Heitkamp: Americans Want 'Realistic Solutions,' Not Green New Deal

Democrat complains about being branded a Democrat

March 4, 2019

Former Democratic senator Heidi Heitkamp on Sunday night took a shot at the Green New Deal and other progressive policy proposals, saying the American people don't think they offer "realistic" solutions for tackling issues like climate change and health care.

The North Dakota Democrat appeared on MSNBC's "Kasie DC" where she was asked to offer her thoughts on the Green New Deal, which a study from the the American Action Forum estimates would cost up to $94 trillion. Heitkamp said it's a "winning strategy" if Democrats want to slow carbon emissions and address climate change, but she noted it's a "losing strategy" if they try to move too quickly away from fossil fuels.

"The American public wants solutions to problems. They see carbon emissions and global warming as a huge problem that needs to be addressed, but they want realistic solutions. They want solutions that don't disrupt the economy," Heitkamp said.

Heitkamp referred to initiatives she led in the Senate, including the export of crude oil and the passage of a tax credit for carbon cap sequestration and utilization, suggesting they were realistic initiatives that could make the fossil fuel industry become a part of the solution.

"Neither one of those really made a whole lot of difference because I was branded as a Democrat," Heitkamp said in reference to her election loss. "I was branded about somebody who didn't care about those jobs. And it goes back to Secretary [Hillary] Clinton basically saying, 'We're going to  put a lot of coal miners out of work.' That's frightening to anyone."

"Theres a lot working people who work on oil rigs, a lot of working people who work in coal mines and in the fossil fuel industry. They need to hear where their role is going to be moving forward in this economy, and I think that's the mistake the Democratic Party makes. They want to address climate, which is important, but you absolutely have to address jobs," she added.

Heitkamp demurred on whether she believed a self-described democratic socialist like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) or a more midwest moderate candidate like Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.) would be more effective in beating President Donald Trump in the swing states he won against Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign.

"The most important thing that we need to do is lay out a public policy plan for the American people and one that the American people believe is realistic," Heitkamp said. "I don't think they think 'Medicare for all' is realistic. I don't think they believe the Green New Deal is realistic, but could we do better in both those categories of making health care more affordable, in attacking climate change? You bet, and we need all ideas to the forefront."

"It's up to these candidates to make their case, and I think that there's a lot of room for more candidates to get in and for more discussion on these issues. We've let this whole Green New Deal, 'Medicare for all' dominate the political discussion. That political discussion needs to be a lot broader," Heitkamp continued.