I spoke on Saturday, April 27 on “How to Run on the Green New Deal in 2020” at a fundraiser for the Connecticut Green Party in Portland, CT. They raised over $1,000. I hope my talk helped them to open their wallets for the cause.
Here are the main points I made in my talk. Before tackling the “how” question, I addressed the “what” question: why the Green Party’s Green New Deal needs to be an expanded and ecosocialist program that links economic justice and climate action.
Economic Bill of Rights
Economic justice means finally realizing the Economic Bill of Rights that President Roosevelt in 1944 called upon Congress to enact. The Democrats have never enacted it despite every Democratic president from Roosevelt to Obama having a Democratic majority in both houses for at least one session of Congress. The economic rights should include a job guarantee, an income guarantee, a decent home, comprehensive health are, and a good public education.
This Economic Bill of Rights is integral to the Green New Deal, which must assure people that the transition to a 100% clean energy economy will be a Just Transition that guarantees economic security for all. That is how we build the political majority that will support climate action as well as economic justice.
Green Economy Reconstruction Program
An expanded Green New Deal means a Green Economy. Reconstruction Program to convert of all sectors of production to ecological sustainability, not just energy production. We can’t get to 100% clean renewable energy and net negative greenhouse gas emissions without a green restructuring of all productive sectors, from agriculture to transportation.
An ecosocialist Green New Deal means social ownership, sustainability standards, and democratic planning of key industries in order make the investments and coordinate the ecological conversion of all productive sectors.
The Koch Brothers and Exxon are not going to reinvest their fossil fuel earnings into renewables. We have to nationalize Big Oil to make that happen.
Wind, solar, and water power (hydro, tidal, wave) are intermittent sources of power where they are located, but a constant source of power on a continental scale. We need a national public renewable energy system to coordinate the siting and sharing of wind, solar, and water power and energy storage across the national grid in order to provide reliable power everywhere from clean renewable sources.
Making the interconnected structures of energy, transportation, and urban land use sustainable will require the public renewable energy system to power a public electrified rail network of freight rails, intra-urban light rails, and inter-urban high-speed rails. It will take public planning to make rail networks the principal freight and passenger lines and hubs around which cities, towns, and suburbs can be restructured into energy-efficient walkable communities where all the urban amenities—retail, services, recreation, transit, and more—are within walking distance.
We could go on describing green socialist solutions based on public housing, public broadband, public enterprises, worker co-ops, and organic farms that make a decent income above production costs through parity pricing and supply management programs. The point is that we need a big sector of socially-owned enterprises—both public enterprises and cooperatives—with democratic planning in order to rapidly convert to sustainable production before climate collapse and other pending environmental disasters take us down.
Paying for the Green New Deal
Without detailing a budget here, let’s just understand that it will cost us far more to not implement the Green New Deal. Climate collapse means the collapse of ecosystems, agriculture, and the human economy. And we can’t wait. The multitudes of working families that face crises every month trying to pay for food, rent, utilities, medical bills, and/or tuition and student loans can’t wait either.
More progressive income, wealth, and estate taxes and ecological taxes on carbon and other pollution and resource extraction can provide the operating revenues for the Economic Bill of Rights and other ongoing federal programs.
Cuts in military spending on the order of 50-75% can provide hundreds of billions of a year for the Economic Bill of Rights programs and the Green Economy Reconstruction Program.
Building a green economy will require massive long-term capital investments. Public banks can help target and finance the long-term capital investments at lower cost by bypassing Wall Street fees and profit demands.
Public money can be created for these investments. By nationalizing the Federal Reserve into a Monetary Authority with the sole power to create new money as debt-free Greenbacks (digital money as well as paper notes), much of the capital funding for these long-term investments can be financed without increasing the national debt.
Pending enactment of this radical Greenback demand of Green Party, the US can borrow almost without limit as long as the dollar remains the reserve currency of the world, as the Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) proponents note. In this vein, a Green QE (Quantitative Easing) program could create the investment funds. This time we bail out the people and the climate instead of too-big-to-fail banks. The Treasury Department would sell bonds on the open market and use the proceeds for green investments and other federal programs. The Federal Reserve could support this debt financing if need be by creating money on its books with which to buy these bonds once they have been sold into the open market.
The difference between Greenbacks and Green QE is that, with Green QE, the Treasury Department (i.e., the taxpayers) ultimately has to pay the interest and principal on those treasury bonds. The Greenback dollars (both digital money and paper United States Notes) are debt-free, while the QE dollars (both digital money and paper Federal Reserve Notes) are created by incurring public debt.
Either way, Greenbacks or Green QE dollars, the amount of new money that can be created to finance government programs and investments is limited to what the economy can use for commerce at full capacity. Above that threshold, more money may cause inflation.
The Original Green New Dealers
So how do we campaign on the Green New Deal in 2020?
Greens are the original Green New Dealers. Greens created the platform on which others are now talking about a Green New Deal.
You are welcome, Sunrise Movement and AOC. And thank you and congratulations for getting the Green New Deal into the national spotlight. Now let’s see if we can’t work together to get a full Green New Deal enacted.
The Green Party is still here. Green candidates have a right to be on that platform as the Green New Deal is debated. The Green New Dealers inside the Democratic Party have been marginalized by Pelosi and the rest of the corporate Democratic leadership, and the people need us to keep putting these issues on the front burner.
They need us on the public platforms of Green New Deal debate. Voters don’t want to be taken for granted, and they need us running Green candidates so they have somewhere else to go.
And when they get tired of beating their heads bloody against the corporate Democrats in charge, they are welcome to join the Greens to end corporate rule through the two-party system.
Greens set the standard against which the others now talking about a Green New Deal have measure up. Green candidates must be in that debate to fight against attempts to water down the program, especially to fight attempts to break the link between economic justice and climate action.
For Green candidates, being the original Green New Dealers and setting the standards for the Green New Deal are the hook for media coverage and calling card for inclusion in debates.
During this Anybody-but-Trump time there is more resistance than usual to including the Greens in the mass media and debates. But we get that kind of resistance every election. We are always told this year is not the right year to run.
Greens know how to answer that objection.
The Democrats don’t represent us. They don’t have real solutions to the life or death problems we face.
Democratic attempts to suppress the Green vote is voter suppression plain and simple, no different in principle to Republican schemes to suppress Black, Latinx, poor, and young voters.
Ranked-choice voting for executive offices and proportional representation in legislatures will end the vote-splitting/lesser-evil dilemma of our single-member-district, winner-take-all system.
And while the Anybody-but-Trump sentiment is strong now, the Greens have a faster solution to the Trump problem that the Democrats, if they are really concerned, can do now: Impeach Trump Now!