Inslee earlier outlined his aim to decarbonize some parts of the U.S. economy by the 2030s, and he has endorsed some aspects of the Green New Deal. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Green New Deal’s champion, told a reporter yesterday that Inslee’s plan is the “golden standard.” (Inslee’s plan is also untainted by plagiarism accusations.)
If anyone comes close to Inslee-level detail, it’s Warren, who also announced an ambitious climate policy yesterday. Like her other climate plans, which have targeted the Pentagon and public-land management, this one seems, at first, to focus on another issue.
Warren calls this issue “economic patriotism.” Under its banner, the senator from Massachusetts and presidential candidate proposes a huge new program of climate-friendly manufacturing investment, meant to turn the United States back into a major industrial exporter. She would spread R&D funding across all regions of the country and focus American trade policy on maintaining exporting power. This program would go hand in hand with her also just debuted “Green Manufacturing Plan,” which promises to allocate $1.5 trillion in federal spending for climate-friendly technology. She would also use federal power to encourage other countries to purchase this new American gear.
Essentially, Warren wants to bring Germany or South Korea’s mixed-economy model to the United States and then point it at the challenge of climate change. As I wrote in February, this suite of approaches—often called industrial policy, though Warren brands it as “economic development”—has roots in the ideas of Alexander Hamilton. It’s also clearly inspired by the same economic thinker, Mariana Mazzucato, who has consulted with Ocasio-Cortez and her allies about the Green New Deal.
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Which is no coincidence. Even if neither Biden nor Warren becomes president, their proposals demonstrate how the Green New Deal seems to be winning the battle of ideas among Democrats, at least for now. On his website, Biden even praises Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal by name, calling it “a crucial framework for meeting the climate challenges we face.” And both his plan and the Warren plan—and the Inslee climate plan, and O’Rourke’s proposal—adopt its theory of change, emphasizing that gushing federal investment can help the U.S. economy solve the problem of climate change. All four proposals, to varying degrees, promise a new age of plenty, a dawning era of renewed American dauntlessness. And they show how the window of political possibility has already moved significantly, such that Biden’s $1.5 trillion in climate-focused federal spending can start to seem moderate to right-wing observers.
In the Washington Examiner yesterday, the conservative writer Tiana Lowe paid relatively high praise to Biden’s plan. Unlike the Green New Deal, she said, Biden’s proposal is “not insane,” but a “legitimate, big-boy climate change plan” in its own right. She complimented its mention of nuclear power and focus on Chinese and Indian emissions. Lowe should look more discerningly: Any Democrat, except for maybe Sanders, would fund advanced nuclear approaches, and all of them would undoubtedly try to nudge down Asian pollution. Yet compared with the Green New Deal, those relatively milquetoast climate policies may suddenly seem friendly and effective to the right. “If nothing were executed into action here except for the international aspect, nuclear research and development, and the infrastructure developments that [Biden] details, it would do more to decrease greenhouse gas emissions in real life than any $93 trillion Green New Deal,” Lowe wrote.