Democrats accidentally showed their hand by voting for a new loophole to the U.S. House of Representatives budget rules.
The “pay as you go” rule, which imposes a modicum of fiscal restraint by requiring spending increases to be accompanied by spending cuts to keep the national deficit from growing, now specifically excludes climate change-related bills. In going forward with it, the House essentially admitted that we can’t afford the Green New Deal and that Democrats don’t want you to know how much it costs, either.
Carving out special treatment for big-government climate programs will give Congress license to spend with abandon on nominally ecofriendly initiatives without the slightest impact on climate change.
Though the true cost of the Green New Deal is unknown, estimates range from $50 trillion to $90 trillion. To put that in perspective, last year’s entire federal spending on every single agency and program, both the essential and the fundamentally silly, was $6.6 trillion. Dropping $50 trillion would require either raising taxes by a mind-boggling percentage or at least doubling the national debt, giving each taxpayer a share of the debt of more than $400,000.
Those numbers don’t include the additional costs of recklessly ditching our most affordable, reliable, and abundant energy sources, costs brought on by higher electricity bills and unreliable power that would create real if difficult to calculate economic damage.
But surely, the end result would be worth it, right? Unfortunately, climate science suggests otherwise. Climate data models widely used and recognized by international climate organizations, including the United Nations, show just how much of a waste the Green New Deal would be.
Even if we managed to eliminate all fossil fuels nationwide by 2030 (which would be impossible for several reasons), global temperatures are projected to decrease by just 0.14 degrees by the end of the century. Trillions in new taxes and debt weighing down the nation’s future for less than two-tenths of a degree is hardly a bargain.
Even the global Paris Agreement is a climate sham. If every participating country and the United States met their emission reduction pledges for the rest of the century (which is equally unlikely), the temperature difference would be a projected 0.17 degrees.
Transparency and responsible stewardship of our tax dollars should be Congress’s priority in every policy area but especially in energy, for no other political issue influences every aspect of our lives as profoundly as access to affordable, reliable power.
Congress justified its budgeting games by decrying climate change as an “international crisis.” But the real crisis is denying the abundant prosperity, health, and comfort provided by fossil fuels, not just to our own citizens but to people in desperate poverty around the world.
Penalizing natural gas, oil, and clean coal means we have more expensive and less reliable energy and less to export to our trading partners. This vicious cycle would worsen poverty, give the upper hand to polluting and unstable producers overseas, and limit economic opportunity around the world.
The Green New Deal movement is an ineffective and unnecessary approach to the wrong problem, but worse, it’s less a serious proposal than a smokescreen to usher in all manner of quasisocialist checks on freedoms.
Our elected leaders should be ashamed of such flagrant abuses of our tax dollars and the power voters have granted them.
This commentary originally appeared in the Washington Examiner on January 12, 2021.