A column by Columbia University professor Jeffrey Sachs for CNN has become the current go-to defense for partisans of the Green New Deal.
“The right wing and corporate lobbies are already hyperventilating: It is unachievable; it will bankrupt us; it will make us into Venezuela,” Sachs wrote in the piece published Friday.
“These claims are dead wrong. The Green New Deal agenda is both feasible and affordable. This will become clear as the agenda is turned into specific legislation for energy, health care, higher education, and more.”
Naturally, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has picked up on this line of thinking:
“The Green New Deal agenda is both feasible and affordable.” -Jeffrey Sachs
As conservatives wag their finger and call me dim on econ, a flood of economists have been verifying the #GreenNewDeal‘s sound policy credentials.
The GOP talks about flatulence. https://t.co/cuALBdbLJU
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 23, 2019
Is it really true? Well, only if you think “affordable” is $730,000 for every household in America.
According to Bloomberg, “a Republican-aligned think tank led by a former Congressional Budget Office director” says that the plan “may tally between $51 trillion and $93 trillion over 10-years.”
“The Green New Deal is clearly very expensive,” the American Action Group said in its analysis. “It’s further expansion of the federal government’s role in some of the most basic decisions of daily life, however, would likely have a more lasting and damaging impact than its enormous price tag.”
Believe it or not, the cheap part will be the elimination of carbon emissions from power generation and transportation. That’ll only cost between $8.3 trillion and $12.3 trillion.
The social component of the Green New Deal — jobs programs, health care, that sort of thing — is expected to cost between $42.8 trillion and $80.6 trillion, according to the analysis.
So, what would that cost the average American household?
Well, let’s assume this ends up on the high end of things — government programs always do. Given 127,586,000 households in the United States, that comes out to about $730,000 per every household. At an average household income of $61,372 a year, that’s 12 years of Americans’ salaries to pay for this.
And you thought your student loan debt was bad. (But don’t worry, the Green New Deal will probably end up paying for that, too. See, it can do everything!)
On a macro level, this is equally bad; the United States had a GDP of $19.39 trillion in 2017. That means we would conceivably need to devote every dime of American productivity for four years to the Green New Deal to make it work.
Sen. Ed Markey, the Massachusetts Democrat sponsoring the Green New Deal in the Senate, says that we shouldn’t pay attention to that sort of propaganda.
Any so-called “analysis” of the #GreenNewDeal that includes artificially inflated numbers that rely on lazy assumptions, incl. about policies that aren’t even in the resolution is bogus. Putting a price on a resolution of principles, not policies, is just Big Oil misinformation.
— Ed Markey (@SenMarkey) February 25, 2019
“Any so-called ‘analysis’ of the #GreenNewDeal that includes artificially inflated numbers that rely on lazy assumptions, incl. about policies that aren’t even in the resolution is bogus,” he tweeted Monday.
“Putting a price on a resolution of principles, not policies, is just Big Oil misinformation.”
But this is the invariable problem with the Green New Deal as it is: Eventually, these principles become policies.
If they don’t, well, what is it anyway except to use a manufactured crisis so that its supporters could get attention? And if they do, it could be $730,000 for each household in America.
I’d prefer the former, but neither should be acceptable. Contrary to the musings of Ocasio-Cortez, Markey and Sachs, it’s neither feasible nor affordable — and there’s no good way to pretend that it is.
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