In a bit of political gamesmanship, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is forcing a vote Tuesday in the Senate on the so-called Green New Deal, the progressive resolution to address climate change.
The resolution has no chance of passing. Republicans certainly won’t vote for it and many Democrats plan to vote “present" in rejection of what they’ve called a stunt by McConnell.
Still, the Green New Deal has become a talker and is an early litmus test for Democrats vying for the 2020 nomination, especially among the Senators who will now need to vote on this tomorrow. And in an op-ed in USA Today on the eve of the vote, Sen. Marco Rubio mocks that enthusiasm.
“It appears the effort to ‘save the planet from melting’ is really just a cynical publicity stunt by people who think America is a planet," Rubio wrote. "Reality check: America is not a planet, and countries like China would happily watch us jump over the cliff by destroying our economy with the Green New Deal.”
Like many Republicans, Rubio latched on to elements of the Green New Deal that have less to do with the environment and advocate for the progressive vision of its authors, including universal higher education, job guarantees and affordable health care for all. Rubio called this “a grab bag of their radical agenda to transform America into the kind of socialist utopia that only exists in fiction.”
(PolitiFact has a well-researched round up of what exactly is included in the proposal. Read it here.)
Instead of proposing an aggressive reduction in carbon emissions, Rubio said Congress should focus on “not flashy” solutions to these ‘complex issues.’ He specifically points to the South Atlantic Coastal Study, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study that will plan resiliency projects for the southeast.
“In many ways, the Green New Deal makes real progress on complex issues like climate change all the more difficult," Rubio continued. "If the Green New Deal is the new litmus test of the radical left, genuine efforts like the SACS become nonstarters in their eyes.”
Many scientists, though, have said resiliency and climate mitigation won’t be enough to stave off the totality of the effects of climate change and that a sharp reduction in carbon emissions is needed in the next 12 years to prevent further increase in the earth’s temperature. Instead, climate scientists and economists, including several past federal reserve chairs, have said that a tax on carbon is the only way to discourage emissions on a scale that will improve future outcomes.
Rubio’s op-ed doesn’t mention the words “carbon" or "pollution.”