Green New Deal a Product of Ideological Recycling

By Goldberg, Jonah | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 13, 2019 | Go to article overview

Green New Deal a Product of Ideological Recycling


Goldberg, Jonah, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


It's fitting that the Green New Deal pushed by many but popularized by Democratic phenom Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, who had her "60 Minutes" debut last week, is a triumph of recycling.

Not of plastic bags or soda cans, but of ideas. Specifically, Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal and the impulses behind it.

To her credit, Ocasio-Cortez is fairly honest about her ideological recycling.

"None of these things are new ideas," she explained on the campaign trail last October. "What we had was an existential threat in the context of a war. We had a direct existential threat with another nation; this time it was Nazi Germany and the Axis, who explicitly made the United States as an enemy.

"We chose to mobilize our entire economy and industrialized our entire economy, and we put hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people to work in defending our shores and defending this country. We have to do the same thing in order to get us to 100 percent renewable energy, and that's just the truth of it."

Alas, AOC, as many now call her, started the story in the middle. The need to prepare for war marked the end of the New Deal. As FDR put it, it was time for "Dr. New Deal" to be replaced by "Dr. Win the War."

Ironically, the New Deal itself was largely about war mobilization -- without war. Roosevelt campaigned for president promising to adapt Woodrow Wilson's wartime industrial policies to fight the Great Depression.

Even before Roosevelt was elected, his aides investigated whether they could use the Trading with the Enemy Act for a gold embargo. In his inaugural address, FDR proclaimed, "I assume unhesitatingly the leadership of this great army of our people dedicated to the disciplined attack upon our common problems."

Nearly the entire structure of the New Deal was copied from Wilson's "war socialism." The National Recovery Administration (NRA) was modeled on the War Industries Board. …

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