Saturday, February 9, 2019

AOC Rolls Out the New Green Deal, Nuts and Bolts to Follow Someday

AOC using one of Eisenhower's National Defense Highways

My new favorite Member of Congress really needs to work on her very skimpy official website. It seems to have been ignored while her staff rushed that New Green Deal resolution out the door this week. At least for now, the resolution is still up on her website (read it here), which is something you can't say about the FAQ document that was released simultaneously with the resolution but then quickly withdrawn.

Exactly why the FAQs were withdrawn we aren't told, but I wouldn't be surprised if Speaker Pelosi had a word with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez about the FAQs' unrestrained utopianism, especially the part about "economic security for all who are unable or unwilling to work."

You can read the initial version of her FAQs here, as published by NPR last Thursday as part of the Green New Deal resolution launch.

Here's the FAQ overview:
We will begin work immediately on Green New Deal bills to put the nuts and bolts on the plan described in this resolution (important to say so someone else can’t claim this mantle).[TSB comment: Presumably that “important to … claim this mantle” phrase was a drafter’s comment and not intended to be published. Evidence of the rushed nature of the document, or of sloppy staff work, or both.]

This is a massive transformation of our society with clear goals and a timeline.

The Green New Deal resolution [is] a 10-year plan to mobilize every aspect of American society at a scale not seen since World War 2 to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and create economic prosperity for all. It will:

· Move America to 100% clean and renewable energy

· Create millions of family supporting-wage, union jobs

· Ensure a just transition for all communities and workers to ensure economic security for people and communities that have historically relied on fossil fuel industries

· Ensure justice and equity for frontline communities by prioritizing investment, training, climate and community resiliency, economic and environmental benefits in these communities

· Build on FDR’s second bill of rights by guaranteeing:

· A job with a family-sustaining wage, family and medical leave, vacations, and retirement security

· High-quality education, including higher education and trade schools

· Clean air and water and access to nature

· Healthy food

· High-quality health care

· Safe, affordable, adequate housing

· Economic environment free of monopolies

· Economic security for all who are unable or unwilling to work

Lists like that are normally preceded by the words “Dear Santa.” That’s a huge pile of adjectives and abstractions for her poor staffers to turn into those mundane nuts and bolts that she promises will be worked out later, maybe.

Personally, I’m glad she didn’t wait for a bunch of facts to catch up with her excitement. Counterfactual performance art is what she’s good at, and is the basis of her considerable charm. Like the lovable Baghdad Bob, she stands superior to facts.

But I do have one complaint. Lay off Eisenhower and the interstate highway system.

From her resolution:
“Americans love a challenge. This is our moonshot. When JFK said we’d go to the by the end of the decade, people said impossible. If Eisenhower wanted to build the interstate highway system today, people would ask how we’d pay for it.”

AOC has said that before, but contrary to what she says, the old White men who wrote the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act of 1956 did, in fact, decide how to pay for it before they passed the bill. They did not just wish a national highway system into existence. Far from it. They assumed leprechauns would bring pots of gold to Capitol Hill, and that all the cars and trucks using the highways would be powered by unicorns.

Just kidding – they paid for it with new taxes. The bill authorized $25 billion from 1957 through 1969 to be raised by Federal excise taxes on fuel, automobiles, trucks, and tires. That new tax revenue went into a Highway Trust Fund that paid for 90 percent of construction costs, with the states required to pay the remaining 10 percent.

Hasn’t AOC ever wondered why she pays an 18.4 cents per gallon tax on gasoline at the pump? But, maybe she doesn’t drive.

By the way, that gas tax was only 3 cents per gallon when the highways were built. After Eisenhower, government got greedy for all that money, and now we pay a lot more. You can read about Federal and state fuel tax facts here.

Moreover, exactly how we would pay for the interstate highway system was explained right there in the full title of the law:
An act to amend and supplement the Federal-Aid Road Act approved July 11, 1916, to authorize appropriations for continuing the construction of highways; to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 to provide additional revenue from the taxes on motor fuel, tires and trucks and buses; and for other purposes; June 29, 1956.

Read about it here: National Interstate and Defense Highways Act (1956).

The legislative history of the Act shows that, of course, the main concern of Congress was about how we’d pay for it.
Between 1954 and 1956, there were several failed attempts to pass a national highway bill through the Congress. The main controversy over the highway construction was the apportionment of the funding between the Federal Government and the states. Undaunted, the President renewed his call for a "modern, interstate highway system” in his 1956 State of the Union Address. Within a few months, after considerable debate and amendment in the Congress, The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 emerged from the House-Senate conference committee. In the act, the interstate system was expanded to 41,000 miles, and to construct the network, $25 billion was authorized for fiscal years 1957 through 1969.

Back in that day, our legislators were serious. In our day, not so much.


Anonymous said...

TSB: The "Green Dream" is quite a chuckler alright. Remember last week OAC was saying that none of her staff in NY were able to get computers because of the shutdown which may have limited website work a bit. I think the whole thing needs to be put out as a music video. gwb

Anonymous said...

TSB: The government has been open for 30 days. The one thing that stands out is that President Trump delivered the SOTU (which he would have done anyway) and hit it out of the park. There was no rebuttal, just a so called rebuttal. I listened to it. Some ramblings about election fraud??

Committee to get the government back open has come up with nothing as far as I can tell. In fact, it looks to me like they have just made the situation worse. Besides Richard Shelby and Dick Durban I couldn't tell you who they are or what they stand for because all talks are held in secret. The R's want money for detention facilities and applicants held outside the border. The D's won't give money for that and want "catch and release". So both sides seem intent on another shutdown.

There is ONE issue that there is at least 90% agreement on and that is the overthrow of Venezuela's democratically elected government where they used tamper proof Taiwanese ballot machines and had international election monitor approval. I can't wait to hear that debate. gwb

TSB said...

GWB: That laptop complaint is another example of AOC being superior to facts. Members of Congress have their own offices and budgets; there is no executive branch agency in charge of buying laptops for Congressmen. Anyway, she inherited her DC and local offices, which were already running long before she was elected. "Trump did it" is a humorous excuse.

The bipartisan budget talks in Congress have hit a wall - see what I did there? - because Democrats want a cap on beds for detainees (i.e., they want illegals released instead of held), and won't even make an exception for detainees with records for violent crime. The stage is set for a Trumpian resolution.

Anonymous said...

TSB: Looks like US sanctions on Venezuela are causing some problems in Haiti!
HAITI is on complete lockdown - roadblocks, shootings, looting. Demands 4 president Moise to leave. Banks/roads closed. No food/diesel. US Embassy evacuated & there is NO WORD ABOUT THIS IN THE US press.
… #Haiti
In 2017 $4 billion in social development funds went missing and now the President has caved in to US demands to stop buying Venezuelan oil products. Haitians are asking Putin to come to the rescue. I'm predicting Special Forces Rescue for him and maybe send OAC down there with some helicopter money, a tanker full of diesel and divert that humanitarian aid that's blocked in Colombia. gwb (wonder how Macron is doing with the Yellow Vests?

Anonymous said...

TSB: Venezuela kicks out ‘interventionist’ team of European MPs coming to meet with Guaido Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said that the parliamentarians had been warned they would not be let into the country "several days ago" through "official diplomatic channels."

If I were Arreaza I would detain them and go thru a whole deportation process, give them legal counsel etc. Would be great demonstration to get the story on world wide media. They could also demand compensation for seizure of assets. I would love to see that on CNN. gwb

Anonymous said...

TSB: Did you hear? Bernie is running for President! Apparently he's campaigning this time as "Captain Obvious" because he announced it yesterday in Vermont and did an interview with Bob Kinzel of VPR. (No, never heard of him either.)
Well, this time the focus of the campaign will be "fury against Trump!" I think the current occupant of the White House is an embarrassment to our country," Sanders said. "I think he is a pathological liar... I also think he is a racist, a sexist, a homophobe, a xenophobe, somebody who is gaining cheap political points by trying to pick on minorities, often undocumented immigrants." So there you have it! As soon as people find out about this Bernie should rocket to the top of the leaderboard ahead of Tiger Woods. gwb

Anonymous said...

TSB: As someone knowledgeable about Chicago and architecture I wonder if you agree with me that this Obama $500 million library plunked in a city park is one ugly situation very appropriate to the Obama legacy? gwb

TSB said...

GWB: That 12-story museum is one very large and strange-looking place. I hope the lawsuit stops the project. If Obama can't make it work on private land, then he should leave the city's taxpayers alone and not do it at all.