Live Free Or Die: America (and the World) on the Brink (10 page)

BOOK: Live Free Or Die: America (and the World) on the Brink
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“Right from the outset, the six-page document laying out the ‘Green New Deal' seemed like a joke,” quipped columnist Joseph Curl, “something a few devious wags in the Republican Party whipped up to parody an expansive environmental plan conjured by Democratic Socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez…. Apparently, a sixth-
grader was given a homework assignment that read: ‘What would you do if you had a gazillion dollars to make the world shiny and perfect?' ”
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President Trump captured the absurd grandiosity of the plan in a tweet a few days after its release. “I think it is very important for the Democrats to press forward with their Green New Deal,” Trump tweeted. “It would be great for the so-called ‘Carbon Footprint' to permanently eliminate all Planes, Cars, Cows, Oil, Gas & the Military—even if no other country would do the same. Brilliant!”
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But in fairness to AOC, she's trying her best not to be unrealistic. After all, according to a document released by her office, “We set a goal to get to net-zero, rather than zero emissions, in 10 years because we aren't sure we'll be able to fully get rid of farting cows and airplanes that fast, but we think we can ramp up renewable manufacturing and power production, retrofit every building in America, build the smart grid, overhaul transportation and agriculture, plant lots of trees and restore our ecosystem to get to net-zero.”
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On another occasion, she suggested the world will end within twelve years. So what's the point of saving it? Might as well just have one big good-bye party. Can you see why Curl thought the GND seemed like a Republican parody of environmental nuttiness?

I'm not sure where PETA stands on getting rid of all farting cows, though they'd probably be thrilled with eliminating airplanes. But just think about retrofitting every home and building in this country (there are 136 million homes) for energy efficiency!
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Imagine waving your magic wand and creating a good-paying job for every American, “high-quality education, including higher education and trade schools,” and “economic security for all who are unable or unwilling to work.”
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Why didn't President Trump think of that? Don't overlook the word “unwilling” in that sentence. As a thought experiment, let's assume you think it's moral for the government, using taxpayers' money, to support sluggards who refuse to support themselves. In your wildest dreams, do you think there are enough simultaneously stupid and industrious people in America to pull that off? Yet many
on the left treat this absurd fantasy as a legitimate economic and environmental blueprint.

As for the plan's price tag, “I think we really need to get to $10 trillion to have a shot,” said AOC. “I know it's a ton. I don't think anyone wants to spend that amount of money… but it's just the fact of the scenario.”
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Well, if $10 trillion is a “ton,” then a more realistic estimate of the cost by the American Action Forum—from $51 trillion to $93 trillion—is between five and nine tons.
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A study by Power the Future and the Competitive Enterprise Institute calculated that the GND would cost a typical American household more than $70,000 in its first year, $45,000 per year for the next four years, and $37,000 a year thereafter.
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But here's the kicker: the Green New Deal would have barely any impact on the climate. In fact, even if the United States outlawed all carbon emissions, the earth's temperature would decrease by less than 0.2 degrees Celsius by the year 2100. If the entire world joined in—which it won't (major emitters like India and China are reluctant to sabotage their own economies)—the temperature would decrease by less than 0.4 degrees.
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These stunning facts tell us all we need to know about AOC and her band of climate zealots. If we do everything they demand, we'll end up with totalitarian socialism and the same “climate emergency” they claim exists today. And it's a safe bet that even the vast societal transformation envisioned by the GND is not the end point but just the beginning. As Elizabeth Warren exclaimed at a CNN town hall event on February 20, 2020, the Green New Deal “is not enough.”
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For his part, Biden, under pressure from the left, released a twenty-two-page climate plan in June 2019, embracing the Green New Deal “framework.” Though some leftists didn't believe Biden went far enough because his initial proposal called for eliminating the nation's carbon footprint by 2050 instead of AOC's and Markey's 2030 deadline, the
Washington Post
reported that his plan “adopts the rhetoric—and at times, many of the actual policy proposals—of the Green New Deal resolution.”
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Demonstrating both his tendency to pander to his party's radicals and that he still hasn't fully repented for his history of plagiarism, Biden admitted through his campaign that portions of his climate plan had been lifted word for word, without credit, from publications of environmental groups.
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As the campaign proceeded Biden drifted further left on the issue, suggesting the Democrats push for Green New Deal provisions in the second coronavirus stimulus bill. “We're going to have an opportunity, I believe, in the next round [of economic aid] here to use… my Green New Deal to be able to generate both [
sic
] economic growth as consistent with the kind of infusion of monies we need into the system to keep it going,” said Biden.
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MEDICARE FOR ALL AND OTHER FREEBIES

The GND's promise to provide “high-quality health care” for “all people of the United States” is laughable way before you analyze its probable cost. You simply cannot legislatively guarantee high-quality universal care, when all proposals promising it decimate supply and demand and free market incentives that lead to higher quality at lower costs. But when you consider the projected costs, you're entering the Twilight Zone. Bernie Sanders took a stab at socialized medicine by concocting his Medicare for All plan, which would cost an inconceivable $32 trillion over a decade, according to the Urban Institute, a liberal group whose estimates are nearly identical to those of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.
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Elizabeth Warren proposed an arguably more ambitious Medicare for All plan that some say could cost $52 trillion over a decade. Others estimate the price at $34 trillion,
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but why quibble over a mere $18 trillion when Warren insisted her plan would not entail any tax increase on middle-class families?
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Both plans would be government run and provide comprehensive health coverage for every American with almost zero deductibles, copayments, or premiums. “At the
heart of the ‘Medicare for all' proposals championed by Senator Bernie Sanders and many Democrats is a revolutionary idea: Abolish private health insurance,” wrote the
New York Times
' Reed Abelson and Margot Anger-Katz.
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“There's no precedent in American history that compares to this,” said Paul Starr, a sociology professor at Princeton University.
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Biden initially criticized the cost of Medicare for All, proposing instead a public option to compete with private health insurance. After Sanders's withdrawal from the race, Biden predictably moved left on this issue and suggested lowering the Medicare age to sixty. That wasn't far enough to spare him harsh criticism from AOC and other leftists whose support is critical to rally the party behind Biden. “The trouble is, of course, that even if rank-and-file Democrats don't act as though they think there's a big difference between [Medicare for All] and Biden's public-option scheme, the progressive opinion leaders they need to unite the Democratic Party most definitely do, and, like Sanders and AOC, they're not going to be quiet about it,” notes liberal writer Ed Kilgore.
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He adds that Biden must begin to make “serious concessions to the left on health-care policy or let it be known quietly that he's gone as far as he can.”

Disturbingly, Kilgore observes that a silver lining of the coronavirus pandemic is that it's created a “new context” for “policy proposals thought to be too extravagant earlier.”
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This is how progressives think—as Rahm Emanuel famously said, “Never let a crisis go to waste.” Biden already exploited this “new context” in pushing for Green New Deal provisions in the stimulus bill, as noted. As his party's leader, he can never be trusted to reject Medicare for All, even if he doesn't endorse it during the election campaign.

Of course, the Democrats' fiscally ruinous proposals don't end with Medicare for All. Warren also proposed “a bold new Universal Child Care and Early Learning plan” to “guarantee high-quality child care and early education for every child in American from birth to school age.” She claimed, “In the wealthiest country on the planet, access to affordable and high-quality child care and early education
should be a right, not a privilege reserved for the rich.” Under her plan, free child care would be provided to all families with income below 200 percent of the federal poverty line. A family with income above the line would pay no more than 7 percent of its income.
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The plan would cost $700 billion over ten years, which Warren would finance with her new wealth tax.
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Sanders proposed a plan for tuition-free college, which would cost $807 billion over a decade, according to the Tax Policy Center. Warren and Sanders had separate plans to cancel all student debt, which would cost a staggering $1.6 trillion
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—though perversely, the outrageous price tags of the Green New Deal and Medicare for All make this scheme seem cheap by comparison. And that's to say nothing of its unfairness. One voter at an Iowa campaign event gave Warren a piece of his mind. “I just wanted to ask one question. My daughter is getting out of school. I've saved all my money. She doesn't have any student loans. Am I going to get my money back?” Warren responded, “Of course not.” The man shot back, “So you're going to pay for people who didn't save any money and those of us who did the right thing get screwed.” Warren had no answer beyond huffing and puffing.
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We need more such displays of common sense. Democrats preach about fairness but don't know the first thing about it. This man's indignation resonates with middle-class voters, and the Democrats have no answer for it—so we must frame the Democrats' giveaways just as this outraged voter did. Further proving his pandering flexibility, as soon as Sanders suspended his presidential bid, Biden also said he would erase undergraduate student debt for anyone earning $125,000 a year or less.
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Many of the Democrats' other plans are similarly couched in terms of fairness but wholly unfair, unworkable, and fiscally catastrophic. Their federal job guarantee for every American at the increased minimum wage of $15 per hour plus benefits would cost almost $7 trillion over a decade, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal group.
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Additionally, economists have long agreed that
big minimum wage hikes harm the people they're designed to help by incentivizing businesses to cut their workforce—the last thing we need as we try to recover from the economic damage of the coronavirus. Then there was Sanders's Social Security expansion plan, at a projected cost of nearly $200 billion over the next decade, and $270 billion for his paid family and medical leave program.
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It must be easy for socialists to sleep at night. If you think money grows on government trees, why not promise that the state will provide, free of charge, for all the main expenses in a person's entire life and guarantee a job to boot? Of course, no government on earth has the funds to pay those expenses, especially when you consider the many millions of newcomers who would be entitled to these benefits if the Democrats succeed in abolishing the border.

FINANCING THE INSANITY

As I've told you, the Democrats view the economy as a zero-sum game and legislate as if their policies will have no impact on taxpayers' incentives to produce, save, or spend. So to them, it's a matter of simple math (more like Common Core math), where any amount of government spending can be financed by tax increases. They recognize virtually no legal or practical restraints on taxing and spending—the only criterion is whether it will serve their ends.

The framers never intended the government to act as a giant wealth redistribution factory. The original Constitution, says constitutional scholar John O. McGinnis, didn't allow Congress to redistribute wealth.
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Even the power to tax income, for example, didn't become part of the Constitution until 1913, with the Sixteenth Amendment. But the left couldn't care less about the framers' intentions. They view government as a vehicle to reallocate resources according to a central plan, while the people are entitled to keep only the money they earn that's not needed to fulfill the plan. Remember, leftists are
socialists, and socialists reject private property. Have you ever heard a leftist wrestling with the morality or constitutionality of any tax or spending increases—other than for the military or a border wall?

Government spending and taxing do affect saving, investing, spending, and economic growth. Even if it were consistent with the American idea for government to tax and spend with reckless abandon, the government couldn't finance unlimited spending increases through unlimited taxes because burdensome taxes stunt economic growth, and the government can't finance projects by printing money it doesn't have. The more the government taxes and spends, the more it restricts our liberties.

But these objections fall on deaf leftist ears. This is clear when you consider the impossible tax burden needed to fund the Democrats' Green New Deal, Medicare for All, and the rest of their statist wish list. The enormous government spending necessitated by the coronavirus shutdown is alarming, but can you imagine how much worse that spending would be—for all kinds of projects totally unrelated to the virus—had Democrats been in control of both the White House and Congress? Many Americans rightly criticized the inclusion in the stimulus of frivolous spending such as $25 million for the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., but just consider some of the items Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tossed into her own proposed stimulus bill: eliminating $11 billion of U.S. Postal Service debt; creating a cash-for-clunkers program for airplanes; providing $1.2 billion for “sustainable aviation fuels”; allocating $1 billion for a new version of the failed Obamaphone program; providing pension funding relief for newspapers; and $300 million each for the National Endowment of the Humanities and the National Endowment of the Arts.
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