Free Minds & Free Markets

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Green New Deal: A Bizarre Grab-Bag of Terrible Ideas

Q&A with economist Veronique de Rugy.

Last week, New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Democratic Senator Edward Markey introduced the Green New Deal, a non-binding resolution that would radically overhaul America's economy in the name of fighting global climate change. The resolution bundled together a variety of big-ticket progressive policy priorities, not all of which were obviously related to climate change, from universal health coverage to a jobs guarantee to subsidized college.

The proposal was swiftly praised by much of the 2020 Democratic presidential field—yet even some liberals wondered if it was trying to do too much at once. In attempting to be all things to everyone, would the Green New Deal end up being nothing to anyone?

Veronique de Rugy, a Reason columnist and a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, joins us to explain what the Green New Deal means, why it would be so expensive, and why even socialist countries in Europe don't try to do this much.

Interview by Peter Suderman. Edited by Meredith Bragg, Todd Krainin, and Mark McDaniel. Cameras by Bragg and Krainin.

FRACTURES by Ryan Little.

Photo Credits:



Estelle Ruiz/ZUMA Press/Newscom

Alex Edelman/SIPA/Newscom

Photo Credit: Alex Edelman/SIPA/Newscom

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Libertymike||

    Still with the surfeit of lipstick. Ugh.

  • a ab abc abcd abcde abcdef ahf||

    Careful, your gravitas is showing.

  • Libertymike||

    Thank you, its nice to be thought of as having some.

  • Idle Hands||

    that every democrat currently running for president cosigned.

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    We Koch / Reason libertarians must remember the most important part of AOC's platform — she wants to #AbolishICE just like we do. Until the progressive / libertarian open borders alliance succeeds in defeating the alt-right white nationalists, it's counterproductive for us to focus on our minor differences on economic policy.


  • Libertymike||


  • Dillinger||


    breadth of that is fun.

  • Earth Skeptic||

    In a retarded sort of way.

  • Dillinger||

    if that's where your imagination goes ...

  • tlapp||

    #LibertariansForAOC is a party of one, a clueless troll. Are you enjoying your mental masturbation?

  • David Emami||

    I'm 50/50 on whether OBL is a parody. Poe's Law is definitely in effect.

  • The Knuckle||

    I fell for OBL's sarc the first time I read it a while back.

  • arcaneknowledge||

    I have thought about this for some time now and I just don't understand how open borders would work? please explain.

  • Freddy the Jerk||

    It's really simple! We let in anyone who wants to come, then subsidize their food and housing, along with their kids' education (through college natch) and turn a blind eye while they commit identity theft and take up all the low-skill jobs so that our teenagers never have to learn what it means to put in a day's hard labor.

    In return they promise to block-vote Democrat in-perpetuity.

  • plusafdotcom||

    Freddy, you are NOT a Jerk!

    The open borders movement, whether 'supported' by Koch & Co or "libertarians" is, yes, a failure of Critical Thinking.

    It completely ignores any downsides or risks of such a policy, as you listed so well. It ignores Ceteras Paribus, which is the implicit assumption that, were these programs enacted, NOTHING ELSE WOULD CHANGE, and that is patently ridiculous.

    Third on my list of concerns is that the entire idea smacks of Cloward-Piven, which is a subversive policy designed to bring governments down by overwhelming their infrastructures and resources with huge demands on those resources which are impossible to meet or deliver.

    I'm more wondering who's really behind such stupid proposals, with focus on Socialists, "Democratic Socialists," Soros and any country that would like to drain us dry so THEY could "run everything."

    I'm not a conspiracy theorist.... I just look at evidence and notice connections. I wish more people did... :(

  • DajjaI||

    The main threat to kids today isn't climate change, but the $22 trillion debt. This GND is just a way to distract from that and call the bluff of the Republicans who enabled the ballooning deficits. No one has any credibility. National debt has become a myth so everything is now free. And yes, these people literally think that national debt is irrelevant and they never have to pay it back. Another problem is that we've solved all the problems and so kids have nothing to look forward to. So they have to create new problems, e.g. national debt and school shootings..

  • creech||

    Why pay it back? Humans will be dead in 12 years due to global warming.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    Indeed; time to eat, drink, and be merry, for [virtually] tomorrow we die [fools that we are].

  • Libertymike||

    The national debt doomers have been prophesizing dollar doomsday for decades and these children that financial eschatologists spit on as they try to change their world are immune to the consultations of the Club of Rome.

  • Lurker Jack||


  • Libertymike||

    You know, everybody here is probably immune to every other poster's consultations.

  • Dillinger||

    you seem quite aware of what we're going through.

  • blondrealist||

    Well played.

  • ||

    You know, everybody here is probably immune to every other poster's consultations.

    Herd immunity achieved!

  • CatoTheChipper||

    $22 Trillion in debt is chump change compared to the debt necessary to implement the Green New Deal.

    AOC and advisors say the debt is nothing to worry about unless we see inflation.

  • Renegade98||

    The Republican Party has sentenced their children to early deaths as a result of this massive tax cut and Climate Change denial.. They are the killers of the young.

  • Greg F||

    The Republican Party has sentenced their children to early deaths as a result of this massive tax cut and Climate Change denial..


  • Mongo||

    Suderman walks into a bar with Stormy Danielss and sez: "Whiskey for me and water for my Horseface."

    The bartender AÖC laffs: "Maldito payaso!"

    *sound of chickens clucking*

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    You are goading Crusty, aren't you?

  • plusafdotcom||

  • BlueStarDragon||

    What really show what fools the new green deal supporters are is in trying to ban flight. Over long distances flying uses less energy than ground travel, most of the energy is wasted in take off.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    You won't be able to fly, but AÖC will still have her Me262.

    Sorry, wrong brand of socialism.

  • Curtisls701||

    It's got to really sting that Newsom, of all people, killed California's high speed rail to nowhere.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    In all seriousness, this concatenation of Leftie pipe-dreams is so removed from reality, it reminds me of the scare my wife put into me when (due to needing her gals bladder removed) she went off her meds for a while and when she went back on them they put her into paranoid delusions. We got her into a good behavioral ward (Lower Bucks Country Hospital, PA. God forbid you ever need it, but if you did, they're good), but the conspiracy theories she was spinning, and the lack of contact with objective reality were REAL disturbing. If AOC actually believes one tenth of the bullish*t her proposal contains, she desperately needs to have her meds adjusted.

  • Earth Skeptic||

    But maybe there is value in the full(?) revelation of current progressive goals, all in one tidy document, even if just the fright factor.

  • Nuwanda||

    You're supposing the readers of such a document aren't sympathetic to it or like the last two generations of kids, haven't been indoctrinated at public schools to swallow it hook line and sinker.

    You do know that's the situation, right? Cortez is the product of the same education system, the same ideology, that has been in charge of the schools these many years. She's just the tip of the iceberg, the leading edge of the wave.

    She's not nuts; she's perfectly in step. She's the tip of the political spear the public intellectuals have been honing and sharpening since at least the 60s.

  • plusafdotcom||

    Thanks, Nuwanda.. I'm glad Someone Noticed... Spot on!

    Once shielded with that kind of Reality Distortion Field, it's impossible to get rational information through to them.

  • ||

    When things don't go according to plan that's when the talk of 'people aren't doing their fair share' rhetoric will kick in and the 'mobilization' will have to include camps and gulags.

    Ruby Red Cortez is gonna take everyone to Mount Splashmore and pay for it!

    She's an illiberal nutcase.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    When things don't go according to plan that's when the talk of 'people aren't doing their fair share' rhetoric will kick in and the 'mobilization' will have to include camps and gulags.

    The main issue here is the naked power-mongering that the document represents. The Dems were looking to implement this on a somewhat slower timeline when they presumably held all of Congress and the Presidency again, which is why they got so mad about McConnell bringing it up for a vote. They didn't want to do it all at once, AOC's "we're all going to die" rhetoric aside--they want to salami-slice it so people get used to the idea of these onerous, totalitarian bureaucracies dictating what they can eat, how they get from place to place, what jobs they can have, and the racial/gender re-ordering of the country to suppress white people, particularly straight white males, for their past sins.

    Their entire philosophy is a violation of the NAP, and until libertarians wake up and accept that fact, the country is going to continue its slide further into government totalitarianism, or a full-blown civil war. We're already seeing the beginnings of this with left-wing/right-wing street fights. Eventually, someone's going to bring a gun to a knife fight, and that's when it goes down.

  • marshaul||

    Their entire philosophy is a violation of the NAP, and until libertarians wake up and accept that fact

    Libertarians are the _only_ demographic woke to this.

  • plusafdotcom||

    As I realized only a few years go, it's NOT "Follow the Money,"

    It's really "Follow the Money, the Power and the Control Over Others."

    AOC, Soros, Clintons, Obamas and all their ilk.

  • Deconstructed Potato||

    Sorry to about your wife. It's no fun to watch your loved ones become someone else like that, even when you know they're still in there somewhere.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    It was weird. She was still there, recognizably, but she was SURE the nurses were plotting against her. Totally lucid, recognized me and loved me, but surrounded by fever dreams.

    I've seen the other way, too. Seems to me that's worse. What I was dealing with was jarring enough.

    Anyway, my thanks for your kind thoughts.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    Well if you can't see how universal health coverage, jobs guarantees, and subsidized college aren't related to climate change, then I can't even.

    *throws brick through Starbucks window*


  • plusafdotcom||

  • ||

    It's just an aspiration!

    Worry about the specifics later!


    And then we're gonna all live in perfect harmony with the Coca-Cola polar bears.

    *Dingbat from the Bronx said the world, like, was gonna, end in 12 like, um the I-raq. So she graciously gave a 2 years buffer.

  • ||

    Whomever is editing together the videos might want to either forego the porno-music intro entirely or at least tone down the moans on the audio track. I'm as libertarian as the next guy and I think I speak for pretty much all of us when I say that the sexy moan as Pelosi fades from the screen is not OK.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    Well THAT'S a libido killer.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    Reminds of the time when a really nasty patient got pissed and flashed her prolapsed uterus.

    "Not tonight dear. There are times when a man has to regroup himself."

  • Cynical Asshole||

    prolapsed uterus

    Good name for a death/ black metal band.

  • ||

    I should add this is socialism by other means.

  • D-Pizzle||


  • Paul Pettie||

    Does anyone ever ask or tell from where the money is going to come for all this giveaway?

  • Real Books||

    Geez, don't you even know how to use a search engine?

    It's right here:

  • plusafdotcom||

    10 Begin
    20 Download file
    30 Print file
    40 GOTO 30
    50 Repeat until you are 'rich'
    60 End (still end badly...)

  • Architect of Liberty||

    Gotta hand it to the Dims -- they really outdid themselves, and the Pubs are falling over each other trying to out-do the latest condemnation.

    All the outrage misses the point -- doesn't matter if the plan is unaffordable or if it changes the entire psyche of the USA in the next ten years -- most uninformed voters are gravitating real-time towards the "vision" this plan represents.

    You can rationally argue against it 'til the cow farts come home -- doesn't matter -- over fifty percent of the great unwashed are grabbing on to it as the panacea to their lives -- almost like "The Life of Julia", but to a much greater scale.

    This should scare the living shit out of every rational being...

  • CatoTheChipper||

    Consider a back-of-the-envelop look at the high-speed rail part of GND all by itself. Commercial air carriers fly about 30,000 trips per day. Of those, about 300 are between LA and SF, or about 1% of all flights. Reason projects final cost of the LA-SF high-speed rail project would be $100 billion. So, an order-of-magnitude estimate for replacing current air routes with high-speed rail runs $10 TRILLION. Obviously, this is a simplistic approach, so cut it in half if you want. That doesn't change the fact that it is simply impossible to simultaneously build out $5 trillion of high-speed rail infrastructure in ten years while replacing 85% of existing electric power generation capacity plus the additional capacity necessary to handle new electric power demand created by the replacement of hydrocarbon fuels in transportation, residential and industrial applications with renewable solar and wind. The physical resources in terms of construction equipment, concrete, steel, and machinery simply cannot be delivered in ten years regardless of AOC's monetary theory that asserts that, with the triumph of will and determined leadership, government can create the money necessary to fund the project.

  • CatoTheChipper||

    Of course, all this is to be done with net zero CO2. However, it's going to require a lot of concrete to build out a high-speed rail network, and the process emissions associated with portland cement currently account for about 5% of US GHG emissions. It's also going to take a lot of steel, which also has process emissions of GHG. Also, it's going to require a whole lot of construction equipment that necessarily will burn diesel, at least until AOC's technologists discover how to harness unicorns.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    Does AOC think all this can be done in 12 years?

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Does AOC think all this can be done in 12 years?

    The time frame is irrelevant, to her and her supporters--what ultimately matters is communist control over the economy and people's everyday lives.

    This is why people like her have to be treated like the social cancer they are, because they promise the moon without any care as to the costs or consequences. All that matters is that they're in charge.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    I get that.

    But if she thinks the world is going to end in 12 years, yet puts forward a plan that would take more than 12 years. It proves a level of stupidity her supporters can't deny without looking stupid themselves.

    Not that they care.

  • Kevin Smith||

    Rather than cutting the 10 trillion in half we should probably be doubling it. Considering terrain LA-SF is a relatively easy rail line to build, much easier than linking anything on the west coast to the Midwest

  • Architect of Liberty||

    Like I said earlier, you can argue rationally all day long -- and each one of your points has merit -- but it doesn't matter because the ultimate master stroke was the presentation of a vision so bold and outlandish that fifty percent plus one will worship it.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    What's really selling it is the fact that AOC and her counterparts don't give a shit how much it costs, or whether it will even work, and have blatantly admitted as such. Like you said, it's a Santa Claus document that promises everything and implies that anyone who supports it won't have to bear the actual cost or responsibility for seeing it done, and provides those who do support with the righteous delusion that they're "saving the planet."

    "Green Leap Forward" is really a great moniker for it, because that's what it is. Unlike the actual New Deal, which came about as a result of a massive economic depression, they're pimping this during a period of economic prosperity. It's a big reason why they're so butthurt that Cocaine Mitch put this up for a vote now--they wanted to keep it in their back pocket for when the next recession took place, and then demand that it be implemented as a jobs program. It's telling that AOC has framed this against World War 2 and the space race, because those were national efforts that everyone was on board with supporting (indeed, the actual cost/benefit calculus of the space program didn't come into question until after the Moon landings). And as John has pointed out, WW2 was a prog's wet dream--a top-down, command-centered economy that imposed rationing for basic goods, price controls, and jawboned businesses into providing labor for wartime industries.

    So the fact that a commie POS like AOC would promote this is hardly surprising.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    Correct me if I'm wrong. But wasn't the new deal in part a way to sort of payback in a sense the sacrifices everyone made during WW2?

    Not that it justifies the green deal, or the new deal itself.

  • turco||

    New deal came before ww2.
    Lucky (?) for FDR that ww2 happened since the new deal lengthened the depression.

  • markm23||

    Yes, the New Deal (and Hoover's regulations before that) not only stretched a Depression to 12 years that might have lasted three years without interference, but fouled up the economy until the only way to recovery was to force Americans to live even more austerely, remove their sons from the productive part of the economy, and dedicate everything we could possibly produce to being shipped overseas and blown up.

  • ConstitutionFirst||

    Societal Control.

    Progs don't give a Rats Backside about 'We The People'.

  • marshaul||

    This article clearly does not exist. I have been reliably informed that Reason is a crypto-progressive magazine.

  • Heresy Hunter||

    Possibly, but the comment section is still interesting.

  • Rockabilly||

    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's brain is a grab bag of terrible ideas: It's Karl Marx vs The Marx Bros.

  • Heresy Hunter||

    I think she mixes the stuff she learns from the communist manifesto with stephen hawking's assertion that in 100 years the world will erupt in a ball of flame because of climate change.

  • Fmontyr||

    Breezed through the comments and found people on the right are very disturbed by AOC while not realizing what a wild-talking dope they put in the White House, e.g., "Gonna build a wall across the southern border and Mexico gonna pay for it" and 100's of other fantasies such as "Space Force" and "Healthcare better and cheaper than Obamacare", etc., the knuckleheads on the right bought into and elected a jerk for president.

  • Sevo||

    "Breezed through the comments and found people on the right are very disturbed by AOC while not realizing what a wild-talking dope they put in the White House, e.g., "Gonna build a wall across the southern border and Mexico gonna pay for it" and 100's of other fantasies such as "Space Force" and "Healthcare better and cheaper than Obamacare", etc., the knuckleheads on the right bought into and elected a jerk for president."

    Noticed your comment and found lefties are as dumb as rocks.

  • Heresy Hunter||

    You're just on the wrong article's comment section.

  • ConstitutionFirst||

    I promise everybody, everything for free! Vote for me!

    Something is very wrong at Boston college if the saw fit to give this dope a degree in anything.

    The only bigger idiots than the staff at BC, are the idiots that voted for her.

  • spanky & alfalfa||

    not sure why reason would even take this seriously

  • Jerry B.||

    One thing left out of the GND is that China produces twice the carbon emissions of the U.S., and historically doubles it's emissions every decade. India, at current rates of increase, should pass the U.S. in another 10 years, and also doubles emissions every decade.

    One wonders how AOC is going to talk these countries into going carbon free by 2030.

  • Salero21||

    I call her AOC=Always Obnoxious Cucaracha. She's Green alright, yes she's GREEN with ENVY of anyone and everyone who has more than her, even if is only one dollar more. As Sir Winston Churchill said: "Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery."

  • Naaman Brown||

    Make promises you can't keep, then blame the other party: that's how Congress works.

    The Green New Deal exposed (editorial cartoon) Kirk Walters, Toldedo Blade, 12 Feb 2012.

  • DjDiverDan||

    Face facts. The Global Warming Scare is nothing but a dressed up version of the big bad monster that toddlers imagine living beneath their beds.

  • HillTown Trader||

    The Resolution was an amazing read, full of fantasy, and "problems" where the "solutions" were entirely disjointed.

    My favorite part was about half way down page two, where Climate Change was blamed for 20 years of stagnant wages and low productivity gains. Really? Why not just blame male pattern baldness and cows going dry on CC as well.

    Did any of the folks who sign on to this actually read It?


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