Bernie Sanders Unveils $16 Trillion ‘Green New Deal’ Plan

Senator Bernie Sanders’s “Green New Deal” climate policy plan calls for the United States to eliminate fossil fuel use by 2050.

Credit: Dustin Chambers for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Senator Bernie Sanders on Thursday will release a $16.3 trillion blueprint to fight climate change, the latest and most expensive proposal from the field of Democratic presidential candidates aimed at reining in planet-warming greenhouse gases.

Mr. Sanders’s proposal comes one day after Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington, who made climate change the central focus of his campaign, announced he was dropping out of the 2020 race. Mr. Inslee’s absence could create an opening for another presidential aspirant to seize the mantle of “climate candidate.”

Mr. Sanders was an early supporter of the Green New Deal, an ambitious but nonbinding congressional plan for tackling global warming and economic inequality. He is bestowing that same name upon his new plan, which calls for the United States to eliminate fossil fuel use by 2050.

It declares climate change a national emergency; envisions building new solar, wind and geothermal power sources across the country; and commits $200 billion to help poor nations cope with climate change.

Mr. Sanders said in an interview Wednesday night that his proposal would “pay for itself” over 15 years and create 20 million jobs in the process.

There is no broadly agreed-upon figure of how much needs to be spent to decarbonize the United States economy, but one study estimated that as much as $4.5 trillion could be needed just to modernize the nation’s power grid.

Still, the Sanders plan’s eye-popping price tag is several times bigger than those of his leading opponents. Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has called for spending $1.7 trillion over 10 years. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has a $2 trillion green manufacturing plan. Other candidates, including former Representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas, have also put forth ambitious proposals. MORE

 

Who owns it? The democratic socialist debate Canada should be having this election

We live in an era of extreme inequality of wealth and power across much of the developed world, and Canada is no exception. Public confidence in political institutions and “political classes” in the West is in long-running decline. The failure of established institutions to grapple adequately with the crises we face is giving way to an environment of growing instability and unease, providing fertile ground for the rise of the far right and delivering the likes of Donald Trump and Boris Johnson into the highest offices.

Yet there is also reason for optimism. The left, too, is in many places also reinvigorated—and quite suddenly bursting with big, bold new policy agendas. This includes, perhaps most visibly, a push for a Green New Deal, crucial in the face of the ticking clock of the climate crisis. But another set of developing policy proposals, relating to the ownership and control of our economy, also deserve our attention.

In the UK and US, transformative policy ideas for economic justice are emerging and starting to move quietly into the political mainstream. These include policies to promote worker ownership and control of companies, breaking up large monopolistic corporations, and an annual wealth tax on the super-rich.

These ideas are being advanced not only by activists and think-tanks, but now also by major political parties and candidates, including the UK’s Labour Party and US Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

These policies are not exclusive to any single ideology, but they could reasonably be called “socialist,” since they centre matters of who owns and controls core economic institutions and wealth. And they could be described as “democratic” because they take a bottom-up approach that would reshape and significantly equalize economic ownership and control. These policies are also, in many cases, extremely popular among voters across the political spectrum.

In short, the policy debate is rapidly being populated with innovative and far-reaching economic proposals of a kind that we should be considering much more seriously in Canada. To that end, let’s take a look at a selection of big policy ideas now on the table south of the border and across the Atlantic, which represent potential starting points for important debates here at home.

[Read the complete article! The headings below are flushed out in the complete article to give you a taste of actions that could lead to a sustainable future.]

  • Putting power and ownership in workers’ hands
  • Inclusive ownership funds
  • Worker representation on corporate boards
  • “Right to own” and worker-owned enterprises
  • Taking on big banks and powerful tech monopolies
  • Financial transactions tax
  • Publicly owned banks
  • Breaking up powerful tech monopolies
  • Getting serious about taxing the rich and corporations
  • Wealth taxes on the super-rich
  • Ending special tax breaks on capital income
  • Taxing corporations like we mean it

Canada needs to think big. Let the debate begin.

This round-up of burgeoning economic policy ideas is far from comprehensive, and these particular proposals are not the final word. What they do represent is a window on an impressive proliferation of bold, left-wing economic thinking that should inform our discourse and debate in Canada. This debate should include other emerging big ideas like a Green New Deal, four-day work week, universal basic income, universal basic services, land value capture and maximum wages, among many others. SOURCE

Democrats’ newest climate platform: Hammering fossil fuel companies

The rhetoric from candidates like Sanders, Warren and even Biden echoes the fervor of the climate change activists backing the Green New Deal.

Jay Inslee
Democratic presidential candidates like Washington Gov. Jay Inslee have been increasingly assertive in their rhetoric over climate change. | Paul Sancya/AP Photo

Democratic White House hopefuls are getting increasingly aggressive on climate change — and calling for oil, gas and coal producers to pay for their role in climbing temperatures, rising seas and catastrophic weather.

The sharpened tone includes former Vice President Joe Biden’s promise to “take action against fossil fuel companies,” as well as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ charge that the businesses committed “criminal activity” by knowingly producing the greenhouse gases that worsen climate change. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren proposes legislation that could pave the way for lawsuits against the companies, while Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has accused fossil fuel producers of “killing people” and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand wants to create a fossil fuel “excise tax.”

The rhetoric echoes the fervor of climate change activists who have pushed Democrats to embrace an ambitious “Green New Deal” that would wean the U.S. off fossil fuels in a decade or more, and comes amid lawsuits from states, cities and citizens accusing the companies of hiding evidence that their products are harming the planet.

But Republicans say they welcome the trend, too, accusing Democrats of pushing a radical attack on an industry that has provided one of the brightest spots in the economy and has reduced U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

“The deeper and the longer the Democrats talk about this, the happier the Trump campaign is,” said Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist who speaks regularly with the White House and President Donald Trump’s reelection effort. “They see fodder not so much in the issue but in the solutions being proposed by the Democrats.” MORE

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Elizabeth Warren: Here’s how we can break up Big Tech

big tech
Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook face a new and sweeping review of their activities by the US Department of Justice (DOJ).

Twenty-five years ago, Facebook, Google, and Amazon didn’t exist. Now they are among the most valuable and well-known companies in the world. It’s a great story — but also one that highlights why the government must break up monopolies and promote competitive markets.

Today’s big tech companies have too much power — too much power over our economy, our society, and our democracy. They’ve bulldozed competition, used our private information for profit, and tilted the playing field against everyone else. And in the process, they have hurt small businesses and stifled innovation.

…we need to stop this generation of big tech companies from throwing around their political power to shape the rules in their favor and throwing around their economic power to snuff out or buy up every potential competitor.

America’s big tech companies provide valuable products but also wield enormous power over our digital lives. Nearly half of all e-commerce goes through Amazon. More than 70% of all Internet traffic goes through sites owned or operated by Google or Facebook.

Elizabeth Warren puts a giant tech breakup billboard in San Francisco’s face Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

As these companies have grown larger and more powerful, they have used their resources and control over the way we use the Internet to squash small businesses and innovation, and substitute their own financial interests for the broader interests of the American people. To restore the balance of power in our democracy, to promote competition, and to ensure that the next generation of technology innovation is as vibrant as the last, it’s time to break up our biggest tech companies.

Using Proprietary Marketplaces to Limit Competition.

Many big tech companies own a marketplace — where buyers and sellers transact — while also participating on the marketplace. This can create a conflict of interest that undermines competition. Amazon crushes small companies by copying the goods they sell on the Amazon Marketplace and then selling its own branded version. Google allegedly snuffed out a competing small search engine by demoting its content on its search algorithm, and it has favored its own restaurant ratings over those of Yelp.

My administration would restore competition to the tech sector by taking two major steps:

First, by passing legislation that requires large tech platforms to be designated as “Platform Utilities” and broken apart from any participant on that platform.

Second, my administration would appoint regulators committed to reversing illegal and anti-competitive tech mergers. MORE

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Big Tech’s US antitrust nightmare just got a whole lot worse

 

How a wealth tax could help Canadians


Jagmeet Singh reaches out to delegates as he leaves an NDP convention stage with Gurkiran Kaur on Feb. 17, 2018 in Ottawa. File photo by Alex Tétreault

Canada’s NDP has proposed a one per cent tax on wealth over $20 million as part of its election platform. The party doesn’t include much detail yet but estimates it could generate several billion dollars a year.

Pundits have been quick to pounce on a wealth tax as too extreme, difficult or costly. A National Post column last month asked: “What is the problem to which creating a wealth tax is a solution?”

Growing inequality is the problem.

The richest families in Canada are now more than 4,400 times wealthier than the average family, according to a study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).

This widening gap has gone hand-in-hand with declining social and economic mobility. The CCPA found that family dynasties are more likely to keep their money in the family than they were two decades ago thanks to light taxes and loopholes that primarily benefit the wealthy, while Statistics Canada recently reported that family income mobility has declined since the 1980s.

The idea of a wealth tax sparked more interest earlier this year after Democratic leadership contender and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren proposed a two per cent tax on those with more than US$50 million in assets, with the rate rising to three per cent for fortunes over US$1 billion.

“The Ultra-Millionaire Tax” would target all assets, from closely held businesses to residences outside the country. Warren estimates it would bring in US$2.7 trillion over a decade ⁠— revenue she would use to reverse staggering inequality in the country through measures such as universal child care and free tuition at public colleges.

Rising disparity is a global problem, and it’s not just progressive politicians who are pointing out the need for increased taxes on wealth.

Both the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) — hardly left-wing organizations — have highlighted growing inequality of wealth as a problem and suggested that countries increase taxes on wealth and capital.

Some argue that wealth taxes would lead to a mass exodus of wealthy entrepreneurs, hurting Canadian investment. Yet, an OECD study found that wealth taxes led to little in the way of real declines in investment and aren’t necessarily bad for the economy. MORE

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Canadian dynasties richer than ever as wealth gap continues to widen: study

Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez pressure Congress to declare climate change a national emergency

(CNN)Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont teamed up with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Oregon’s Rep. Earl Blumenauer on Tuesday to unveil a new resolution that would declare climate change a national emergency.

“There is a climate emergency which demands a massive-scale mobilization to halt, reverse, and address its consequences and causes,” the bill’s authors wrote. While it does not call for specific action, the legislation states in sharp terms that climate change is a human-made problem that threatens the fortunes of millions of Americans and demands immediate political action.”
The largely symbolic legislation has little chance of making any headway in the Republican-held Senate, but it provides Sanders — who has proposed radical steps to effectively wipe out the fossil fuel industry — with a tangible example of his efforts to take on major problems of particular concern to young voters.
While the Senate resolution originates out of Sanders’ Capitol Hill office, it has obvious implications in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary. The Vermont independent has found himself lagging behind former Vice President Joe Biden, while Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a progressive ally who recently rolled out a preview of her vision for the Green New Deal, is surging. Sen. Kamala Harris of California, too, is enjoying a post-debate bump. Sanders and his team have projected confidence despite the bouncing poll numbers, plowing ahead with policy rollouts and proposals designed to highlight his progressive credentials and priorities. MORE
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Sorry, Critics Tell Warren, Greening US Empire’s “Powerful War Machine” No Answer to Climate Crisis

“…trying to “green” the Pentagon without addressing the destructive impacts of its bloated budget and American imperialism is a misguided way to combat the emergency of global warming.”

“Fighting the climate crisis is not about enabling the largest and most powerful military in human history to be more efficient in its destructive missions.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Wednesday unveiled a climate plan for the U.S. military that was quickly criticized by progressives. (Photo: Elizabeth Warren/Facebook)

Anti-war critics are responding to Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s new climate “resiliency and readiness” proposal to reform the U.S. military with warnings that trying to “green” the Pentagon without addressing the destructive impacts of its bloated budget and American imperialism is a misguided way to combat the emergency of global warming.

The most powerful war machine on the planet is never going to be ‘green.'” —Naomi Klein, author and activist

Warren is an original co-sponsor of the Green New Deal resolution that was introduced in February, just two days before the Massachusetts Democrat officially kicked off her 2020 presidential campaign.

Like several other proposals since then, Warren unveiled the Defense Climate Resiliency and Readiness Act in a Medium post Wednesday. But unlike many of her other proposals—from breaking up big tech and wiping out student debt to establishing universal childcare—this latest one was met with deep concern, not praise, from progressives.


Naomi Klein @NaomiAKlein

<@ewarren is running a great campaign but when it comes to climate breakdown, this is *not* a plan for that. The most powerful war machine on the planet is never going to be “green.” The outrageous military budget needs to be slashed to help pay for a Global Green New Deal. https://t.co/LWQO74g2pP

— Naomi Klein (@NaomiAKlein) May 15, 2019


Klein’s comments were echoed by other critics of Warren’s proposal, who instead called for curbing the Pentagon’s massive carbon footprint “through shrinking the military and ending empire.” Some pointed out that, by contrast, another 2020 candidate and backer of the Green New Deal, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), aims to “meaningfully [confront] imperialism.” MORE

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POLL: Over two-thirds of Canadians back a wealth tax

Rising inequality is often ignored by neoliberal politicians focusing on profit and growth while social concerns are often not on the political radar.

Support is steady across demographic, regional and even party lines

Image result for ricochet POLL: Over two-thirds of Canadians back a wealth tax

A new poll conducted by Abacus Data on behalf of advocacy group North 99, and provided exclusively to Ricochet Media, shows that the newfound appetite for a wealth tax in the United States has spread north of the border.

A wealth tax, championed by U.S. politicians like Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, would levy an additional tax on the assets of the super rich. Unlike policies such as a new top marginal tax rate that have also been floated by Ocasio-Cortez and others, a wealth tax would apply not only to income but to all assets.

67 per cent of all Canadians support or somewhat support a wealth tax

The poll of 2,000 Canadians was weighted to reflect census data and tested the proposal of a two per cent wealth tax on individuals with assets over $50 million, payable annually.

It found a staggering 67 per cent of all Canadians support or somewhat support the proposal. Only 14 per cent were opposed or somewhat opposed, while 17 per cent were unsure or felt they didn’t have enough information to respond.

“There is a real appetite, a real demand among voters across the political spectrum for bold, progressive policies”

What we see here,” explained Taylor Scollon, co-director of North 99, “is that policies that politicians are not necessarily talking about, that we don’t hear a lot about, to address rising inequality and lack of opportunity for workers, for the middle class, are quite popular. But they are just not present in the discourse right now.

These ideas are being talked about a lot more in the U.S., Elizabeth Warren has put out a similar proposal, but these are policies that Canadians support too.” MORE

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Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren: My plan for public lands

Elizabeth Warren has just promised to end Arctic drilling if elected!This is really good news for the climate. If elected her environmental leadership will set a new standard for politicians globally. We need to demand that our MPs show leadership to achieve the UN’s International Panel on Climate Change’s targets

Bruce and I love to hike. We’ve been all over, from Bryce Canyon in Utah to Alaska to the Cape Cod National Seashore in our backyard. America’s public lands are one of our greatest treasures. They provide us with clean air and water, sustain our fish and wildlife, and offer a place where millions of Americans go every year to experience the beauty of our natural environment. At 25% of America’s total land, they are also an irreplaceable resource.

But today, those lands are under threat. The Trump administration is busy selling off our public lands to the oil, gas and coal industries for pennies on the dollar — expanding fossil fuel extraction that destroys pristine sites across the country while pouring an accelerant on our climate crisis.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We must not allow corporations to pillage our public lands and leave taxpayers to clean up the mess. All of us — local communities and tribes, hunters and anglers, ranchers and weekend backpackers — must work together to manage and protect our shared heritage. That’s why today I’m rolling out my plan to protect our public lands and preserve wild, natural places for future generations.

Making our public lands part of the climate solution — not the problem.

It is wrong to prioritize corporate profits over the health and safety of our local communities. That’s why on my first day as president, I will sign an executive order that says no more drilling — a total moratorium on all new fossil fuel leases, including for drilling offshore and on public lands. I’d also reinstate the methane pollution rule to limit existing oil and gas projects from releasing harmful gases that poison our air, and reinstitute the clean water rule to protect our lakes, rivers, and streams, and the drinking water they provide.