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Free College and Other Social Programs are Key to the Green New Deal’s Success

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Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey speak during a press conference to announce their proposal of Green New Deal legislation, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on February 7th, 2019.

Since Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey released the newest draft of the Green New Deal earlier this month, economists, political scientists, and opinion writers have evaluated the merits, demerits, feasibility, and psychology of the plan, which has been called a leftist fantasy, a manifesto, a bad idea, and a frivolous wish list.

That last term, “wish list,” ties in closely with one of the most common criticisms of the GND: that the social programs it includes, like a universal basic income, a federal jobs guarantee, and free college, aren’t related to the environment. Rather, according to critics, these are line items that progressives are sneaking into the plan to justify socialist policies in the name of the climate. As Jonathan Chait contends, the plan “contains far too much prescription in areas where none is needed, using the Green New Deal as a platform to add in unrelated proposals.”

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