As Congress begins to address climate change and its dangers with the Democratic call to action called the Green New Deal, Republicans are fighting back with what can be called “highly inaccurate” and misleading statements about the cost of implementing such a deal.
Not really a plan, but just a non-binding resolution, the Green New Deal resolution calls for government to take major steps to reduce and even end greenhouse gas emissions while also creating more income equality and adding “millions of good, high-wage jobs.”
The resolution itself does not give an estimate of what such a plan might cost, but a number whose derivation is suspect has been touted by the Republicans at $93 trillion, a number larger than the economic output of every country on the planet.
The beginning of the fake number is most likely found in a report made by the American Action Forum, a conservative think tank that made gigantic assumptions about how the Democrats might implement the plan. Yet, that number still does not appear in the AAF report. Even AAF President Douglas Holtz-Eakin has stated that he hasn’t a clue how much the Democratic plan might cost.
“Is it billions or trillions?” wondered Holtz-Eakin, who is a former director of the Congressional Budget Office. “Any precision past that is illusory.”
To get to the crazy number of $93 trillion, Republicans added up all the cost estimates in the AAF report. Most of those numbers were based on assumptions, and not facts, about universal health care and jobs programs, not about what it might cost to make the switch to carbon-free power and transportation.
“There’s a race for think-tankers, analysts and academia to be the first to come up with a number, and you can see why — look at how many people latched onto that $93 trillion number,” commented Nick Loris, a Heritage Foundation economist. “A lot of times you just see the number and you don’t get a lot of the backstory behind the number.”
Environmental economist at Harvard University, Robert Stavins explained the nature of the $93 trillion “estimate.”
“Given that the [Green New Deal] is at this point simply a set of long-term goals, without any specification of how those goals would be achieved, any estimate of cost is itself likely to be exceptionally speculative.”