GOP, business groups blast AOC's 'Green New Deal'

Courtesy: Sinclair Broadcast Group

WASHINGTON (SBG) - Leading Republicans and major trade groups derided the "Green New Deal" put forward this week by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., the avowed socialist who is a rising star in her party, as a "socialist superpackage" that would protect neither the environment nor jobs for low-income and disadvantaged Americans.

"If six million jobs being lost or changed or altered is the starting point -- and maybe low -- we haven't thought this one through," scoffed Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, the ranking Republican on the House Natural Resources Committee, in an interview with Sinclair on Friday.

"As you increase costs, which this will obviously do for any kind of energy...those who are on the lower level of society, those who are most vulnerable in our society, will be the first ones that are going to be hurt. And they will be hurt the worst," said Rep. Bishop.

Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Md., unveiled the far-reaching program in a Capitol Hill news conference on Thursday. Introduced not as formal legislation but as a non-binding resolution in each chamber of Congress, the "Green New Deal" couples a major overhaul of environmental laws with sweeping changes to the economy. Among its proposals are a reduction of American greenhouse gas emissions that would contribute to a net-zero global impact by the year 2050. The package also calls for universal health care, the standardization of wages and hours for virtually all industries, the creation of more union jobs at guaranteed wage levels, and even the potential payment of reparations to selected minority groups.

That last provision appeared to be the intent of a passage that would have the federal government "honoring all treaties and agreements with indigenous peoples, and protecting and enforcing the sovereignty and land rights of indigenous peoples" -- a reference that could refer to African-Americans disenfranchised by slavery and the Jim Crow era, as well as to Native Americans.

"There is no justice, and there is no combating climate change, without addressing what has happened to indigenous communities," Rep. Ocasio-Cortez said Thursday. "That means that there is no fixing our economy without addressing the racial wealth gap."

"We are talking about jobs and justice," Sen. Markey said. "We are talking about the greatest blue-collar job-creation program in a generation."

But leading business groups, especially those tied to the energy industry, greeted the plan with a mix of skepticism and outright hostility.

“There are two competing approaches to addressing our country’s challenges such as climate change, healthcare and income inequality," said U.S. Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President Neil Bradley. "In one approach, as exemplified by the 'Green New Deal,' government asserts control over most of our economy, passing along the enormous costs and bureaucratic inefficiencies to everyday Americans. In the other, our robust system of free enterprise rises to the challenge, tapping into our deep well of ingenuity and creativity....The Chamber stands firmly behind the power of free enterprise, and we welcome this debate.”

Mike Sommers, president of the American Petroleum Institute, told WJR-AM radio in Detroit on Friday that energy policy "has to be built on reality and not fantasy." The "Green New Deal," he said, "is not realistic at all in terms of what our future energy needs are going to be. Right now the world demands about a 100 million barrels of oil a day. Replacing that with prescriptions that aren’t realistic isn’t even worthy of a conversation in my view."

Among the most curious reactions was that of House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who appeared disinterested in the plan, even dismissive. In an interview with POLITICO, she referred to "the Green Dream, or whatever they call it," and suggested it would receive no preferential treatment, as Democrats begin to assert their control over key House committees, over other ideas for how to shore up the environment.

"Quite frankly I haven't seen it, but I do know that it's enthusiastic and we welcome all the enthusiasms that are out there," Pelosi said during her weekly news conference.
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