WASHINGTON—Republicans have seized on the “Green New Deal” in an effort to paint Democrats as extreme and out of touch on energy policy, attacking the proposal and launching advertisements tying swing-district Democrats to the idea.
Unveiled last week by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D., Mass.), the Green New Deal aims to slow climate change by ending the reliance of the U.S. economy on fossil fuels within 10 years; to upgrade power grids and existing buildings for maximum energy efficiency; to overhaul transportation systems; and to provide every American with a job and health care. The Green New Deal is a statement of goals and doesn’t make specific policy proposals, nor does it specify how it would finance the enormous public investment it would require.
President Trump has mocked the proposal, joining a number of other Republicans who focused fire on the Green New Deal over the weekend.
The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC affiliated with House GOP leadership, launched two digital ads on Monday attacking the Green New Deal and two freshmen Democrats from competitive districts. Neither Reps. Antonio Delgado (D., N.Y.) nor Colin Allred (D., Texas), the targets of the two ads, has formally signed on to the legislation.
In the 2018 midterm campaign, CLF similarly released ads attacking candidates in competitive districts over liberal proposals made by other Democrats.
Nick Rahall, a former Democratic congressman from West Virginia and former chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, said the Green New Deal creates an opportunity for GOP political attacks. “This will not be forgotten by the Republican Party,” he said. “They’ll bring it up in every Rust Belt state they can and every district that is in play.”
Last week’s rollout of the Green New Deal was marred by the circulation of a “Frequently Asked Questions” document by the office of Ms. Ocasio-Cortez. The document included measures not in the Green New Deal resolution, including a promise not to build additional nuclear power plants, a proposal to provide economic security to those “unwilling to work,” and an effort to make air travel obsolete.
Staff for Ms. Ocasio-Cortez deleted the FAQ after it became the locus of criticism from conservatives. Saikat Chakrabarti, chief of staff for Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, tweeted that “an early draft of a FAQ that was clearly unfinished and that doesn’t represent the GND resolution got published to the website by mistake.”
Adding to the confusion, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez tweeted that there were “doctored” versions of the FAQ online, pointing to the text of the resolution itself as the only reliable source.
Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s office didn’t respond to requests for further comment.
While Democratic Party leadership has stopped short of endorsing the Green New Deal, many presidential candidates, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), Cory Booker (D., N.J.), Kamala Harris (D., Calif.), Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.) have signed on to the plan. Almost 70 House Democrats have co-sponsored the resolution, which is a series of goals for future legislation.
The confusion over the FAQ has emboldened Republicans seeking to discredit the proposal and tar the Democrats for supporting it. Rep. Greg Walden, the ranking Republican on the Energy and Commerce Committee, said Republicans barely have to attack the proposal because of the Democratic missteps.
“They’re doing a pretty good job of it themselves with their Frequently Asked Question responses and wanting to apparently get rid of airlines in 10 years and cows after that,” said Mr. Walden, who represents a district in Oregon. “This is pretty consequential legislation.”
Democrats who support the plan say that dramatic societal change is necessary to stave off the worst consequences of climate change. The U.S. Climate Assessment from scientists in the Trump administration warned last year that climate change could cost the economy hundreds of billions of dollars a year by the end of the century. It also noted that the U.S. hasn’t taken the steps necessary to counteract the effects of rising temperatures, which include water shortages, flooding, worsening wildfires and air pollution.
“It will only be through an historic, generational commitment to end climate change that we create the kind of democracy that works for all Americans,” said Mr. Markey.
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