The Green New Deal is more a laundry list of progressive economic policies than it is a way to fight climate change.
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Everything from free college and subsidized housing, to government-run health care and expanded welfare programs is promised. These promises would apparently be no-strings-attached, as they could be earned even if someone is unwilling to work. Conservative, back-of-the-envelope estimates of the cost of all these giveaways would put government spending at three-quarters (75 percent) of U.S. GDP, up from 38 percent today.
All this government spending would massively expand the welfare state while narrowing the pathway to jobs and opportunity. In other words, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's proposed Green New Deal is just another step in progressives' war on work.
More than 80 percent of U.S. energy comes from fossil fuels and nuclear. Short of a massive takeover of the economy, there is no way for this number to fall all the way to zero by 2030, as the Green New Deal proposes. And it wouldn’t just be the 10 million American jobs supported by the oil and gas industry wiped out— countless other jobs and sectors rely on access to affordable energy. Airlines come to mind, another industry the plan’s architect wants to “get rid of.”
In today’s strong economy, when unemployment sits at four percent and there continues to be more job openings than job seekers, policy conversations should center around how to get Americans to fill the 7.3 million open jobs. This is why President Trump has focused on ideas like expanding apprenticeships, opening employment opportunities for those with criminal records, and lowering barriers to work like occupational licensing.
It’s also why the Trump administration has been committed to common sense welfare reform measures like restoring and expanding work requirements for able-bodied adults on food stamps and expanding work requirements to Medicaid. Research shows that when work requirements were implemented, able-bodied adults who left welfare saw their incomes double, their time spent on welfare cut in half, and they went back to work in over 600 diverse industries.
The Green New Deal is out of touch with Americans’ understanding of and belief in the importance of work. There has never been a better time for reforms that promote work—not policies that encourage able-bodied Americans to sit on the sidelines and miss out on opportunities.
Jared Meyer is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Government Accountability.