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Amy Sherman
By Amy Sherman September 27, 2019

This GOP talking point that the Green New Deal will cost every household $600,000 is False

Critics of the Green New Deal have circulated numerous false claims about the resolution — saying it would do everything from ban farting cows to eliminate air travel.

Now the Republican Party of Florida is repeating a familiar talking point that the Green New Deal would create a scary pricetag.

"Democrats are proposing a radical $93 trillion Green New Deal which has been condemned by unions as a job killer and would put a $600,000 tax burden on every household," the Florida GOP tweeted Sept. 20.

We previously fact-checked a claim that included the $93 trillion figure and rated it False. (President Donald Trump rounds up the claim to $100 trillion.) Here we will explain why the $600,000 figure is misleading, too.

We found there is no government analysis of the cost of the Green New Deal per household. This is in part because the Green New Deal expresses goals; it doesn’t lay out specific policies. The $600,000 figure is based on adding up estimates in a report from a right-of-center group that cautioned it was an "initial foray." But the GOP talking point exaggerates and oversimplifies the analysis so much that the $600,000 figure can’t be considered accurate.

The basics about the Green New Deal

The Green New Deal is a House resolution that U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, introduced in February. 

Resolutions are not actual, detailed legislation in themselves. In this case, the Green New Deal resolution in the House — and its companion measure that was introduced in the Senate — address broad principles to curb climate change and protect the environment. The resolutions extend into other domestic policy areas, as well, including jobs and health care. 

But the proposal doesn’t lay out any cost figures, and it has not received a cost estimate by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

The House resolution was forwarded to several committees and subcommittees for further review. The Republican-led Senate, meanwhile, voted down the measure in March after it was introduced by Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and co-sponsored by many Senate Democrats running for president.

The source of the $600,000 figure

The Florida GOP did not respond to our questions about the source of their evidence, but conservative news outlets have cited the $600,000 figure from a February report by the American Action Forum, a right-of-center think tank. The American Action Forum is a sister organization of the American Action Network, a conservative advocacy organization.

The American Action Forum acknowledged the difficulty in coming up with a number for the cost, saying that "the breadth of its proposals makes it daunting to assess" and that many of the proposed policies are redundant, "which also complicates a precise analysis."

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The report doesn’t mention the $600,000 figure or a total for the estimated per-household cost. However, it does show the estimated per-household cost for different parts of the Green New Deal, some of which were expressed in ranges.

The Florida GOP’s tweet said that the Green New Deal  "would put a $600,000 tax burden on every household" -- which could suggest a massive tax increase for every family. But the American Action Forum analysis doesn’t actually say that every household will pay that cost in new taxes. And the costs identified in the analysis are spread over about a decade, from 2020 to 2029.

Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the American Action Forum and a former head of the Congressional Budget Office, told PolitiFact that he stands by the analysis.

"We never actually added it up," he said. "We tried to get the order of magnitude, what are we looking at here? That was the intent of that first piece."

If we add up the high-end range in each category, that adds up to $671,010 between 2020 and 2029. If we added up the low-end range in each category, it adds up to $369,010. 

To come up with estimates, the American Action Forum made a series of assumptions, such as that the Green New Deal would lead to enough high-speed rail transit available that air travel becomes unnecessary. The actual text of the resolution does not call for grounding airplanes. (A much-panned FAQ document written by Ocasio-Cortez’s staff said "we aren’t sure that we’ll be able to fully get rid of farting cows and airplanes that fast." But a staff-written FAQ carries zero weight legislatively.)

The American Action Forum analysis also factored in costs for Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All. However, the text of the Senate resolution itself doesn’t include a statement on Medicare for All -- instead, it more broadly calls for "high-quality health care." (At least some of the resolution co-sponsors do support separate legislation Medicare for All however.)

Holtz-Eakin said he had hoped more specifics would emerge from proponents allowing a more specific cost analysis, but that hasn’t happened, he said.

Our ruling

The Florida GOP tweeted that the Green New Deal "would put a $600,000 tax burden on every household."

The Green New Deal is a set of goals; it does not impose specific taxes. Instead, the $600,000 number comes from a brief that its author, the right-of-center American Action Forum, acknowledges is a preliminary and rough estimate. The analysis did not say that every household would pay an extra $600,000 in taxes. Instead, it estimated what costs might be under a range of scenarios over a period of 10 years. 

It’s possible the resolution will eventually lead to legislation that can be formally analyzed for potential costs, but at this point, such costs can’t be determined.

We rate this statement False. 


Our Sources

Republican Party of Florida, Tweet, Sept. 20, 2019, "H.Res.109 - Recognizing the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal," Feb. 12, 2019, S.Res.59 - A resolution recognizing the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal, Feb. 7, 2019

American Action Forum, "The Green New Deal: Scope, Scale, and Implications," Feb. 25, 2019

American Action Forum, Comparing the Benefits and Costs of Notable Climate Policies, May 8, 2019

Politico, The bogus number at the center of the GOP’s Green New Deal attacks, March 10, 2019

Washington Post, Trump's math on the Democrats' Green New Deal may have come from a tweet, March 22, 2019

Washington Post, Senate defeats Green New Deal, as Democrats call vote a ‘sham’ March 26, 2019

Brian Riedl, senior fellow at Manhattan Institute, Tweet, Feb. 8, 2019

Republican Party of Virginia, Democrat agenda: getting rid of farting cows and airplanes, Accessed Sept. 24, 2019

Wisconsin GOP, Tweet, July 30, 2019

Michigan GOP, Tweet, Aug. 13, 2019

Factbase, Speech: Donald Trump Holds a Political Rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, April 27, 2019

Fox News, Green New Deal would cost up to $93 trillion, or $600G per household, study says, Feb. 25, 2019

Washington Times op-ed by Rep. Sam Graves, Time to face reality -- Green New Deal is a nightmare, Sept. 9, 2019

Washington Examiner, I also plan to surround · myself with great people ·and in addition to that investigation, Feb. 27, 2019

PolitiFact, Ernst uses flabby $93 trillion estimate for Green New Deal, March 12, 2019

PolitiFact, "7 questions about the Green New Deal," Feb. 12, 2019

PolitiFact Florida, "No, the Green New Deal doesn't aim to end air travel, as Florida Sen. Rick Scott says," Feb. 28, 2019

Telephone interview, American Action Forum president Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Sept. 24, 2019

Email interview, Giselle Barry, Sen. Ed Markey spokeswoman, Sept. 24, 2019


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