Joe Biden’s presidential campaign is set to unveil a $2 trillion “climate agenda” inspired, at least in part, by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-NY) Green New Deal, and designed to recast environmental policy as a domestic economic development tool, per The Wall Street Journal.
Biden’s campaign debuted segments of its comprehensive policy agenda last week as part of a declaration of “unity” between Biden’s operation and supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who have been skeptical of backing a “moderate” Democratic candidate for president. That policy agenda, though, while heavy on elements like education, was light on environmental policy – a surprise, given that Rep. Ocasio-Cortez was placed at the helm of Biden’s environmental task force.
On Tuesday, though, Biden’s campaign announced the $2 trillion additional “investment plan,” “a more ambitious investment and accelerated timeline compared with the $1.7 trillion over a decade he had proposed last summer,” per the WSJ.
The plan, the outlet adds, “would attempt to eliminate carbon emissions from the power grid by 2035, put Americans into electric vehicles and zero-emission mass transit, and rebuild roads, bridges, and other infrastructure. The plan would devote spending to minority communities and bolster rules to support unions, which the Biden campaign frames as a way to ensure benefits go first to the poor and working-class people and to communities hurt the most by pollution.”
That outline bears a striking resemblance to the more public aspects of Ocasio-Cortez’s massive Green New Deal program, which also stressed infrastructure investment, eliminating carbon-powered domestic travel, and moving to an all-alternate energy power grid, albeit on a different timeline and with the addition of several massive government welfare programs.
Biden’s plan does depart from the GND in key ways: there is no element of Biden’s plan calling for the elimination of either nuclear energy or natural gas fracking, and the plan does seem to recognize that moving from a carbon-powered grid would be difficult, particularly given that, in 2019, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, around “63% of [utility-scale] electricity generation was from fossil fuels—coal, natural gas, petroleum, and other gases.”
The infrastructure spending plan is also close in nature to President Donald Trump’s, which, when first presented in 2018, called for $200 billion in federal spending. President Trump’s plan added an additional $1.5 trillion in spending from the private sector, however, per Business Insider, through equity investment and “private partnerships.”
Biden’s campaign says his plan would be paid “with a mix of tax increases on corporations and the wealthy and stimulus spending, likely related to the coronavirus pandemic. A campaign aide said if Mr. Biden is elected president he would work with Congress to expand stimulus spending that wouldn’t need to be offset by spending cuts.”
Biden has already proposed a tax increase on America’s highest wage earners, from 37% to 39.5%.