Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, center, speaks about Green New Deal with Sen. Ed Markey, right, in front of the Capitol Building in February 2019. (Senate Democrats/Creative Commons)
What exactly is the Green New Deal?
Since winning her Senate seat in fall 2018, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has become a household name in her short time in office — and one of notoriety to her opponents. She’s gone toe to toe with Republican leaders like Mitch McConnell and President Donald Trump, and proudly has held her own as a member of “The Squad.” Arguably though, the biggest moment of her time in office has been her proposal of the Green New Deal with Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey.
The proposal, which has garnered support from almost all of the major Democratic candidates, draws inspiration from the original New Deal. Just as the New Deal the proposal is not just one piece of legislation but a series of new laws and programs to help combat climate change and social inequality by bringing in new jobs and infrastructure.
The Green New Deal, unsurprisingly has shown a divide between Democrats and Republicans. In a survey done by AEI Political Research in January, 73% of Democrats said the climate crisis should be a top priority while only 31% of Republicans agreed. There is even more data that can be seen from AEI that was used in a report by Forbes.
Perhaps the biggest doubter of the Green New Deal Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has gone as far to say it is “out of touch with the working American” and is a “socialist ideal.” The Kentucky Senator continued his verbal criticism of the plan after it was voted down by Congress when he went on to call the proposal “nonsense.” according to a report by CNBC. The GOP has been quoted as saying this proposal will drastically affect our day to day lives in areas from transportation to food consumption. And some Republican politicians and pundits have stretched the truth when it comes to what exactly the Green New Deal will do.
Despite speaking out against the Green New Deal, adversaries of the proposal have yet to offer an alternative plan.
Working with Americans
The proposal plans to work with American farmers, and the Green New Deal also puts Americans to work by creating new jobs. Their plan proposes moving away from jobs that involve earth’s limited resources, like fossil fuels, and encourages jobs in growing industries, such as wind or solar.
Ocasio-Cortez has been adamantly defending her proposal, saying people in the lower and middle class need it the most.
“You want to tell people that their concern and their desire for clean air and clean water is elitist?” she said in a report by Business Insider. “Tell that to the kids in the South Bronx, which are suffering from the highest rates of childhood asthma in the country.”
The Green New Deal also proposes to help clean up the waste that has been left behind from years of companies and citizens getting rid of their waste in hazardous ways. The proposal also intends to strengthen the Clean Water and Air Acts — something that many Democratic candidates want to do as well — adding on to the revising of old pieces of legislation. There also are plans to update infrastructure and pipes to provide cleaner water.
One of the biggest concerns coming from the conservative side of the spectrum is that the proposal will take away jobs from Americans working in factories or with companies that rely on coal, oil, and other not-so-clean sources of energy. However, the Green New Deal includes a plan that would transition those workers into jobs involving cleaner forms of energy, like solar or wind.
The Green New Deal has shown us all one thing: Climate change is becoming more and more prevalent in our lives. With no precedent on how to deal with a looming crisis this large, it is hard to say what is and is not over the line. No matter what, Ocasio-Cortez has defended her proposal.
“Forty years of free-market solutions have not changed our position,” Ocasio-Cortez said in March, as reported by NBC News. “So this does not mean that we change our entire structure of government, but what it means is that we need to do something. Something!”