To be fair, some gains in de-carbonizing the economy can be easily achieved. A starting tax of $25 a ton on carbon dioxide — which would rise slightly faster than inflation — would hasten the retirement of coal-fired power plants, says Adele Morris, policy director of the Climate and Energy Economics Project at the Brookings Institution, another think tank.
What’s not well appreciated is that the Green New Deal also would require a host of non-energy changes. As Howard Gleckman of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center notes, it is “an ambitious manifesto demanding — among other things — a massive infrastructure initiative, a guaranteed job with a ‘family-sustaining wage,’ and universal access to high-quality health care, affordable housing, economic security, high-quality education, and healthy food.”
Granting the usual congressional penchant for exaggeration, this is still over-the-top. Most of it is make-believe. No one knows how much the program would cost. Gleckman says it would be “staggering.” The total would easily run to trillions of dollars.