Ocasio-Cortez's Green New Deal Calls for 'Economic Transformation' of U.S.

'Overhauling transportation systems in the United States'

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez / Getty Images
February 7, 2019

Democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) is calling for "economic transformation" in her "Green New Deal," released Thursday.

The 14-page document is vague on specifics, but outlines a broad plan for "workers" through a "Green New Deal mobilization," in which every resident of the United States is entitled to a federal job with paid vacation and retirement benefits, "adequate housing," "healthy food," and "access to nature."

The resolution also calls for reparations for, except white men, every conceivable demographic, which the document refers to as "frontline and vulnerable communities."

The document states it is the "duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal," claiming America has "historically been responsible for a disproportionate amount of greenhouse gas emissions." In the first year of the Trump administration carbon emissions decreased by 2.7 percent, and the United States is leading the world in emissions reduction.

Though the resolution is nonbinding, the "Green New Deal" is emblematic of an increasingly leftward segment of the new Democrat-controlled House led by Ocasio-Cortez. House speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) appeared to dismiss the plan Thursday as a "green dream."

The Green New Deal calls for an end to "systemic injustices."

The plan stopped short of banning all fossil fuels in 10 years, but still calls for achieving "net-zero greenhouse gas emissions through a fair and just transition for all communities and workers."

At a time of historic low unemployment rates, the "Green New Deal" claims the country is facing numerous crises, and "healthy food" and "adequate health care" are "inaccessible to a significant portion of the United States population."

Ocasio-Cortez envisions the masses deployed in a "Federal Government-led mobilization" not seen since Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal in the 1930s.

"Whereas the Federal Government-led mobilizations during World War II and the New Deal created the greatest middle class that the United States has ever seen, but many members of frontline and vulnerable communities were excluded from many of the economic and societal benefits of those mobilizations," the document states. "To create millions of good, high-wage jobs in the United States; to provide unprecedented levels of prosperity and economic security for all people of the United States; and to counteract systemic injustices: Now, therefore, be it."

The Green New Deal also blames climate change for "racial injustices" by acting as "a threat multiplier."

"Whereas climate change, pollution, and environmental destruction have exacerbated systemic racial, regional, social, environmental, and economic injustices (referred to in this preamble as 'systemic injustices') by disproportionately affecting indigenous communities, communities of color, migrant communities, deindustrialized communities, depopulated rural communities, the poor, low-income workers, women, the elderly, the unhoused, people with disabilities, and youth (referred to in this preamble as 'frontline and vulnerable communities')," according to the document.

The Green New Deal will be "accomplished through a 10-year national mobilization." The plan promises to provide all residents with "clean air and water, climate and community resiliency, healthy food, access to nature, [and] a sustainable environment."

The plan includes reparations by calling to "promote justice and equity by stopping current, preventing future, and repairing historic oppression of indigenous communities, communities of color, migrant communities, deindustrialized communities, depopulated rural communities, the poor, low-income workers, women, the elderly, the unhoused, people with disabilities, and youth (referred to in this resolution as 'frontline and vulnerable communities')."

Ocasio-Cortez envisions "overhauling transportation systems in the United States."

The plan also promises to support "family farming," "science-based projects," and "high-speed rail."

The Green New Deal comes with a federal jobs guarantee "with a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security to all people of the United States."

Every businessperson in the country will also be "free from unfair competition and domination by domestic or international monopolies."

The Green New Deal "must be developed through transparent and inclusive consultations."

While stopping short of banning cars, the document calls for eliminating "pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector," with the caveat "as much as is technologically feasible."

However, in a supplemental document of frequently asked questions about the Green New Deal, Ocasio-Cortez's office explains the goal is to replace "every combustion-engine vehicle" in the country, which would include planes and automobiles.

One of the 14 "national mobilization" projects is to: "Totally overhaul transportation by massively expanding electric vehicle manufacturing, build charging stations everywhere, build out high- speed rail at a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary, create affordable public transit available to all, with goal to replace every combustion-engine vehicle."

Electric vehicles represent just 1 percent of the country's vehicle fleet, and those are still powered by coal and natural gas.

The Green New Deal also calls for 100 percent of the power demand in the United States to be "clean, renewable," and from "zero-emission energy sources" in 10 years. Renewable energy currently accounts for just 17 percent of electricity generation nationally.

The plan does not specify how it will "ensure affordable access to electricity."