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The White House infrastructure plan has $111 billion to improve water and sewer systems. (Shutterstock) The White House infrastructure plan has $111 billion to improve water and sewer systems. (Shutterstock)

The White House infrastructure plan has $111 billion to improve water and sewer systems. (Shutterstock)

Jon Greenberg
By Jon Greenberg April 2, 2021

Citizens United calls Biden’s infrastructure plan the Green New Deal. It isn’t.

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  • The White House infrastructure plan would cost about $2.3 trillion. A Green New Deal-type plan would cost $9.5 trillion.

  • The Green New Deal included broader social economic goals, such as a guaranteed livable wage, affordable higher education and universal health care.

Republican opposition to President Joe Biden’s infrastructure proposal has been swift and vocal.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said that as written, the $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan released March 31 was a nonstarter. The conservative PAC Citizens United put Biden’s plan in the same boat as the Green New Deal, a sweeping environmental and social justice agenda that Republicans have condemned.

"Does this sound like an infrastructure bill to you?" the group tweeted March 31, with a link to a New York Times article about the proposal. "It's not. It's the Green New Deal. "

The Times article described Biden’s plan as the first step in a legislative package that aimed to boost productivity, fight climate change and "overhaul American capitalism."

During the presidential campaign, Biden said he does not support the Green New Deal. His current proposal is a blend of money for traditional brick-and-mortar infrastructure — roads, water supplies, broadband, etc. — clean energy and improved manufacturing, and social service infrastructure, meaning caregivers for seniors and the disabled.

We called and emailed Citizens United to ask on what basis they equated the White House initiative with the Green New Deal. We did not hear back.

There’s overlap between the two, but also considerable differences.

Differences in size and scope

The Green New Deal was a House resolution introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., that laid out a set of climate, economic and social goals. Ocasio-Cortez criticized the Biden plan, saying "This is not nearly enough."

The 2019 resolution was not a line-by-line spending plan. But the Green New Deal inspired the crafting of the THRIVE Act, legislation due to be introduced in April by a group of Democrats in Congress to advance the goals of the resolution.

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The THRIVE Act does have a proposed budget. The Green New Deal Network, a group of advocacy groups, summarized it in a spreadsheet, and it comes out to much more than the American Jobs Plan. 

Over a 10-year span, it would spend about $9.5 trillion, or about $7 trillion more than Biden’s proposal. Two of the largest differences are in the areas of clean energy and agriculture.

The THRIVE Act would spend about 10 times more than the American Jobs Plan on clean energy. For agriculture, the White House has no spending line, while the THRIVE Act has $1.6 trillion to support farming that uses less fossil fuels and locks more carbon in the soil. (The recently passed stimulus law provided about $5.6 billion in aid to farmers and rural communities.)

Here is our summary of how the two spending plans compare across some major categories.

The American Jobs Plan also includes about $480 billion to boost manufacturing and research and development, some of which might boost clean energy. The THRIVE Act folds money for those activities into other line items, primarily its investments in clean energy.

Ryan Schleeter, spokesman for Greenpeace USA, a Green New Deal Network member, said it is misleading to equate Biden’s proposal with the Green New Deal.

"The American Jobs Plan is similar in intent to the THRIVE Act, but far narrower in scope and scale," Schleeter said.

Among the broader items on the original Green New Deal agenda were a guaranteed livable wage, affordable higher education and universal health care. The American Jobs Plan does not include those elements.

Our ruling

Citizens United said that Biden’s infrastructure proposal is the Green New Deal.

The two plans share some common approaches, but a spending plan inspired by the Green New Deal is about four times larger than the Biden plan. The Green New Deal also advocates broader social goals that are absent from the White House infrastructure proposal.

We rate this claim Mostly False.

 

Our Sources

Citizens United, tweet, March 31, 2021

New York Times, Biden, in Pennsylvania, Details $2 Trillion Infrastructure Plan, March 31, 2021

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, tweet, March 31, 2021

Sierra Club, White House BBB package and THRIVE, March 31, 2021

White House, Fact sheet: The American Jobs Plan, March 31, 2021

Green New Deal Network, THRIVE Act, accessed April 2, 2021

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

Green New Deal Resolution, Feb. 7, 2019

U.S. Department of Agriculture, United States Department of Agriculture Provisions in H.R. 1319, the American Rescue Plan, March 10, 2021

Email exchange, Ryan Schleeter, spokesman, Greenpeace USA, April 1, 2021

Email exchange, Ben Beachy, director, Living Economy, Sierra Club, April 1, 2021

 

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Citizens United calls Biden’s infrastructure plan the Green New Deal. It isn’t.

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