March 5, 2019

Green New Deal: Nonsense on Stilts


  • The Green New Deal is primarily a vehicle for socialist policies that have nothing to do with climate change.
  • It would cost up to $93 trillion over 10 years, and the vast majority of the cost would come from the parts that have the least to do with climate change.
  • Many parts of the GND are simply bizarre, including commitments to “repair historic oppression of … youth” and guaranteeing paid vacations.

The Green New Deal is possibly the most expensive, most confusing, and least thought-through idea ever to garner 12 cosponsors in the United States Senate. Costing up to $93 trillion over 10 years, it reads less like a serious climate-change proposal and more like a wish list of socialist programs, none of which have any details on implementation. Among the most prominent provisions are:

  • Requiring net zero carbon emissions within 10 years;

  • Producing 100 percent of power from renewable energy sources; and

  • Guaranteeing health care, jobs, housing, and college.

Durbin GND Quote

How Expensive is it?

The Green New Deal does not contain enough detail to precisely estimate the cost of implementing all of its required goals. The American Action Forum analyzed the largest parts and projected a cost between $51 and $93 trillion over 10 years. Annually, that is anywhere from four to seven times the level of all federal discretionary spending in fiscal year 2018. The overall cost amounts to as much as $65,000 per household annually.

The 10-year cost for some of the plan’s components would be:

  • $6.8 trillion to $44.6 trillion for guaranteed jobs;

  • $36 trillion for federally provided universal health care;

  • $5.4 trillion to create an all-renewable electric system; and

  • $1.6 trillion to $4.2 trillion for guaranteed green housing.

These numbers do not include spending to achieve more nebulous but still mandatory goals under the GND, such as “economic security” and universal paid vacations for every American. Also undetermined is the cost of “repairing historic oppression of indigenous peoples, communities of color, migrant communities, deindustrialized communities, depopulated rural communities, the poor, low-income workers, women, the elderly, the unhoused, people with disabilities, and youth.” No reliable cost estimates exist on reparations for the youth.

Green New Deal Cost Comparisons

 GND Cost Comparisons 

It is difficult to find historical projects with a cost approaching $93 trillion. Even adjusting for inflation:

  • Rebuilding the entire interstate highway system every year for a century would cost a relative pittance: $36 trillion.

  • If the United States repeated the entire New Deal every year for a century, the price would be $65 trillion.

  • Funding not just our military, but all the militaries in the world for 50 years at 2016 levels would come to about $84 trillion.

With the amount of money we could spend on the Green New Deal, Washington could afford to:

  • Buy 37 trillion McDonald’s Happy Meals;

  • Rebuild the Statue of Liberty out of gold – and then build another 10,000 copies;

  • Purchase more than 7,000 Ford-class aircraft carriers;

  • Build four copies of the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium in every town, city, and municipality in the country;

  • Buy every American tickets to Disney World – with a meal plan and resort accommodations – every day for more than two years; or

  • Fill Lake Michigan with Coca Cola.

Issue Tags: Energy, Senate