With over two dozen Democratic presidential candidates promising voters a surfeit of free stuff; college, health care, reparations, etc., one candidate is trying to break away from the pack by not just offering free stuff but also proposing an expensive and invasive government program that makes the New Deal look cost-effective. The candidate is Washington state governor Jay Inslee (don’t worry, I’ve never heard of him either.)
Governor Inslee’s Evergreen Economy Plan is essentially a more thorough and detailed version of the Green New Deal. While one can appreciate the candidate has actually provided implementation particulars for his strategy to achieve environmental nirvana, the specifics are not revolutionary ideas but rather hackneyed statist philosophies. The plan literally reads like an excerpt from the ‘looters’ in Atlas Shrugged. Written in the usual government jargon, the deal is packed full of recycled progressive bromides that promise utopia… for the bargain price of $9 trillion dollars and the loss free market autonomy.
In short, the massive spending program seeks to green all buildings, homes, appliances, manufacturing facilities, cars, infrastructure, etc. Inslee guarantees that 8 million new jobs will be created by putting “millions of Americans to work cutting pollution and energy bills for households and businesses through energy efficiency and electrification upgrades in millions of existing residential and commercial buildings throughout the country.” These upgrades will be financed through loans offered by CEDA (Clean Energy Deployment Authority) to various electric companies throughout the country. CEDA, also referred to as the ‘green bank’ in the plan, will allocate $90 billion in ‘initial’ federal investment (so $90 billion is just a starting figure) that will “provide low-cost investment for projects in market segments where the private sector is underinvesting. This financing will be deployed as low-cost loans and loan guarantees that will earn a return for CEDA, allowing it to cost-effectively support clean energy transformation on an ongoing basis.” Imagine thousands of mini Solyndra’s spanning across the country… great plan. Pro-tip, when the private sector is NOT investing, it usually means there is no money to be made.
The overly ambitious proposal claims that it will save all Americans money on their energy consumption in the future, the particulars prove otherwise. One citation reads, “Establishing a reserve fund for inclusive financing through utility on-bill investments in cost-effective energy efficiency upgrades for all customers, regardless of income, credit score, or renter status.” Utility on-bill investments means an added tax onto your current utility bill which will be used to finance the loans provided by CEDA. ‘Inclusive’ financing means loans will be offered regardless of whether the borrower has the means to pay back the loan or not.
However, the proposal does intend to cut costs for some consumers through welfare programs. “Expanding and updating the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to streamline eligibility verification across federal and state programs and also to allow low-income consumers the option to pay energy bills that include efficiency, solar energy, and beneficial electrification.” Meaning, after all of our energy bills rise thanks to the “on-bill investment,” taxpayers will also pay more to offset the higher cost of energy for the poor.
Further aspects of the Evergreen Economy Plan reek of the authoritarian intervention practiced during 20th century communism. “Giving the USDA a leading role in driving both innovation in: enhancing ecosystem services; and developing and deploying innovative business models that put these systems to work to create new revenue streams to support the livelihood of farming communities.” Translation: bureaucrats working in posh, air-conditioned buildings in Washington D.C. are going to tell farmers in the Midwest how to do their jobs. This type of rhetoric and governmental oversight has usually ended very badly. When Stalin and Mao controlled the Soviet Union and China, both leaders employed government agricultural ‘experts’ to improve farming techniques. These experts believed that they could create hybrid fruit trees, grow oranges in Siberia, and instructed peasants to plough furrows five feet deep and plant seeds very close together. These techniques were supposed to increase crop yields ten-fold. Instead they caused widespread famine and starved millions. Just imagine when President AOC mandates farmers plant yuca in upstate New York.
Governor Inslee’s environmental agenda is not confined within US borders; he hopes to convince other countries to accede to his climate demands by threatening to cut off trade.“Ensuring that America’s trading policies support, and do not undermine, the global transition toward clean energy, endeavor to close the carbon loophole, and promote continuous climate pollution reductions across nations. This could include potential enforcement of trade policies against certain imports from nations that are not committed to reciprocal restraints on their climate pollution.”
While this may potentially make American trips to Walmart more expensive, this does have an upside. It will finally force progressives to confront the real polluters of the world like China and India rather than pretending the United States is the sole climate change criminal.
There isn’t an aspect of human life the Evergreen Economy Plan doesn’t seek to control: pensions, minimum wage, education, trade, public transport, public housing, and of course, social justice. The only thing the plan is missing is how we will create the magical trees that will grow all the money needed to pay for it.