Kirsten Gillibrand Wants Ten Trillion of Your Dollars to Fight Climate Change Or Whatever
Such a bargain! Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) is going to save the world, and it's only going to cost $10 trillion dollars. That's a one followed by 13 zeros, if you're keeping score at home.
POLITICO reports that Gillibrand's plan "relies on on several policy levers: government procurement, stronger regulations, pollution fees and research and development spending." I'm sure this is just a coincidence, but that much additional government intrusion into the energy industry damn near everything also creates new avenues for corruption and graft. And as we've seen in similar efforts in Europe, not always the promised reductions in carbon emissions.
But back to Gillibrand's specifics, which aren't all that specific. Except for the taxes, naturally.
Her six-point plan promises:
1. Get to net-zero carbon and greenhouse gas emissions and phase out fossil fuels.
2. Put a price on carbon and hold polluters accountable.
3. Build a green jobs economy.
4. Prioritize rural advancement, frontline communities, and marginalized voices.
5. Lead a 21st-century clean energy international “space race.”
6. Protect clean air, clean water, and public lands.
Point One is the biggie. By 2050 — that's just 30 years from now — Gillibrand wants us totally off of oil and natural gas. Where is all the replacement "renewable" energy going to come from, and how will consumers be able to afford it? We don't know.
Point Two. That's the tax, and it's $52 per ton of carbon, which she claims will raise $200 billion a year. Gillibrand says she'll raise an additional $100 billion a year on a "excise tax." If I'm reading this correctly, the goal is to make gasoline in low-cost states (like Texas) cost as much as it does in high-cost states (like California). And it would make Californians pay something like European prices. That's a lot of money, all on the backs on consumers. And if you think any of it will go to deficit reduction, no. Gillibrand plans to spend a lot of money on her "Climate Change Moonshot Plan."
Point Three. "Build a green jobs economy." All that extra money flowing into Washington has to get spent somewhere, and a "green jobs economy" is just the kind of meaningless fluff which allows politicians to dictate markets and generally screw things up in pursuit of nebulous goals.
Point Four. I always love promises like this. "Prioritize rural advancement, frontline communities, and marginalized voices" sounds awfully nice, doesn't it? What it means in practice is a slush fund for paying off various interest groups, both urban and rural. There's other people's money for everyone!
Point Five. A space race for green energy. What would that look like, anyway? Our first space race goal was to put a man on the Moon and return him safely to Earth. It cost a lot of money, but we did it. Having met that goal, NASA got into the business of spending a lot of money, without actually doing much manned space travel anymore. Phase Two didn't achieve nearly as much, but it was an excellent jobs program. Gillibrand's vacuous "plan" would skip the useful first phase, and get right into the equally expensive (but far less useful) second phase.
Point Six. Gillibrand promises to "protect clean air, clean water, and public lands." California and some major blue cities aside, we already do a pretty damn good job at that. But thanks for almost noticing, senator!
To sum up.
Point One is impossible. It's just an excuse to make everything more expensive, forcing interest groups to battle it out for advantage in Washington rather than in the marketplace. It's a boon for lobbyists and busybodies, and a heavy saddle on the backs of consumers.
Points Three and Five are filler, and don't mean much of anything. Let's dispense with those.
Point Six is just as meaningless, except to the extent (and I suspect it would be major) that Gillibrand wants to give the EPA wider powers to dictate the entire economy.
That leaves us with points Two and Four, which are the kind of programs Democrats live for. Big taxes on "bad" people who do things like drive trucks or heat their homes, plus promises of big payouts for assorted grievance groups. And, of course, plenty of new government jobs for keeping a watchful eye on all this new largess.
After all that, it's almost like beating a dead horse to go into Gillibrand's numbers, yet we must.
Her new taxes would raise only 30 percent of her ambitious (!) ten trillion dollar spending goal. And that's assuming they actually raised as much as planned, which they won't. I always apply the Clinton Rule to whatever figure politicians claim their tax hikes will raise, based on Clinton's 1993 tax hike. The Clinton rule shaves off 30 percent of whatever was promised. So instead of $3 trillion over ten years, it's likely to be closer to $2 trillion. Which leaves us somewhere between $7 and $8 trillion short.
Where will the money come from? Gillibrand says she'll "mobilize" the rest out of the private sector. If by "mobilize" she means anything other than "officially licensed pilfering," I can't imagine what it would be.
Incalculable new burdens on American consumers and businesses, lots of new taxes, even more new spending, and not much in the way of actual planet-saving.
But whatever. Other people's money is the only unlimited, renewable resource, and it never, ever runs out.