Democrats’ plans to counteract climate change will involve “massive government intervention” into Americans’ lives, one of the chief proponents admitted in an interview Thursday morning.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said she has no qualms about acknowledging a so-called “Green New Deal” will mean unprecedented governmental intrusion into the private sector. Appearing on NPR, she was asked if she’s prepared to tell Americans outright that her plans involve “massive government intervention.”
“As you know, congresswoman, one reason that people are politically conservative are skeptical of efforts to combat climate change is that it sounds to them like it requires massive government intervention, which they just don’t like,” Steve Inskeep asked. “Are you prepared to put on that table that, ‘Yes actually they’re right, what this requires is massive government intervention’?”
“It does, it does, yeah, I have no problem saying that,” Ocasio-Cortez quickly replied. “Why? Because we have tried their approach for 40 years. For 40 years we have tried to let the private sector take care of this. They said, ‘We got this, we can do this, the forces of the market are going to force us to innovate.’”
“Except,” she continued, “for the fact that there’s a little thing in economics called externalities. And what that means is that a corporation can dump pollution in the river and they don’t have to pay, but taxpayers have to pay.”
Despite her Green New Deal including plans to remake “every” building in the United States, impose Medicare-for-All, as well as a universal basic income, Ocasio-Cortez said her proposals are small compared to the crisis the world faces.
“Even the solutions that we have considered big and bold are nowhere near the scale of the actual problem that climate change presents to us,” she told NPR.
Ocasio-Cortez also suggested there are ways to pay for her plans besides taxes, although she did not specify what.
“It is just certainly a lot of money,” Inskeep said. “You don’t specify where it’s going to come from other than saying it will all pay for itself.”
“Yeah. I think the first move we need to do is kind of break the mistaken idea that taxes pay for 100 percent of government expenditure,” Ocasio-Cortez answered. “It’s just not how government expenditure works. We can recoup costs, but oftentimes you look at, for example, the GOP tax cut which I think was an irresponsible use of government expenditure, but government projects are often financed by a combination of taxes, deficit spending and other kinds of investments, you know, bonds and so on.”
“Well, I get that, but deficit spending is borrowing money that has to be paid back eventually through taxes,” Inskeep reminded the freshman lawmaker.
“Yeah, and I think — I think that is always the crux of it,” she said. “So when we decide to go into the realm of deficit spending, we have to do so responsibly. We ask is this an investment or is this actually going to pay for itself?”