by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Collin Anderson of the Washington Free Beacon documents debate on the political left about spending to address climate change.
Progressive lawmakers and environmental groups are pushing President Joe Biden to include costly aspects of the radical Green New Deal in his administration’s upcoming infrastructure package.
Left-wing Sen. Ed Markey (D., Mass.) introduced the THRIVE Agenda in February and urged the Biden administration to include the proposal in any future economic plan. Like the Green New Deal, the THRIVE Agenda contains idealistic climate goals—notably a carbon-free electric grid by 2035. It is also wildly expensive, calling for $10 trillion in public spending to achieve “real full employment” and “reshape our society” through government jobs—a proposal that would cost five times as much as Democrats’ COVID relief plan.
Unlike the Green New Deal, however, the THRIVE Agenda comes at a time when the White House is friendly toward major environmental reform, and a group of 15 national climate organizations known as the Green New Deal Network is pressuring Biden to “incorporate the entirety of the THRIVE Agenda” into his infrastructure package. …
… Biden did not back the Green New Deal during his campaign but used the legislation as a “crucial framework” for his own climate plan. One of his top climate officials, interior secretary Deb Haaland, introduced a version of the THRIVE Agenda as a congresswoman in September. And multiple White House climate office staffers worked closely with the same environmental groups hounding Biden to adopt the proposal.
For some environmental activists, though, it’s not enough. University of Massachusetts Amherst economist Robert Pollin, who helped craft the THRIVE Agenda, told the Washington Post that the Biden package’s $3 to $4 trillion price tag is “skirting on the edge of being inadequate” to meet progressives’ climate goals. …
… Heartland Institute president James Taylor accused Democrats of proposing “the same climate change extremism bill over and over again and naming it something different each time.”