Howie Hawkins and Angela Walker, leading in the race for the Green Party nomination for President and Vice President, called today for the Green New Deal to be the basis for a COVID-19 economic recovery program as well as a climate action program.
Hawkins said Speaker Pelosi’s HEROES Act was “far short of what people need to deal with massive unemployment and COVID-19 sickness, which are disproportionately afflicting low-wage workers and people of color.”
He criticized Pelosi for rejecting the proposal from progressive Democrats in Congress to have the federal government cover payrolls for struggling businesses, as many European countries have done.
Hawkins also decried the whole Democratic caucus for neglecting the need for Green New Deal public investments to bring the economy back and address the climate crisis. “Trump may call climate change a hoax, but the Democrats act is if it’s a hoax,” Hawkins said.
Angela Walker, Hawkins’ choice for vice president, said, “It is unconscionable that any government that purports to act in the interest of its people would settle for the half-measures proposed by the Democrats.”
Hawkins was the first US candidate to call for a Green New Deal in his 2010 race for Governor of New York. For his current presidential campaign, Hawkins has released a budget for an ecosocialist Green New Deal that calls for 10-year, $27.5 trillion Green Economic Reconstruction Program to convert all production systems—from energy, transportation, and buildings to manufacturing and agriculture—to zero-to-negative carbon emissions and 100% clean energy by 2030. It also provides for a $1.42 trillion per year Economic Bill of Rights to guarantee jobs, income, housing, health care, education, and retirement for all.
“We released the ecosocialist Green New Deal last year to address the climate crisis as well as to end poverty and economic despair. Now we need it as much to recover from the coronavirus economic depression,” Hawkins said.
“In this new economic climate of massive unemployment and small business failures, consumers are limiting their spending to the essentials they can still afford and investors are leery to risk new investments. It is the recipe for another Great Depression. The Ecosocialist Green New Deal’s large-scale public sector investments and planning are needed now to start building an economic recovery,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins noted that the call for a Green New Deal in response to COVID-19 has been widely embraced by elected officials in Europe, from Green parties on the left to more conservative political leaders like German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“In Europe, the governments have focused on subsidizing employers to keep workers on their payrolls and on green infrastructure investments to stimulate their economies. In the US, Trump and Congress have simply allowed unemployment to rise to levels unseen since the Great Depression,” Hawkins said.
“The incompetent response to the COVID-19 pandemic by Huckster-in-Chief Trump has already killed tens of thousands of Americans. The Democrats have failed to stand up to this snake oil salesmanship. And neither governing party has grasped that more people will die from the climate chaos than from the coronavirus. We need to address both crises immediately. Climate change is not pausing while we grapple with this pandemic,” noted Hawkins.
Hawkins also blasted the Trump and Republican-led Senate plan to bail out the fossil fuel industry. “These craven panderers to their Big Oil paymasters are just digging deeper graves for us. Watch out for the Senate Republicans and the House Democrats trade the oil and gas bailout for approval of limited portions of the HEROES Act. That deal would deal out the American people and the climate,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins noted that the World Health Organization estimates that 7 million people worldwide already die annually from air pollution, driven by the burning of fossil fuels. Without dramatic worldwide action to stop planetary heating, the number of deaths from fossil-fuel-driven climate change will continue to increase, driven by extreme weather, the spread of tropical diseases, ecosystem and agriculture degradation, and violent conflicts over food, water, and land.
Since early March, Hawkins has put out a number of releases on how to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, including a call for the COVID-19 relief package now under consideration in Congress to include a set of immediate relief measures to protect jobs, safety on the job, incomes, homes, health care, small businesses, and the November elections.