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Green Is the New Red

A Commentary By Stephen Moore

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, New York Democrat, has released her Green New Deal plan to the nation -- and to great applause from the Democratic Party.

This multitrillion-dollar manifesto isn't just about saving the planet from climate change -- though that is the centerpiece. It also includes a whole social justice agenda that includes everything from "Medicare-for-all," to a guaranteed job for all Americans, a $15-an-hour minimum wage, and even regulations on how often you will be able to drive your car and fly in an airplane.

The centerpiece of the plan is to move to 100 percent renewable energy (wind and solar power) within 10 years. No one with any knowledge of energy use and production believes this is remotely possible given that we are today at about 8 percent renewable -- even after $150 billion of taxpayer handouts to green energy producers.

To get anywhere close to 100 percent renewable energy over the next 10 or 30 years would be economically crippling; taxpayer costs would exceed $2 trillion and some 10 million Americans in high-paying oil and gas industries would be displaced.

Energy costs for home heating and electric power would likely double or triple, as a Heritage Foundation study shows -- and that's simply to get to 50 percent renewable. Without U.S. mass production of shale oil, gas prices at the pump could easily reach $5 a gallon. Price hikes like these are what incited the riots in Paris last month.

Initially, the Green New Deal planned to abolish nuclear and natural gas from the energy mix -- which is absurd given that shale gas has contributed to a major reduction in carbon emissions and nuclear plants emit no greenhouse gases. Along with hydropower, these are the cleanest forms of energy today. A recent GND fact sheet published by Ocasio-Cortez's offices has been disavowed by Democratic Senate backer Ed Markey over the dogmatic anti-nuclear stance.

This is why the GND frothy rhetoric about this "national, industrial, economic mobilization" being a "historic opportunity to eliminate poverty and make prosperity, wealth and economic security available to everyone participating in the transformation," is disoriented from reality.

How does eliminating the fossil fuel industry, which has produced the fastest growth of new jobs over the past decade, eliminate poverty? Are we really going to convert oil workers into wind farmers?

There are other utopian ideas to advance this green agenda, including a job-guarantee program, universal heath care and tens of billions of dollars for new mass transit and electric cars. In one of the original versions of the Green New Deal, the plan requires "replacing nonessential individual means of transport with high-quality and modern mass transit." No more driving the kids to soccer practice. Everybody on the bus.

Ocasio-Cortez says that to replace the millions of jobs the GND would destroy, the new guaranteed-jobs program would work like the original New Deal. But despite the fake history of the Great Depression, FDR's make-work programs, such as the Works Progress Administration, failed miserably in their quest to end joblessness and poverty. During the eight years of the WPA, the unemployment rate averaged above 12 percent, some three times higher than today.

The architects of the GND are to be commended for acknowledging that this "transformation" of the U.S. economy won't come cheap. They place the price tag at roughly $1 trillion a year.

These costs will be absorbed by Federal Reserve Bank borrowing (i.e., running up the budget deficit), and "various taxation tools including taxes on carbon and other emissions and progressive wealth taxes." Say hello to those 70 percent tax rates liberals have been touting.

We will need these to pay for this deindustrialization of America.

Conservatives have tended to laugh and sneer at the GND (me included), but these frontal assaults on free market capitalism are quickly becoming Democratic orthodoxy. Green is the new red, as the saying goes, and unless conservatives defeat and discredit these dingbat ideas, Donald Trump will be proven wrong. America will be on its way to becoming a socialist nation.

Stephen Moore is a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation and an economic consultant with FreedomWorks. He is the co-author of "Trumponomics: Inside the America First Plan to Revive the American Economy." To find out more about Stephen Moore and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

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