Overview: The Ecosocialist Green New Deal Budget
Overview of the Budget for the Ecosocialist Green New Deal
Our ecosocialist Green New Deal encompasses two major programs, an Economic Bill of Rights and a Green Economy Reconstruction Program.
The Economic Bill of Rights will finally fulfill President Roosevelt’s call in his 1944 and 1945 State of the Union addresses to Congress to enact programs to secure basic economic human rights for all. It will guarantee for all the rights to a living-wage job, an income above poverty, an affordable home, comprehensive health care, a good public education from childcare and pre-K through college, and a secure retirement.
The Green Economy Reconstruction Program will zero out greenhouse gas emissions and build a 100% clean renewable energy system by 2030. It will reconstruct all economic sectors for zero emissions, clean energy, and ecological sustainability—not only electric power production but also zero-waste manufacturing, regenerative agriculture, green buildings, and electrified transportation. It will also invest in measures to draw carbon out of the atmosphere.
The Economic Bill of Rights will be realized through ongoing programs of public provision funded on a pay-as-you-go basis by progressive taxation. The Green Economy Reconstruction Program will be realized through a plan of public capital investments funded by a combination of progressive taxation, reduced military spending, revenues from the sales of publicly produced goods and services, and public money creation and/or public borrowing.
Ecosocialism will be required to implement a Green New Deal with these objectives. It will require social ownership of key sectors in order to democratically plan the coordinated reconstruction of all economic sectors for ecological sustainability.
We cannot count on Exxon, the Koch Brothers, and other fossil-fuel companies to reinvest their profits in renewables instead of more fossil-fuel extraction, refining, and sales. We cannot count on investor-owned utilities to rapidly phase out their existing infrastructure based on centralized fossil- and nuclear-fueled power plants and replace it with a smart grid infrastructure that can accommodate the distributed and decentralized nature of renewable wind and solar energy sources. We need a public energy system, democratically controlled, in order to reinvest the earnings from fossil-fuel sales during the transition into a 100% clean energy system.
The 2030 deadline was chosen because it is the timeframe that the science of climate and carbon budgets tells us is required of rich countries like the United States if the world is to restore the climate to the safety zone of below 350 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Atmospheric carbon dioxide passed 415 ppm in May 2019.
The budget that follows is an estimate of the costs to give us a good idea of the scale of investments required to zero out emissions and produce 100% clean energy by 2030. We show our homework—how we got our numbers—for comment and future improvement of the budget. We believe we have in this budget the standard by which other Green New Deal proposals should be measured.
We find that an annual investment of over $2.7 trillion will be required for the Green Economy Reconstruction Program, which will create about 30 million new jobs. The Economic Bill of Rights will cost about $1.4 trillion a year and create another 8 million new jobs. The totals for the Green New Deal are therefore about $4.2 trillion a year and about 38 million jobs.
We show how the revenue required can be generated through progressive taxation, reduced military spending, and public money creation and/or public borrowing.
We have not calculated revenues from the sale of goods and services from the public sector industries created such as electricity sales, public transportation fares, public housing rents, and green machinery sales. These revenues will reduce the net costs. What those prices should be are policy decisions that will have to balance the need for revenues and the need to provide some goods and services at lower cost like clean electricity and public transportation to encourage their use.
We have also not calculated another possible source of revenues in ecological taxes on pollution (for example, a carbon tax) and resource extraction, which would also encourage shifts to clean and efficient uses of energy and resources. Public ownership and planning is the central strategy. Ecological taxes to generate revenues and incentivize behavior would be supplemental.
Office of Climate Mobilization
We call for a cabinet-level Office of Climate Mobilization to develop and continually update the details of the budgets and plans to achieve the goals. The Office of Climate Mobilization would be analogous to the Office of War Mobilization established during World War II to coordinate the mobilization of resources for the war effort. The federal government nationalized or built a quarter of US manufacturing during the war in order to turn industry on a dime to defeat the fascist Axis powers. We need to do nothing less to defeat climate change.
Centering Public Ownership and Manufacturing
Our Green New Deal budget is the only Green New Deal proposal to date that puts federal public works projects and manufacturing front and center. The federal government will plan and manage the construction of national, federally owned electrical, transportation, internet, and housing systems and will directly aid in the transformation of our manufacturing, agricultural, transportation, urban, and ecological systems for environmental sustainability. It will rebuild our hollowed-out manufacturing sector for zero waste, zero greenhouse gas emissions, and clean energy.
Public Enterprise and Worker Cooperatives
Unlike the nationalized sector in World War II, which was turned over after the war to the superrich and their giant corporations, the public enterprises created in this program will remain under public ownership for the benefit of all of the people. Some of these enterprises—for example, power utilities and railroads—will remain publicly administered enterprises. Other public enterprises—for example, manufacturing plants—may be leased to worker cooperatives, where the labor process and the distribution of net income will be under workers’ control and every worker will get their full, fair, and equitable share of the value their labor creates.
In 10 years, this plan will eliminate the production of greenhouse gases and begin drawing down atmospheric carbon safely into the biosphere through regenerative agriculture, afforestation, and the restoration of wetlands, mangroves, and other habitats. Because the estimated limits of these natural carbon sequestration measures may be below what is needed at this late date to bring carbon dioxide back below 350 ppm before self-reinforcing processes of global warming take hold, the plan also invests in drawing carbon out of the atmosphere and safely into the geosphere by a solar-powered industrial acceleration of the natural weathering in Earth’s carbon cycle that converts atmospheric carbon into stable carbonates in rocks in Earth’s crust.
The plan will eliminate poverty, unemployment, and underemployment by creating over 38 million good jobs in the course of transforming the nation’s infrastructure and production systems. The plan will increase the incomes and standard of living for the bottom 90% of the population, in all communities: inner city, Rust Belt, and rural America; working class and professional middle class; African-American, white, Latinx, Asian, and indigenous.
All goods and machinery needed for building these systems will be manufactured in the United States, reviving the manufacturing sector, which in turn will empower the working class and unions. Along with infrastructure reconstruction, building this new manufacturing sector will secure a widely shared, sustainable economic prosperity.
Wealth and Quality of Life Before “Growth”
With economic planning and public provision to maximize use value as opposed to exchange value—for example, by ending planned obsolescence and reducing, reusing, and recycling wastes—the economy may shrink as measured by GDP (exchange value) while increasing in usable wealth and quality of life (use value).
Tax the Rich
The only sacrifices will be made by the very wealthy and large corporations, particularly in the military/industrial complex, who will contribute most of the funds needed to pay for this program via higher taxes and demilitarized federal budget priorities.
Declare a Climate Emergency
We call for the next president to declare a climate emergency and use the presidential national emergency powers to take immediate climate actions.
Other Green New Deal Policies
This budget does not cover all of the policies we advocate as part of a Green New Deal climate action program. Among these policies are:
- An immediate federal ban on fracking and new fossil-fuel infrastructure. If we build more fracking wells, pipelines, and refineries for gas-fired power plants and an oil-dependent transportation system, we will lock ourselves into decades more of fossil-fuel burning. The planet will cook and the battle for climate safety will be lost. Indeed, we will have to retire and close much of the existing fossil-fuel extraction, transport, and burning infrastructure—mines, wells, pipelines, refineries, power plants, manufacturing plants, and transportation vehicles—before their normal operating lifetimes are complete if we are to restore atmospheric greenhouse gas levels to a safe level
- A rapid phaseout of nuclear power. Nukes are not clean energy. They are not cost-effective. They are subject to catastrophic accidents. No nukes.
- Uplift Poor Communities. Our Green New Deal will also dedicate a sufficient portion of funds spent on climate action to the economic uplift of poor communities by spending the funds directly on projects in those areas under community direction instead of passing the funds through state governments that have neglected these communities. These communities include oppressed communities of color, people with disabilities, colonized US territories, and indigenous nations.
- Just Transition. The Green New Deal will guarantee that workers and communities affected by the transition to clean energy and civilian production are kept whole during the transition. I t will guarantee workers up to five years of their current wages and benefits, or a good pension for early retirement for those who choose it or can no longer work. Communities that lose tax revenues due the closure of power and manufacturing plants will receive equal revenues until new Green New Deal plants make up the loss. We have not included a separate line item in the budget because the policies to make workers and communities whole are embedded in the Job Guarantee and the federal planning system to rebuild the economy on the basis of clean energy and civilian production, which will the transition for workers in closing plants to new jobs in new Green New Deal plants and construction projects.
We want to acknowledge and thank Jon Rynn for helping us to develop this budget. Jon’s unique contributions over the last decade to the discussion of converting the economy to address the climate crisis and economic security—what is now widely called the Green New Deal—have been his calls for (1) public ownership and planning instead of relying on the profit motive in markets to effectively and rapidly implement the program and (2) rebuilding the hollowed-out American manufacturing sector so we have the capacity to build the new economy for environmental sustainability and economic security for all.
In the middle of Hawkins’s 2010 campaign for governor of New York—as Howie and soon other Greens were the first candidates in the US to campaign for a Green New Deal as the answer to the twin crises of the Great Recession and the climate crisis—Jon Rynn’s book, Manufacturing Green Prosperity, came out, making the case for public enterprise and manufacturing as key approaches to converting the economy to full employment and environmental sustainability. He followed that up with “A Green Manufacturing Stimulus Strategy” in 2014, “What a Green New Deal Should Look Like: Filling in the Details” in February 2019, and many other studies, which can be found on his website: economicreconstruction.org.