To GOP, Green New Deal is Dem self-de­struc­tion

Repub­li­cans spread word about ‘so­cial­ist fan­tasy’

USA TODAY International Edition - - NEWS - Led­yard King

WASH­ING­TON – Repub­li­cans are talk­ing a lot about the Green New Deal af­ter its rollout on Capi­tol Hill this month by lib­eral Demo­cratic Rep. Alexan­dria Oca­sio-Cortez.

It’s not be­cause the GOP sup­ports the trans­for­ma­tion of the elec­tric grid from fos­sil fu­els to re­new­able en­ergy called for in the plan to com­bat cli­mate change. Or be­cause Repub­li­cans agree with the ap­proach the plan lays out for boost­ing Amer­i­cans’ eco­nomic se­cu­rity and giv­ing peo­ple ac­cess to afford­able health care.

Just the op­po­site.

GOP officials ex­pect the road map offered by Oca­sio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and en­vi­ron­men­tal ad­vo­cate Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., will help them ham­mer home their crit­i­cisms of Demo­cratic eco­nomic poli­cies they con­tend would move the coun­try to­ward so­cial­ism.

Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell, R-Ky., con­vinced the plan is a loser for Democrats, an­nounced Tues­day that he plans to bring up the mea­sure for a Se­nate vote “to give every­body an op­por­tu­nity to go on record to see how they feel about the Green New Deal.”

That would mean put­ting sev­eral Demo­cratic sen­a­tors who are run­ning for pres­i­dent, in­clud­ing El­iz­a­beth War­ren of Mas­sachusetts, Cory Booker of New Jer­sey and Amy Klobuchar of Min­nesota, in the po­si­tion of an­ger­ing lib­eral vot­ers if they don’t back the plan or turn­ing off those in­de­pen­dents who view it as too lib­eral.

Open­ing a dis­cus­sion on the Green New Deal car­ries risks for Repub­li­cans as well, said former Rep. Car­los Curbelo, a Florida Repub­li­can who co-founded the bi­par­ti­san Cli­mate So­lu­tions Cau­cus. “When Repub­li­cans con­trolled Congress, this was not get­ting at­ten­tion,” Curbelo, who does not sup­port the Green New Deal, told USA TO­DAY. “That’s go­ing to change, and ev­ery­one soon will have to go on the record, not just ex­press­ing what they’re against but what they’re for.”

Dozens of Democrats have got­ten be­hind the Green New Deal to show vot­ers they sup­port dras­tic ac­tion to ad­dress cli­mate change.

The am­bi­tious plan calls not only for mov­ing the power grid to 100 per­cent re­new­able en­ergy by the 2030s but also a fun­da­men­tal re­shap­ing of the U.S. econ­omy that guar­an­tees jobs, health care and hous­ing for all Amer­i­cans.

Back­ers say the broadly worded, non­bind­ing res­o­lu­tion is a way to spot­light an is­sue that will play a prom­i­nent role in the 2020 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion as much as it is a blue­print for solv­ing the threat to the planet.

Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Charles Schumer said it’s ironic McCon­nell would bring the res­o­lu­tion to the floor when he usu­ally pre­vents mea­sures he doesn’t like from get­ting a vote.

“I say, ‘Go for it. Bring it on.’ You think it might em­bar­rass Democrats to vote on a non­bind­ing res­o­lu­tion that maybe some of us sup­port but not oth­ers? Trust me. We’ll be fine,” the New York Demo­crat said on the Se­nate floor Thurs­day. If “McCon­nell blocks amend­ments, we’ll know where he and his party stand – against sci­ence, against fact, os­triches with their heads buried in the sand as the tide comes in.”

Curbelo, who lost re-elec­tion in Novem­ber, said he be­lieves most Repub­li­can law­mak­ers on Capi­tol Hill agree with the sci­ence that hu­man-caused cli­mate change is heat­ing the planet and pos­ing nu­mer­ous risks from in­creased drought, more se­vere weather and ris­ing sea lev­els.

Repub­li­cans are “evolv­ing in a mean­ing­ful way” on cli­mate change, and there are “very few” who share Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s skep­ti­cism of cli­mate change, said Curbelo.

That hasn’t stopped GOP law­mak­ers from try­ing to score points or raise money from the Demo­cratic plan.

“The rad­i­cal left wing of the Demo­cratic Party has un­veiled their ‘Green New Deal’ – a so­cial­ist fan­tasy to wreck our econ­omy and fun­da­men­tally al­ter­ing our way of life,” McCon­nell wrote in a fundrais­ing email Wed­nes­day.

“This new pro­posal – the first pri­or­ity of the new lib­eral ma­jor­ity – is com­pletely out­ra­geous,” Rep. Greg Pence, RInd., the vice pres­i­dent’s brother, said in a fundrais­ing email last week to sup­port­ers. “They want to limit what you drive. They want to stop all air travel. They want to give money to peo­ple ‘un­will­ing to work.’ They even want to mon­i­tor what you eat.”

Repub­li­cans based those crit­i­cisms on drafts of the plan that called for more dra­matic steps such as the build­ing of high-speed rail “at a scale where air travel stops be­com­ing nec­es­sary.”

Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell, R-Ky., plans to bring the Democrats’ Green New Deal to the floor for a vote so he can put sen­a­tors “on record” about a plan he says would “wreck our econ­omy.” J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE/AP

Rep. Alexan­dria Oca­sio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., pro­pose the Green New Deal, which is aimed at trans­form­ing na­tional en­ergy and eco­nomic pol­icy. SHAWN THEW/EPA-EFE

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