Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) explained how he will fund his massive $16 trillion Green New Deal proposal during the CNN town hall on climate change Wednesday evening, teasing tax hikes and military cuts.
One of the attendees asked Sanders how he will pay for his multitrillion-dollar Green New Deal proposal. The presidential candidate previewed his plan by first slamming President Trump for dismissing the left’s climate change agenda as a “hoax.”
“I may be old fashioned, but I believe in science,” Sanders said, warning that climate change is already causing “devastating” problems in the U.S. and around the world.
Sanders said that massive changes are required, citing an 11-year deadline before reaching the point of “irreparable” damage.
“If we don’t get our act together and make massive changes away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy within the next 11 years, the damage done to our country and the rest of the world will be irreparable,” Sanders said.
That is why, Sanders argued, a comprehensive $16 trillion plan is necessary.
“Yes, it is going to be expensive,” Sanders began before listing the four ways he would pay for the plan.
“This is how we get the money,” he said.
He would pay for it by:
1. Taking away tax breaks given to the fossil fuel industry:
For a start, insanely, but honestly, what goes on right now is we are giving the fossil fuel industry approximately $400 billion every single year in subsidies and tax breaks. Obviously, we end that. And we’re paying for this over a 15-year period, by the way.
2. Using the federal government to “move aggressively” to produce sustainable energy (wind and solar) and selling the technology:
Second of all, we believe that the federal government is the best way to move aggressively to produce sustainable energy, like wind and solar. We will expand concepts, public power concepts like the TVA right now to produce wind and solar and actually make a profit on that as we sell that to electric companies all over the world.
3. Cutting military spending:
Thirdly, we are not going to have to spend money on the military defending oil interests around the world. We can cut military spending there, as well.
4. Creating 20 million “good-paying jobs,” resulting in a greater tax base:
Fourthly, fourthly, our program will create up to 20 million good-paying jobs over the period of the 15 years. And when we do that, you’re going to have a lot of taxpayers out there who will be paying more in taxes. You’ll have people who are not getting food stamps and so forth. So those are the basic ways that we pay for this program. But most importantly, we are dealing with what the scientists call an existential threat to this planet, and we must respond aggressively, we must listen to the scientists. That is what our plan does.
— People for Bernie (@People4Bernie) September 5, 2019
As Breitbart News reported, Sanders’ plan promises “100 percent renewable energy for electricity and transportation by no later than 2030 and complete decarbonization by at least 2050” and includes billions for the expansion of existing entitlement programs and tribal land access and extension programs. His plan also pledges to “prosecute and sue the fossil fuel industry for the damage it has caused.”
Anderson Cooper — one of the town hall’s moderators — asked Sanders if he could “guarantee to the American public tonight that the responsibility for $16.3 trillion … wouldn’t end up on taxpayers’ shoulders.” Sanders was unable to do so.
“Well, it will end up on some taxpayers’ shoulders,” Sanders explained. “If you are in the fossil fuel industry, you’re going to be paying more in taxes, that’s for sure.”
And I happen to believe, in general, that at a time when we have massive levels of income and wealth inequality, where the richest three people in this country own more wealth than the bottom half of American society, where major profitable corporations like Amazon, who made over $10 billion in profits last year, didn’t pay a nickel in taxes, am I going to guarantee Jeff Bezos he’s not going to be paying more in taxes? No, I won’t.
Sanders also addressed critics who say that his $16 trillion plan is unrealistic.
“People say, ‘Well, Bernie, you know, you’re spending a lot of money. Is it realistic?’” Sanders asked.
“And my response to them is, ‘is it realistic to not listen to the scientists and to create a situation where the planet that our children and grandchildren and future generations will be living in will be increasingly uninhabitable and unhealthy? Is that realistic?’” he asked.
“I think we have a moral responsibility to act and act boldly,” he added.