Democrats struggled Sunday to defend the Green New Deal after Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s botched roll-out threatened to turn the sweeping climate plan into a national punchline.
Pete Buttigieg, a Democrat running for the 2020 presidential nomination, called it “the right beginning” and “right direction” while stressing that the nonbinding resolution was “more of a plan than it is a fully articulated set of policies.”
“Look, it’s a framework,” Mr. Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “Obviously, the Green New Deal, as we have seen it so far, is more of a plan than it is a fully articulated set of policies.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, was less diplomatic, calling the Green New Deal’s proposals “nuts.”
“These people have gone insane in terms of trying to fix problems,” Mr. Graham said on Fox’s “Sunday Morning Futures.” “The Green Deal is basically an economic nightmare for the country.”
Critics on both sides of the aisle have questioned the Green New Deal’s demand to phase out fossil fuels by 2030; retrofit all U.S. buildings; implement a federal jobs guarantee; overhaul the transportation sector with high-speed rail; and provide universal health care.
The document has also spurred jokes over an accompanying fact sheet that said sponsors settled for a goal of net-zero carbon dioxide emissions “because we aren’t sure we’ll be able to fully get rid of farting cows and airplanes that fast,” as well as “economic security for all who are unable or unwilling to work.”
“In the document, I don’t know what this has got to do with climate change, they guarantee … pay, not a job, for people unable to work or unwilling to work,” Mr. Graham said. “They ban cows, basically. This is nuts.”
Rep. Tim Ryan, Ohio Democrat, said he disagreed with paying those unwilling to work, but that proposals such as Medicare for All and the Green New Deal are “value statements.”
“These plans I think, across the board, really are value statements. These are value documents,” Mr. Ryan said. “I believe that every able-bodied American needs to go to work. They need to work hard just like everybody else. But work needs to pay, too, and the problem is that for most workers in the last 30 years, they haven’t seen a raise.”
As for Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, “I think what she’s trying to do is to highlight these issues,” he said.
Other Democrats have been more critical. Ernest Moniz, former Energy Secretary in the Obama administration, suggested the proposal was “impractical,” while Paul Bledsoe, climate adviser to then-President Bill Clinton, said, “Democrats need to channel the enthusiasm in more practical directions.”
“I sincerely believe that the Green New Deal effort will help compel Congress to grapple with actual climate legislation, and I think there are many specific approaches that could be effective,” said Mr. Bledsoe, strategic advisor for the Progressive Policy Institute. “But it’s important that they not make blanket sweeping statements that can’t be achieved.”
Sen. Chris Murphy, Connecticut Democrat, insisted the Green New Deal resolution is “absolutely realistic,” after being told Sen. Angus King, Vermont independent, described it as “unrealistic.”
“I think it’s absolutely realistic, and I frankly think we need to set our sights high,” Mr. Murphy said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s staff has told media outlets that the fact sheet, or FAQ, was an unfinished draft not intended for publication. A similar document posted on the New York Democrat’s website was removed Thursday.
Several top Democratic 2020 presidential contenders, including Sens. Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala D. Harris and Elizabeth Warren, tweeted their support for the Green New Deal after it was unveiled Thursday, and Mr. Booker continued to defend it as criticism surfaced.
“There’s a lot of people now going back on the Green New Deal. They’re like, ‘Oh it’s impractical, oh it’s too expensive, oh it’s all of this,’ ” Mr. Booker told a crowd in Mason City, Iowa. “If we used to govern our dreams that way, we would have never gone to the moon.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota Democrat, said nothing about the Green New Deal during her presidential announcement Sunday, although she did call for action on climate change, such as reinstating the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan.
Rep. Mark Meadows, North Carolina Republican, described the plan as “ridiculous.”
“Come on, we’ve gotten to the point where we see it as ridiculous, the American people see it as ridiculous, nobody here on Capitol Hill is really looking at this and taking it seriously, but they should,” Mr. Meadows said on Fox’s “Watters’ World.”
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