What is the Green New Deal?

Since the democrats managed to flip the House of Representatives for the upcoming term after the election in November, a new phrase seems to be on the minds of many of the incoming Democratic Congressmen and women, Green New Deal. The New Deal was the signature policies instituted during Franklin D. Roosevelt’s time in office in order to help bring prosperity back to the United States following the Great Depression. The Tennessee Valley Authority, Social Security, Workers Progress Administration, and National Labor Relations Board all grew out of the New Deal. As the New Deal was responding to the economic problems of the country back in the 1930s, the Green New Deal hopes to respond to the impending climate crisis facing both the United States and the world at large.

The idea of a Green New Deal has its early roots in columns written by Thomas L. Friedman for the New York Times. The Green Party, began using the idea of a Green New Deal back during the 2012 campaign of Jill Stein and was part of her 2016 campaign as well. The Green Party’s Green New Deal¬†features four distinct pillars. First is the economic bill of rights, which seeks to ensure all citizens the right to employment through a full employment program; workers’ rights including a living wage, safe working conditions, and right to unionize; right to quality healthcare through a single-payer Medicare for all system; right to tuition free federally funded public education from preschool through college; right to decent affordable housing; right to affordable and accessible utilities through public utilities; and right to fair taxation based on ability to pay. The second pillar is the green transition program that would invest in green businesses by providing grants and low interest loans; prioritizing green research, which would move away from fossil fuels; and providing green jobs. The third pillar is financial reform, which would reduce student and homeowner debt; nationalize Federal Reserve Banks; break up over-sized banks that are “too big to fail”; end taxpayer bailouts of banks; regulate financial derivatives and require trading on open exchanges; restore the separation of commercial depository banks from speculative investment banks; create a 90% tax on bonuses for bailed out bankers; and support the establishment of federal, state, and municipal public-owned banks that serve as nonprofit utilities. The fourth pillar is a functioning democracy that will amend our constitution to revoke corporate personhood; support the Right to Vote Amendment; enact a Voter Bill of Rights; review federal preemption law and its impact on local democracies; create a Corporation for Economic Democracy to provide publicity, training, education, and direct financing for cooperative development; expand federal support for locally owned broadcast media and local print media; repeal the Patriot Act and end war on immigrants; and reduce military spending.

However, after the election last month, many new democrats have been waving the flag for a Green New Deal. One of the leaders of this movement is Rep. Elect Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez. She has proposed a new select committee for a Green New Deal. Her proposed select committee would have the power to develop a national, industrial, economic mobilization plan to prepare the United States to transition into a carbon neutral economy that would decrease and capture greenhouse gases and promote environmental and economic justice. The committee would also draft legislation to put the plan into action. The hope is that within 10 years, there would be 100% power from renewable sources; a national smart-grid; energy efficiency in all buildings; de-carbonization in agriculture, manufacturing, transportation, and other industries; extensive investment in carbon capture and storage; and becoming a major exporter of green technology. Socially, the plan would be to make sure that everyone has training and education; mitigate racial, gender, and regional inequalities in income and wealth; and provide universal healthcare and other basic income programs to ensure economic security. Other groups, like the Sunrise Movement, support the Green New Deal and have staged sit-ins at Capitol Hill to support the cause.

We will have to wait and see what the new Congressional term will bring in terms of the movement of the Green New Deal. As of right now, a new poll released by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication shows that 81% of all voters surveyed strongly or somewhat support the Green New Deal. This support is strong across all parties, with even 64% of Republicans supporting the Green New Deal in some way. The only question is, even with strong bi-partisan support, will such measures make it through the House and Senate and be signed by the President?

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