'Climate Change,' the Green New Deal, and the Remaking of the American Economy

Lisa Schiffren28 Feb, 2020 4 Min Read

Back when Americans learned civics, schoolchildren were routinely taught 19th-century German chancellor Otto von Bismarck’s famous aphorism: “The people sleep better when they know neither how laws nor sausages are made.”  From this we understood that there was horse-trading, arm-twisting, log rolling, benefiting various factions, which went into any piece of legislation that emerged; just as tasty sausage often contained fat, gristle, and offal.

To be sure, much inefficient policy came into being this way, but politics is not a pure art.

As it turns out, there are far worse ways of making policy than ensuring that competing interests are met: Extrapolating action from pure leftist ideology is the absolute worst. And that is what is happening now with American energy and environmental policy, as we see it unfold during the Democratic presidential primaries. With the partial exception of newly arrived billionaire Michael Bloomberg, the statements provided by all the other candidates in debates, town halls, and on their websites, concerning how they will "combat" climate change, provide a blueprint of policy disasters to come.

On a recent stage all seven remaining candidates embraced the shibboleth of Earth-destroying disaster to come, if we fail to make set of radical changes in how we obtain and use energy; how we produce goods and services; how we travel; how we build, heat and cool our homes; how we dispose of waste; all of it.  Naturally, everything that contributes to human comfort and ease must be slashed. Automobiles, which literally shaped the  20th-century landscape, are evil, and must be abolished in favor of bicycles. People need to live stacked on top of each other in dense urban spaces, and eat only vegetables. The fracking and increased oil production that has bolstered our economy, and made locally produced goods more competitive, must end.  This agenda is not entirely new, but the vehemence, the absolute, religious conviction, and the overarching scope of policy solutions is new.

Very little of this was part of the Democratic agenda in 20012 or 2016. How did we get here?

Fourteen months ago, the supremely mediagenic, ridiculously inexperienced bartender, 27 year old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was sworn in as the U.S. Representative from an undistinguished stretch of Queens and the Bronx. She had been selected, during literal auditions, by the radical George Soros-backed “Justice Democrats,” to primary an incumbent centrist Democrat, in a solidly Democratic district. With their backing and money, she won.

Since AOC gets attention, the radical ideas she spouts with great dramatic conviction, get attention. The pièce de résistance of these policies, announced Feb. 7, 2019, was the Green New Deal (GND). The actual piece of legislation submitted came out of the "wishful thinking" bin at a radical environmental activist operation in California. It had been kicking around since at least 2007. The bill as written is light on science, or any significant quantification of environmental impact of current policies, but full of "end of the planet/human misery" rhetoric.

It is worth noting that AOC’s puppet master and then chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabati, who pushed the bill, had previously been a staffer for socialist Bernie Sanders, during his 2016 campaign. Indeed, the bill is socialism on steroids.

In a nutshell, the GND calls for wholesale ‘decarbonization’ of everything, immediately.  (Candidates vary as to their target dates, but 2050 is the furthest out.) To do this requires: upgrading all existing buildings in the country for energy efficiency;  working with farmers to eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions,  supporting family farms and promoting universal access to healthy food; reducing emissions by expanding electric cars, building charging stations everywhere, and adding enough high speed rail to end air travel. The legislation also mandates: a guaranteed job "with a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations and retirement security" for every American; and "high-quality health care" for all Americans.  It isn’t called the “…New Deal” for nothing.

Within days, progressives in Congress had all signed on, though House speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected the GND on grounds of cost. A year later she no longer criticizes it.

As the Trump economy has boomed, bringing long-delayed wage increases to the working and lower middle classes, the dire prose about suffering workers has lost much of its impact.  Yet, by early 2020, the GND had become the baseline policy for all of the Democratic presidential contenders –including so called ‘moderates,’ like former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg, Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar, and  former vice president Joe Biden. Billionaire businessman Tom Steyer has made it the centerpiece of his campaign – and has a plan to spend $2 trillion on it up front. Senator Elizabeth Warren pledges $3 trillion. And leading Democrat contender, the 78 year-old, Soviet-style communist, Bernie Sanders, promises $16.3 trillion in spending. Yes – the equivalent of the entire U.S. debt!

Mandating retrofitting of all the nation’s buildings is an employment program for contractors, lumber yards, plumbers, carpenters, etc., though they are plenty busy right now.  It’s intended to bring the working class back to the Democrat party. At a recent voter meeting, Harvard grad Buttigieg, 38, explained, ‘Hey, there’ll be lots of jobs for plumbers, carpenters and glaziers.” He repeated “glaziers, you know, glass?”--“windows?” to clarify.

So, in one year we have seen a socialist/activist wish list that posits blanket control of the most sectors of the economy, plus all energy production, sales and use, become a policy centerpiece for a major American political party. It is now within the realm of "normal," which is a major ideological triumph. There is zero willingness to submit the energy and environmental claims to any kind of rational analysis. Questioning it makes you “anti-science.”  Bernie Sanders wins, even if he loses.

The great irony is that, last summer, Chakrabarti, the America-hating socialist who put the GND in play, deliberately revealed his game. Shortly before being pushed out of office last summer, in an interview with the Washington Post:

“The interesting thing about the Green New Deal,” he said, “is it wasn’t originally a climate thing at all... Do you guys think of it as a climate thing?” Chakrabarti continued. “Because we really think of it as a how-do-you-change-the-entire-economy thing.”

Predictably, this slap at fellow Democrats for falling in love with Marxism all over again, was not widely reported in mainstream media.

 

Lisa Schiffren has been an editorial writer, political reporter, war correspondent, (Afghanistan during the Soviet war, before there were roads), and GOP speechwriter. She wrote speeches for Vice President Dan Quayle, and worked in Counterterrorism/Special Operations policy at the Department of Defense. She writes these days from her native New York City.

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