Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Green New Deal draws laughs, divides Democrats
No doubt Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, New York Democrat, wanted to make a splash Thursday with the release of the much-anticipated Green New Deal, and that she did.
The wildly ambitious progressive grab-bag drew support from 2020 Democratic presidential contenders, a lukewarm response from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and guffaws on the right over some of the demands, starting with economic security for those “unwilling to work.”
That item appeared in an FAQ that accompanied the non-binding resolution posted by NPR. The FAQ also explained that sponsors opted for a goal of net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions instead of zero emissions “because we aren’t sure that we’ll be able to fully get rid of farting cows and airplanes that fast.”
Sen. Mazie Hirono, Hawaii Democrat, expressed reservations about replacing air travel with high-speed rail, telling Fox News, “That would be pretty hard for Hawaii,” while Rep. Rob Bishop, Utah Republican, said the measure had him hoping to “wake up from this twilight zone.”
“I guess I need to start looking at cutting back on my air travel now as well as curtailing other daily activities like eating hamburgers,” Mr. Bishop quipped in a statement.
After months of anticipation, the Green New Deal emerged in the form of a non-binding resolution that called for net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions from power production as part of a “10-year mobilization” on everything from energy to infrastructure to racism.
Ms. Ocasio-Cortez described the Green New Deal’s release as a “watershed moment” at a press conference with its Senate sponsor, Sen. Edward Markey, Massachusetts Democrat.
“Today I think is a really big day for our economy, the labor movement, the social-justice movement, indigenous peoples, and people all over the United States of America, because today is the day that we truly embark on a comprehensive agenda of economic, social and racial justice,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said.
Her office also removed Thursday an online document that repeated the line about paying those “unable or unwilling to work,” while the Republican Study Committee dinged the congresswoman for her website photo of an offshore oil rig.
Republicans who weren’t laughing promptly decried the plan as a “Trojan horse for Socialism,” as the House Republican Conference put it, while the Republican National Committee called it a “socialist wish list” that would cost at least $2 trillion and eliminate one million jobs.
“What we’re seeing is a Democrat disaster. They just keep going further and further left and they can’t help themselves,” said Alfredo Ortiz, founder of the free-market Job Creators Network.
Meanwhile, the Democratic reaction ranged from enthusiastic support from several 2020 hopefuls, including Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kamala Harris of California and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, to an arms-length response from Mrs. Pelosi.
The speaker referred to the measure as “the green dream, or whatever they call it,” in an interview Wednesday with Politico. She also issued what was viewed as a snub Thursday by failing to put Ms. Ocasio-Cortez on the newly formed Select Committee on the Climate Crisis.
The first-term congresswoman said at the press event that the speaker had offered to place her on the panel.
“Speaker Pelosi and I have spoken at length about climate. We share this priority. She did in fact invite me to be on the committee,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said. “So I don’t think that this is a snub, I don’t think this is anything like that.”
At her weekly press conference Thursday, the speaker said she was glad to see the “enthusiasm” surrounding the Green New Deal, but also described it as just one of many proposals designed to combat global warming.
“Quite frankly I haven’t seen it, but I do know that it’s enthusiastic, and we welcome all the enthusiasm that’s out there,” Mrs. Pelosi said. “I’m very excited about it all, and I welcome the Green New Deal and any other proposals.”
The Sierra Club endorsed the resolution, calling it a “bold plan to tackle the climate crisis and inequality two of the defining crises of our time at the speed and scale that science and justice demand.”
Others on the left were disappointed by its failure to call for an outright elimination of fossil fuels or put heft behind the proposals by offering them as legislation.
“The Democrats face a choice: Either have the courage to take on the fossil fuel industry and lay out a bold plan for a clean energy economy by 2030 or continue to take dirty industry money and fail to prevent climate chaos,” said the Green Party in a statement.