US House of Representatives via Wikimedia Commons
The Green New Deal: Opinions from Both Sides of the Aisle
January 30, 2019
In the midst of America’s longest government shutdown, some voices—particularly those of freshmen members of Congress—enthusiastically call for radical environmental change, with Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (NY-14) Green New Deal drawing a mix of virulent criticism and fierce support. With Fox News hailing it “the most radical and destructive policy proposal offered by a member of Congress in decades,” members from all sides of the political arena have spoken out.
No matter one’s stance on environmental issues, there are various ways to contribute to the legislative process. For example, students unable to vote can call their local politicians or attend protests. There are also myriad ways to help the environment here in South Florida, from planting trees to participating in beach cleanups. The best thing for Pine Crest students to do in light of the environmental debate is to get involved and speak out, regardless of party affiliation.
Type One reached out to members of two Pine Crest political clubs, Teenage Republicans and Young Democrats, for their opinions on Cortez’s radical Green New Deal. Below are their opposing takes on the issue.
Photo Source: US House of Representatives via Wikimedia Commons
Young Democrats’ Club Opinion
Citing her proposed 70% marginal tax rate as radical and socialist, conservatives largely believe that Representative Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal is too drastic for the American economy. However, America’s history is littered with examples of high marginal tax rates, with rates even reaching 94% for families making more than $200,000 during World War II. In fact, tax rates did not lower drastically until the Reagan administration, which saw a noticeable drop from 70% in 1980 to 50% in 1982. The hands-off approach to the economy thrived during Reagan’s presidency, as did the national debt. Reagan’s laissez-faire economic style has remained a defining attribute of the American economic system. Supporters typically cite a correlation between lower tax rates and economic growth to argue against tax rate increases, although this correlation has since been proven statistically insignificant. Knowing that the tax rate is not related to economic growth, lawmakers arguing that Ocasio-Cortez’s 70% tax rate would devastate the economy are clearly mistaken, as the Green New Deal would likely improve the American economy by increasing the abundance of employment opportunities and decreasing the $240 billion spent annually on adapting to the consequences of climate change, from natural disasters to diseases caused by air pollution.
Beyond the economics, a glance at the current state of American environmentalism leaves much to be desired in terms of legislation and social progress, with only 58% of Americans believing that climate change is real and mostly caused by human activities. Despite what a minority may claim, climate change is real and has caused an abundance of economic and social issues, costing Americans billions of dollars annually. A serious response is needed, and little has been done, so I have to believe in Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal because no one else is putting forth legislation to deal with this serious problem.
Teenage Republicans’ Club Opinion
Although renewable energy should be the future, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s aspirations, as outlined in the Green New Deal, are not feasible in the timeframe she proposes. Currently, the United States gets roughly 11% of its energy from renewable energy sources. Cortez is proposing that by 2030 we would be able to run on 100% renewable energy. This timeline is very unrealistic, as the technology to store energy (after its production and before distribution) is inadequate for a project of this scale. Additionally, Cortez’s resolution does not include using hydropower as a means of renewable energy production, which is quite startling seeing that it is currently the nation’s largest source of renewable energy.
Furthermore, the project would be exorbitantly expensive at a time when the national debt is reaching 22 trillion dollars. Expert scientists and policy advisors state that the plan may be too ambitious. The generating capacity alone of this quantity of renewable energy would cost upwards of 2 trillion dollars. Skeptics include the president of the Institute for Energy Research, who contended that the Green New Deal “would be impossible to achieve.” The Green New Deal still lacks a clear explanation of execution. Although the idea of renewable energy is enticing, the plan should be further developed before tax dollars are spent on the project.
Sources: Fox News, Politifact, Tax Policy Center, University of Arizona, Washington Post, Forbes, Yale University, Business Insider, University of Southern California, National Geographic, The Guardian, U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, USA Today, Technology Review, Institute for Energy Research, USA.gov, Citizens for a Better South Florida