During an appearance on Fox News Wednesday night, President Donald Trump continued to push the false claim that the Green New Deal, an ambitious Democratic resolution to cut carbon emissions, increase the use of renewable energy and create jobs, would cost taxpayers $100 trillion dollars.
“It’ll cost $100 trillion, nobody knows what that means,” Trump falsely claimed. “That means it’s more money than you have in the world, and it’ll be catastrophic.”
Numerous Republicans have touted a $93 trillion price tag for the resolution, a figure the president appeared to round up to $100 trillion last night. But experts say the estimate, which comes from a right-leaning think tank, is too vague to try to estimate its cost.
As noted by FactCheck.org:
The number is an estimate from the American Action Forum, a self-described “center-right policy institute.” The AAF is the “sister organization” of the American Action Network, a conservative nonprofit that has spent tens of millions of dollars supporting Republicans in general elections. The AAN is a tax-exempt 501(c)(4) that doesn’t disclose donors, but must disclose any independent expenditures on TV ads for or against specific candidates to the Federal Election Commission…The estimated costs only include outlays, and don’t factor in economic benefits or other effects.
The group produced a single figure or range for each category, which, when tallied, runs from $51 trillion to $93 trillion between 2020 and 2029. The summed figures don’t appear in the report, although they are mentioned in a separate summary. The upper number has gotten the most attention.
Experts told FactCheck that it’s not possible to put a specific price tag on the Green New Deal.
“I’d say that it is *way* too early to even pretend to put cost estimates on the ‘Green New Deal.’ It’s at this point a still-amorphous construct,” said Josh Bivens, director of research at the labor-funded Economic Policy Institute.
When Noah Kaufman, a research scholar at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy, was asked what one can say about how much the Green New Deal would cost, he said, “basically nothing.”
The Green New Deal, he said, is a set of ambitions, not policies, and how much things cost will depend on what the policies are.
“You can’t use policy analysis if you don’t have policy,” said Kaufman, who previously served as President Barack Obama’s deputy associate director of energy and climate change. “It just seems definitely premature and a little misleading to try to claim we know how much.”
Jeffrey Miron, the director of economic studies at the libertarian Cato Institute, said, “It’s hard to be very precise because a lot of the proposals are broad brush and vague.”
He nevertheless noted that other estimates — including one back-of-the-envelope calculation from Bloomberg Opinion writer Noah Smith, which came out to $6.6 trillion every year — have been roughly the same as the American Action Forum’s figure.
The president of the American Action Forum and a co-author of the analysis, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, defended the estimate, but acknowledged that using the $93 trillion figure by itself was not ideal.
“The figure’s not wrong, but it’s incomplete,” he said, adding that in a perfect world, people would give ranges and convey uncertainty. Holtz-Eakin is a former director of the Congressional Budget Office and was John McCain’s chief economic adviser during the 2008 presidential campaign.
Watch the Fox News segment, below: