On Thursday, Aug. 22, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) announced the outlining details of his Green New Deal, a radical plan to restructure the United States economy, eliminate carbon-based fuel emissions by 2050, and create a number of social reforms.
Sanders’s 2020 presidential campaign formally announced, “As president, Bernie Sanders will launch the decade of the Green New Deal, a 10-year, nationwide mobilization centered around justice and equity, during which climate changes will be factored into virtually every area of policy, from immigration to trade to foreign policy and beyond.”
Looking beyond the cover-page of Sanders’s ambitious plan reveals an effort to effectively nationalize a number of economic sectors, from energy production, to farming, to transportation and shipping. Combine Sanders’s Green New Deal vision with his “Medicare for All” initiative, and the result would mean nationalizing at least one-third of the U.S. economy.
With a price tag of $16.3 trillion, to be raised primarily through taxation, and to be spent over a period of 10–15 years, Sanders’s plan seeks to centralize energy production in order to eliminate fossil fuels. In the process, Sanders hopes to create jobs for as many as 20 million unionized workers across “steel and auto manufacturing, construction, energy efficiency retrofitting, coding and server farms, and renewable power plants.”
It remains unclear whether Sanders’s vision for an energy revolution is based on solid science. At a minimum, air travel, trans-oceanic shipping, and military technologies all rely heavily on existing fossil fuels.
Nationalizing and unionizing American manufacturing and energy production are also unlikely to create the same working economics of free or lightly regulated markets. Unionized jobs, as Sanders proposes, would undoubtedly come at the expense of the private sector.
The extent to which lawmakers in either party will support Sanders’s Green New Deal also remains unknown. Junior congresswomen known as “The Squad” have publicly lobbied in favor of it, prior to many details being made available. A few of the 2020 Democratic hopefuls have given the plan a nod. It will be interesting to see Bernie’s plan becomes a contentious topic during the next Democratic debate, to take place on September 12 in Houston.
On Your Left: Bernie Sanders Proud to Call Himself a ‘Democratic Socialist’
By proudly wearing the democratic socialist label, Sanders has firmly planted himself on the left of most other 2020 candidates. He has stated that he will make his Medicare for All bill and economic-equality initiatives high among his priorities.
Sanders has called out Wall Street, drug companies, and the NRA as ills that plague society. He has also called for an end to Islamaphobia and what he labels as “white nationalism.”
Republicans have criticized Democratic candidates for proposing exorbitant government-sponsored programs, including Sanders’s Medicare for All bill and a proposal from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) to eliminate college tuition. A recent study concluded that Sanders’s health care reforms would require upwards of $32 trillion in government spending, while he has yet to make clear where the money to fund the program would come from.