On Thursday, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey unveiled their Green New Deal resolution, laying out the principles and priorities that legislation for such a program should prioritize. Is everything in there perfect? No, but that’s not the point. The details will have to be ironed out, but the vision contained within it is unlike anything seen in U.S. politics in decades. And there can be no question that, in light of the IPCC’s 1.5ºC report stating we have until 2030 to slash emissions by 45%, it’s the kind of bold plan we need.
There’s been a lot written about it since Thursday, so I wanted to highlight a few intriguing pieces, starting with one that’s actually a bit older.
“How are you going to pay for it?”
: This one was written back in November, but I think it’s important. Economics professor and former Bernie Sanders advisor Stephanie Kelton
, along with Andres Bernal
and Greg Carlock
, lay out how the government would pay for such a program, challenging the dominant framing of the U.S. budget with the increasingly popular “modern monetary theory
As a monopoly supplier of U.S. currency with full financial sovereignty, the federal government is not like a household or even a business. … Congress can pass any budget it chooses, and our government already pays for everything by creating new money.
: The Green New Deal must be tied to a mass building program for public housing to densify communities and ensure they remain affordable. If you’ve read my recent issues, you know that leaving housing to the private market has been a policy failure
. House prices are soaring, and when new transit and bike lanes are built, they too often push up rents and prices, forcing out the very people who would most benefit from them. That’s why we don’t need more tax credits; we need more public housing
It’s time to let go of tax credits and market nudges, and get real. Just as Medicare for all and a federal jobs guarantee would attack health and job needs at their roots, bypassing the money-suck of corrupt public-private partnerships, a housing guarantee must be built by the people, for the people.
: There was right-wing criticism of a piece in AOC’s FAQ on wanting to completely replace air travel with high-speed rail. Sure, that’s not going to happen, but a lot of short-haul flights — up to 1,000 km (620 miles) according to one study — could be replaced by high-speed trains, which would be more comfortable and would massively slash carbon emissions
. I particularly like Alon Levy
’s proposed East-coast HSR map
: There is one major omission in the Green New Deal, however, and that’s any mention of land use
. Alex Baca
writes for Slate
that unless we deal with suburban sprawl, the emissions-reduction and social-justice goals in the Green New Deal can’t be fully achieved; one way to do it: build the millions of necessary homes around transit and in a way that increases densities in more communities.