The Green New Deal isn’t as radical as you think

The non-binding resolution is a good start

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The Green New Deal isn’t as radical as you think

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

By Matt Berg, Collegian Columnist

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Differing views in the Massachusetts Daily Collegian are essential in maintaining a fair press. Expressing views leaning to the left or leaning to the right are welcomed, but there must be a variety of voices for balance. I have no problem with people writing in favor of one party or another, but I do, as a journalist, take issue with misleading columns such as Greg Fournier’s “The folly of Democratic socialism.”

The Green New Deal is a non-binding resolution, meaning that it cannot progress into a law. The column makes it appear as though Democrats are actively trying to implement all of these expensive initiatives through legislation. The idea of the GND is to work toward a path for the future, not to implement direct legislation. This should be addressed in Fournier’s piece, but he misleads the audience by referring to a proposal and not a non-binding resolution.

In her first week in Congress, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez proposed a 70 percent marginal tax rate on the wealthiest Americans. Taxes are confusing, and the plan is worth an entire article of explaining, but what matters for now is a basic understanding. Ocasio-Cortez’s plan would apply to those making over $10 million. For every dollar up to $10 million, those people would be taxed at a lower rate than 70 percent. On every dollar above $10 million, those people would be taxed 70 percent. It is worth mentioning that these people would likely benefit from deductions and exclusions.

Her plan appears extremely radical if you don’t understand that it only affects those earning over $10 million. It also doesn’t help when top-ranking politicians purposely mislead the public, such as Republican Whip Steve Scalise claiming that the government would “take away 70 percent of your income.” 

“They want to take away your car, reduce the value of your home and put millions of Americans out of work, spend $100 trillion,” Trump recently claimed at a rally. This is also not true.

Her plan would not generate as much money as it sounds like it would due to deductions, exemptions and other loopholes, but it also wouldn’t take away everyone’s income. Read this Forbes article for a more in-depth discussion.

As any student in an Introduction to Journalism class can tell you, an article is as strong as its sources. A journalist shouldn’t pick and choose sources that agree with their viewpoints; they must strive to use unbiased sources, even in an opinion piece. Most of the sources in Fournier’s article were solid, but one in particular should not be glossed over. Fournier references a video that was created by Campus Reform. The video shows college students at the University of Miami, originally supportive of the Green New Deal, that become critical of it.

After researching Campus Reform, I found interesting titles that led me to be skeptical of the source. These titles included “The top 5 triggered campus liberals of 2017,” “’Socialism is the largest threat facing the future of our country” and “Living with a liberal roommate.” Of course, the video linked proves the writer’s point; Campus Reform wouldn’t post the video if it didn’t agree with their views.

“I think that this video is a microcosm of all Democratic socialist ideas: While the proposals sound great at first, people do not support the proposals after actually looking into the issue,” Fournier wrote.

College students aren’t the ideal audience for answering impromptu political questions; they are busy and often cannot keep up with all political discussions. It is silly to think this is the ideal audience and could represent an entire country’s beliefs. Even if the most representative individuals on campus were somehow chosen, a basic statistics class would teach you that this isn’t a simple random sample of the country.

Having any proposal regarding economic inequality and climate change, no matter how drastic, is better than having no discussion about it at all. Republicans do not include these in the majority of their legislation or resolutions, so without action from other parties, they would never be addressed.

Fournier references the apparent absurdity of free college in his column as well. Free college would cost a huge amount of money, no one is arguing that. The Tax Policy Center does, as Fournier states, estimate that it would cost $807 billion over 10 years. But let’s put that into perspective.

An $807 billion free college act over 10 years would cost $80.7 billion per year. Add this to this to the current $63.2 billion budget and the annual budget comes to $143.9 billion. Trump recently signed the 2019 Defense Authorization Act, which raised the military budget to $717 billion – $717 billion per year. Along with other departments relating to the military, The Balance estimates that the annual military budget is about $892 billion. In 2017, the military budget was $582.7 billion. Over the past three years, the military bonuses alone could have covered the free college budget three times.

The biggest problem I have with the column is how skewed the perspective is. Fournier assumes that there is equivalence between Democrats and Socialists, which is a dangerous assumption. Not all Republicans are conservative; generalizations like these are what polarize the political climate. Many Republicans are trying to paint all Democrats to be as far left as possible before the upcoming election in order to make them appear radical, when the Green New Deal is, in reality, a set of ideas to gradually work toward.

Matt Berg is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]