How embarrassing is the green new deal?
So embarrassing that when Senate majority leader McConnell tried to force the Democratic party’s presidential contenders into an embarrassing vote over the berserk, MMT-inducing climate-change proposal (which Republicans are confident that even sober liberal will oppose), not a single Democrat voted for it. Instead, in the vote which was blocked late on Tuesday with a vote of 0-57, 43 Democrats voted merely "present", including the Senate’s half-dozen presidential candidates, to sidestep the GOP maneuver and, as Bloomberg put it, "buy time to build their campaign positions."
The vote was the first of many attempts by Republicans to force (socialist, MMT) supporters of the Green New Deal to come into the spotlight and suffer the public scrutiny. The proposal - mostly a collection of goals for mitigating climate change rather than a fully formed plan of action - which according to some would cost north of $100 trillion and would require the launch of helicopter money, also known as "MMT", has been a favorite target for criticism by McConnell and Republicans ever since freshman Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts rolled it out in February.
“I could not be more glad that the American people will have the opportunity to learn precisely where each one of their senators stand on this radical, top-down, socialist makeover of the entire U.S. economy,” McConnell said before the vote.
Alas, that opportunity was denied because instead of voicing their support for the most ludicrous proposal in socialist history, 43 Democrats decided to take the easy way out.
Even the six Democratic presidential contenders, including Cory Booker of New Jersey, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Kamala Harris of California, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, all voted present.
At this point, the candidates for the Democratic nomination generally haven’t spelled out specific proposals. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey has called the Green New Deal “bold,” and Senator Kamala Harris of California has said it’s “an investment” worth the cost. Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota described it somewhat less enthusiastically, as an “aspiration” to act on climate change.
Fresh off what has been dubbed the best day in Trump's presidency, on Tuesday Trump, no longer the subject of Russia collusion conspiracy theories, met with Senate Republicans at the Capitol, and according to Lindsey Graham the president told them regarding the Green New Deal, “make sure you don’t kill it too much because I want to run against it” in 2020.
Well, so far so good. In an attempt to save face with progressives, Adam Green, a co-founder of the grassroots Progressive Change Campaign Committee, said McConnell was trying to force some “no” votes at a time when Democrats are still reviewing the plan. Voting “present” shows that Democrats aren’t going to hamper things with an early dissent, he said.
While the "present" votes were to be expected, what came as a surprise is that three Democrats voted with Republicans against the resolution including Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Doug Jones of Alabama, who faces a tough re-election campaign next year in a deep-red state. Independent Angus King of Maine, a member of the Democratic caucus, also voted against the measure.
The challenge for Democrats looking ahead to next year’s campaigns is to avoid having their support for a still-evolving climate proposal tarred by Republican efforts to portray it as an extremist agenda that would do away with hamburgers and airplane travel.
“It’s one thing to be on the campaign trail and say here is what I believe in and fill in the details,” said Democratic strategist Rodell Mollineau, who was a top aide to former Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid. “It’s another thing to go on record and let other people fill in the details for you.”
As Bloomberg notes, "the Green New Deal has more than 100 congressional Democrats as co-sponsors, including the six senators running for president. While Democrats are united on the need for significant action to stem climate change, they don’t agree on specific proposals." As a result, McConnell introduced his own version, drawing on the language of the Democratic measure.
Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer tried to shield Democrats from having to expose splits between moderates and progressives on the issue. He dismissed the vote as “gotcha politics” intended by Republicans to distract from the fact that they don’t have their own plan to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
“Republicans want to force this political stunt to distract from the fact that they neither have a plan nor a sense of urgency to deal with the threat of climate change,” he said.
Following tonight's Senate vote, Democrats plan to introduce a resolution in the House this week that calls for the U.S. to remain part of the Paris Climate Accord and requires the Trump administration to create a plan to meet its emission reduction goal, according to a senior Democratic aide. As a reminder, in 2017 Trump announced that he intends to pull out of the Paris agreement, under which the U.S. pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 26 percent from 2005 levels by 2025.
While Senate Democrats weren’t under any real pressure from outside progressive groups to vote for the Green New Deal at this point, they will be in due course.
Meanwhile, capitalizing on the ultra-liberal faction within the Democratic Party, the GOP’s message focuses on the botched February rollout of the proposal, which included the release of documents from Ocasio-Cortez’s office promising economic security even for those “unwilling to work,” and suggesting the eventual elimination of air travel and “farting cows.”