Bernie Sanders has unveiled his own version of the Green New Deal which expands upon the one promoted by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and includes some actual dollar figures. The grand total associated with this plan, according to Sanders, is $16.3 trillion dollars. But Sanders claims all of that would be paid for in fifteen years from a combination of new taxes and cuts in other government spending. Sanders’ plan is quite expansive but here are some of the noteworthy goals:
- No more fossil fuels: “Reaching 100 percent renewable energy for electricity and transportation by no later than 2030 and complete decarbonization by 2050 at latest.”
- No nuclear power: “To get to our goal of 100 percent sustainable energy, we will not rely on any false solutions like nuclear, geoengineering, carbon capture and sequestration, or trash incinerators.”
- Electric cars for everyone: “Provide $2.09 trillion in grants to low- and moderate-income families and small businesses to trade in their fossil fuel-dependent vehicles for new electric vehicles.”
- No more diesel trucks: “…we must spend $216 billion to replace all diesel tractor trailer trucks with fast-charging and long-range electric trucks.”
- Decarbonize air travel? “We will fund a $500 billion effort to research technologies to fully decarbonize industry, and a $150 billion effort to fully decarbonize aviation and maritime shipping and transportation.”
- A $40 billion ‘Climate Justice’ slush fund: “The funds will be able to be used for climate resiliency projects, building emergency community centers and shelters with reliable backup power, wetland restoration, abandoned fossil fuel infrastructure and other environmental hazard reclamation; seawalls; community relocation; community evacuation plans and resources for safe and complete evacuation.”
- Return of the Civilian Conservation Corps: “We will invest $171 billion in reauthorizing and expanding the CCC to provide good-paying jobs building green infrastructure, planting billions of trees and other native species, preventing flood and soil erosion, rebuilding wetlands and coral, cleaning up plastic pollution, constructing and maintaining accessible paths, trails, and fire breaks; rehabilitating and removing abandoned structures, and eradicating invasive species and flora disease; and other natural methods of carbon pollution sequestration.”
- Sue the fossil fuel industry: “These corporations and their executives should not get away with hiding the truth from the American people. They should also pay damages for the destruction they have knowingly caused.”
- Make the fossil fuel industry illegal by banning offshore drilling, drilling on public lands, fracking, and the import and export of fossil fuels: “We must no longer export any fossil fuels. Our coal and natural gas are contributing to increased emissions abroad. We will also end the importation of fossil fuels to end incentives for extraction around the world.”
- Learn to code! A choice of a 5-year wage guarantee or free college for fossil fuel workers: “Up to five years of a wage guarantee, job placement assistance, relocation assistance, health care, and a pension based on their previous salary…If workers would like to receive training for a different career path, they will receive either a four-year college education or vocational job training with living expenses provided.”
- Expanding food stamps: “We will expand the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by $311 billion to increase the benefits from the “thrifty” plan which provides inadequate benefits to the more generous “low-cost” food plan, include those with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty line, remove punitive work requirements, remove barriers for college students to access SNAP, and ensure people are not denied benefits due to past interaction with the criminal justice system.”
As for the cost and how to pay for it, Sanders is extremely optimistic about that.
This plan will pay for itself over 15 years. Experts have scored the plan and its economic effects. We will pay for the massive investment we need to reverse the climate crisis by:
- Making the fossil fuel industry pay for their pollution, through litigation, fees, and taxes, and eliminating federal fossil fuel subsidies.
- Generating revenue from the wholesale of energy produced by the regional Power Marketing Authorities. Revenues will be collected from 2023-2035, and after 2035 electricity will be virtually free, aside from operations and maintenance costs.
- Scaling back military spending on maintaining global oil dependence.
- Collecting new income tax revenue from the 20 million new jobs created by the plan.
- Reduced need for federal and state safety net spending due to the creation of millions of good-paying, unionized jobs.
- Making the wealthy and large corporations pay their fair share.
Does this sound a bit vague to anyone else? The wealthy and corporations can’t pay for this plan. Neither can fossil fuel companies that are shrinking and being driven out of business in the United States. As for scaling back military spending, we spend about $700 billion a year on the military. How much of that does Sanders think is devoted to Navy ships in the Gulf of Oman?
Also, don’t forget this isn’t Sanders’ only big plan. He’s also promoting free college and Medicare for All, the latter of which would likely cost about double his Green New Deal proposal. So you can think of this as less than a third of the spending Bernie has in mind. Ultimately, the only way this happens is massive tax increases on the middle class. And once you tell people that, support for these plans drops dramatically.
Even if Sanders were elected president, most of this plan (all the parts involving new spending, taxes, etc.) would need to be passed by Congress. Even if the Democrats had control of the House and Senate under a Sanders administration, there wouldn’t be enough support to pass this. Remember, many of the Democrats who won close elections in purple suburban districts in 2018 are fairly moderate. The Squad may be making a lot of headlines but Sanders would need a full Company of like-minded Democratic Socialists to get this through Congress. That’s not going to happen anytime soon.