Letter: Green New Deal could pull economy out of COVID-19 tailspin
It’s projected that the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic will be comparable to the impacts of the Great Depression. New Deal programs of the 1930s were created to help bring the United States out of the economic disaster of the Great Depression.
Many of our most important government programs came out of the New Deal: unemployment benefits, Social Security, Medicare, the Soil Conservation Service, the Rural Electrification Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. We will need economic stimulus on a par with the New Deal to successfully move beyond the coronavirus pandemic.
The coronavirus combined with catastrophic climate disruption is creating a future that will result in increasing uncertainty and disruption to our way of life. As a result of COVID-19, people are losing their jobs and whatever health insurance they had through those jobs. Our economic structure seems to be falling apart. The importance of a social safety net and the role of government in responding to crises is more obvious now than ever.
The Green New Deal is a wide-ranging strategy that would provide funding and direction to address many of the problems that the present situation is exacerbating: health and child care, education, accessible and affordable housing, public transit and racial and gender wealth gaps. A Green New Deal would create good, unionized, family-supporting, green jobs with benefits. A 2019 study showed that the green economy sector was creating more jobs, by three-to-one, than fossil fuels. It would fund infrastructure and land regeneration projects, energy efficiency and renewable energy.
We’ve seen that in an emergency the government can provide an infusion of funding to help pick up the pieces. There are additional ways to create funding for a Green New Deal: divert the approximately $775 million per year of fossil fuel tax breaks and subsidies to support green energy and efficiency; a 1% billionaire’s tax; closing down tax havens; a tax on Wall Street transactions; and polluter pays measures.
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Between 1979 and 1989, before fossil fuel companies began their well-funded misinformation campaigns, the basic science of climate change was accepted and understood by both sides of the political spectrum. Now is the time to join together again in a concerted effort to both pull our economy out of the coronavirus tailspin and address the quickly accelerating impacts of catastrophic climate disruption.
Let your local, state and federal elected officials know if you support a Green New Deal.
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