Green New Deal champion Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has criticized Biden’s plan, claiming that it doesn’t do nearly enough to combat the looming climate crisis.
- President Biden unveiled a $2 trillion infrastructure plan – the American Jobs Plan that supposedly addresses the climate change and job loss debate which the earlier Green New Deal lacked.
- The Opposition leaders, Republicans have called the deal a rehash of the GND and criticizing the package as being too large.
- How is Biden’s New Infrastructure Plan any different from the earlier drafted Green New Deal?
- Biden intends to tax the wealthiest Americans over the course of 15 years to fund his American Jobs Plan.
US President Joe Biden unveiled a $2 trillion infrastructure plan – dubbed as the American Jobs Plan – at an event in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania last month. The plan that promises to upgrade and overhaul America’s infrastructure, taking a double-pronged approach to fight climate change as well as create new jobs in the process has, predictably, stirred up a debate storm.
Reacting to Biden’s claim that this transformational effort could pave the roadmap for the “most resilient, innovative economy in the world”, the Republicans have called it a rehash of the Green New Deal. On the other hand, Green New Deal champion Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has criticized Biden’s plan, claiming that it doesn’t do nearly enough to combat the looming climate crisis.
So, is Biden’s new infrastructure plan an old wine in a new bottle? Can it serve as a concrete foundation for a comprehensive climate change policy? Let’s take a look:
What is the Green New Deal?
The Green New Deal (GND), which is inspired by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal to combat the Great Depression, seeks policy-level transformation to address the issue of climate change. To that end, it calls for increased investment in renewable, clean energy as well as harnessing sustainable resources, and blending these efforts with Roosevelt’s economic agenda of job creation and closing the gap of economic inequality.
In line with these objectives, Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez, along with Senator Edward Markey, released a 14-page GND resolution. The “Congressional resolution that lays out a grand plan for tackling climate change” calls for the US to lead the way in emission reduction, working toward the goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emission by 2030. And do so while creating jobs, increasing minimum wages, establishing accessible healthcare for all.
Watch: What is the proposed Green New Deal?
Is Biden’s Plan a Rehash of the GND?
In the first glance, President Biden’s new infrastructure plan seems to mimic the GND, touching upon the very themes highlighted in the resolution. However, a closer look at the details highlights the difference between the two. In his first Presidential Debate in 2020, Biden had categorically stated that he did not support the GND in its current shape and form.
Adding that in his version, the measures taken for sustainable change will pay for themselves. Much like the GND, Biden’s new infrastructure plan also aims to combat climate change through an increased focus on cleaner, renewable energy sources, while also improving infrastructure such as drinking water, commute time and broadband services.
However, unlike the GND, Biden’s plan put tangible figures and timelines for driving these changes. For starters, the President has put a $2 trillion price tag on reforming the US infrastructure and economy whereas the GND leaves cost estimates undefined. Biden has also proposed tax increases over a period of 15 years to foot these costs.
Another key difference between the two initiatives is that Biden’s plan places a 2050 deadline to meet the net-zero emission goals, as opposed to 2030 of the GND. Experts believe the former to be a more realistic goal. The plan also paves the way for a Climate Conservation Corps with primary goals of expanding the electric vehicle market in the US as well as conserving public lands.
In addition to this, the infrastructure overhaul proposal allocates hefty funds for different verticals – $621 billion for transportation, $400 billion for home care services and workforce, $300 billion for manufacturing, $213 billion for housing, $180 billion for research and development, $111 billion for water, $100 billion each for schools, digital infrastructure and workforce development, and $18 billion for veterans’ hospitals and federal buildings.
How will Biden Pay for it?
The question looming over this ambitious plan is how the President plans to foot the enormous cost of transforming America’s infrastructure and economy. Biden has said that the spending that would take place over a span of eight years would be recovered through increased taxes in 15 years, eventually leading to levelling out of the budget deficit. The key areas where President Biden intends to raise taxes include:
- Corporate Tax: Biden is proposing raising corporate income tax from 21% to 28%.
- Tax on book income: A minimum tax of 15% on book income – which is the income corporations report to investors – rather than taxing income reported to Internal Revenue Services
- Global minimum tax: To deter sheltering profits in tax havens abroad, the plan seeks to increase minimum tax on US-based multinational corporations to 21%. The income for this tax will be calculated on a country-by-country basis.
- Corporate inversions: Setting in place deterrents for US companies to merge with foreign businesses with an objective of avoiding taxes.
In theory, the infrastructure plan seems like a robust policy decision capable of driving long overdue change. However, the proposal still needs the approval of the US Congress and Senate, where it could be diluted, amended, altered on many levels. The finish line is not in sight yet, but at least, the first step has been taken.