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Green Party, responding to President Obama’s Sept. 8 address, calls ‘Green New Deal’ the key to job creation

Green Party urges public works programs to provide millions of jobs and help convert America to a secure green economy

Responding to President Obama’s speech Thursday night, the Green Party today called for a ‘Green New Deal’ to put Americans back to work while helping the US transition to a carbon-free green economy.

Jill Stein

Jill Stein

“We need a Green New Deal that will put all of the unemployed to work rebuilding America on the basis of an economically and ecologically sustainable prosperity.  The green in the Green New Deal means we must go beyond the old New Deal and bring an environmental focus to our public investments, including clean manufacturing processes, to not only address the crisis of climate change but to build the foundation of a sustainable green economy,” said Jill Stein, co-chair of the Green-Rainbow Party of Massachusetts (http://www.massgreens.org) and author of “Jobs for All with a Green New Deal” (Green Papers, September 5, 2011, http://www.greenpapers.net/?p=164).

“Other countries are already making major investments to position themselves for this future carbon-free economy.  America needs to catch up.  A Green New Deal offers the opportunity to revive and reinvent American manufacturing, so we can have good jobs by making the solar panels and wind towers and transit cars right here in America,” added Dr. Stein. 

Green Party leaders said that President Obama’s new jobs proposal will fall far short of finding enough jobs for the 25 million Americans who need employment.  They sharply criticized the president for failing to call for revenue measures needed to finance a robust jobs creation program, including taxes on Wall Street speculation, off-shore tax havens, millionaires and multimillion dollar estates, as well as a 30% reduction in the trillion-dollar bloated military-industrial-security complex budget.

“President Obama refused to address the massive problem of income inequality, a major cause of the economic recession.  The wealthiest 1% of Americans now take home 24% of the national income, up from 9% in 1976.  The last time the US had such massive income inequality was in 1927, which pushed the country into the Great Depression because of the loss of consumer spending,” said Laura Wells, Green candidate for the 2010 governor’s race in California.

Green leaders said that a payroll tax cut for working Americans will at best provide a modest economic stimulus, but agreed with President Obama’s support for extended unemployment benefits.

Greens have long advocated the establishment of an infrastructure bank, noting that North Dakota’s successful public banks have granted cheaper and easier access to credit to small businesses, nonprofits, and local governments.

“The path to full employment in America lies in building a green economy, not in caving to polluters as the Obama administration has done recently.  The New York Times reports that the recent surge of the Green Party in many European countries was due to the recognition that building a green economy is the key to job creation (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/02/world/europe/02greens.html).  Politicians in the US love to campaign on a green jobs agenda, but once elected, its back to pushing more tax cuts and handouts for large corporations,” said Starlene Rankin, co-chair of the Green Party’s national Lavender Green Caucus.

“A Green New Deal will establish government’s responsibility to guarantee the right to a job for every American willing and able to work.  Let’s turn the unemployment office into the employment office.  If the private sector fails to provide you a job, you go down to the employment office to get work.  We need to build ecologically sustainable energy and transportation infrastructure and production systems — clean renewable energy generation, retrofitting buildings and homes and other projects for energy efficiency, intra-city mass transit and inter-city railroads, ‘complete streets’ that encourage bikes and pedestrians, regional food systems based on sustainable organic agriculture, and clean manufacturing of the goods needed  to support a sustainable economy,” said Howie Hawkins, co-chair of the Green Party of New York State and Green candidate for Common Councilor in Syracuse, New York.

Green leaders noted that the White House launched several successful public works programs since the 1930s.  The Works Progress Administration (WPA) in the 1930s and Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) in the 1970s employed millions to provide necessary public infrastructure and public services like education, health, child care, elder care, youth programs, and arts and cultural projects.

The net cost of a WPA-style jobs program to create 25 million new jobs would be $666 billion, only about 50% more than the $447 billion President Obama proposes and less than the $825 billion in the 2009 stimulus — and miniscule compared to the trillions in Wall Street bailouts in 2008 and 2009.  (See “Learning from the New Deal” (draft) by Philip Harvey, Professor of Law and Economics at Rutgers School of Law,http://www.njfac.org/HarveyLearningND.pdf).  Assuming that a public jobs program would stimulate about one private job for every two public jobs created, we would need about 17.5 million public jobs the first year.  With pay between $14 to $17 per hour, plus benefits, the net cost per job would be only $28,600, compared to $228,055 per job cost of Obama’s initial 2009 stimulus, which mainly consisted of tax incentives.

Greens warned that Obama’s proposals also fail to provide enough relief from housing foreclosures. A July 2010 report from the International Monetary Fund shows that the foreclosure crisis account for more than 10% of the unemployment rate (http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/scr/2010/cr10248.pdf).  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-run mortgage companies, must aggressively reduce the principal balances on underwater loans and make refinancing easier for underwater borrowers.

The cost of a Green New Deal jobs program would be covered through a combination of carbon taxes to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increased taxes on the wealthy and Wall Street, and major cuts in the military budget.  According to the Congressional Budget Office, the top four contributors to the federal deficit are (in order of importance) the Bush tax cuts, reduced revenues in the wake of the 2008 economic meltdown, bank bailouts, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Defending America doesn’t require a globally deployed military, with bases in over 100 countries and full-scale occupations and wars on several fronts.  The military budget has doubled over the last decade. The US spends over $1 trillion a year on the military-industrial complex.  If we cut military spending by two-thirds to fully fund an Employment Assurance program in the depths of the current Great Recession, we would still spend three times more than China, the world’s next biggest military spender, China.

More on the Green New Deal: http://www.greenpartywatch.org/2010/08/11/62-green-candidates-endorse-green-new-deal

MORE INFORMATION

“Critics Still Wrong on What’s Driving Deficits in Coming Years: Economic Downturn, Financial Rescues, and Bush-Era Policies Drive the Numbers”
By Kathy Ruffing and James R. Horney, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, June 28, 2010
http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=3036

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