Congress Blog

The Green New Deal will set the world on Fyre

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of The Hill

Having spent nearly two decades serving as a vocational minister, I have planned dozens of concerts, productions and major events.

That is why the debacle around the Fyre Festival is so fascinating to me. One rule in event planning - and also in politics - is to manage expectations and have a full scope of an undertaking. Fyre's first move, a video claiming the event would be "on the boundaries of the impossible," was a complete misstep.

It turns out the hype was impossible, falling far beyond that boundary. It reminded me of something marketed to the American people last week: the Green New Deal.

Instead of a hype video promising a tropical paradise, the Green New Deal listed an unrealistic utopian manifesto of guarantees leading to dystopia, including paychecks for those "unwilling to work," government-provided wages, the elimination of all fossil fuels and the upgrading or rebuilding of every building in the United States.

To be fair, the sponsors of the proposal did hamper expectations by admitting they "aren't sure" that they could eliminate "cows or air travel" within 10 years.

It is estimated these ideas could increase American families' electric bills by $3,800 per year, eliminate all airplanes and gas-burning cars, and put millions of Americans out of work. Taking a train from North Carolina to California hardly sounds like utopia to me.

But what did we learn from Fyre? When an unproven idea can't stand on its own merits, it's always good to have influencers and promoters, right? In their minds, it's not false advertising if they don't know what they're selling.

Billy McFarland knew the power of celebrity. If you have the right people on your side, you can always work out the details later. People will buy it. Enter the 2020 Democratic presidential field and freshmen House Democrats.

Sens. Cory Booker (N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Kamala Harris (Calif.), and Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) were all racing to the gate to endorse the Green New Deal, broadcasting their endorsement to their combined 10 million Twitter followers. It's all about the likes, nevermind the deliverables.

Supporting a proposal that promises to terminate our domestic cow population (or at least stop their flatulence) because your favorite 'influencer' posted on instagram is dumber than buying a four-figure ticket to see Blink-182 without an address; maybe you can tell, I am not "Feeling This.".

To be fair, some congressional Democrats were not as quick to sign off. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), known for passing bills without reading them, seemed to belittle the effort by members of her own caucus, saying, "the green dream, or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is, but they're for it, right?"

The green dream is a good characterization, but does not go far enough. When you look at the cash that American taxpayers will have to put down, on top of the up to $3,800 increase in annual electric bills, it becomes the green nightmare. A Stanford University study estimates that a similar plan on a slower implementation window would require $13.4 trillion in capital investment, or about two-thirds of the entire U.S. economy.

Supporters of the Green New Deal do not seem concerned with these practical questions. They say we will figure out how to pay for it later. "The question isn't how we'll pay for it, but what we will do with our new shared prosperity," Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said.

Right. And if you believe that I have a luxury cabana on a private island in the Bahamas to sell you. Oh, and you need to preload this wristband. Don't ask questions, just send your money.

The Green New Deal is Washington's Fyre Festival. What is being sold sounds great but that is because it is unrealistic, unserious, and distracts from the gains we have already made in protecting our environment and modernizing our energy markets. In fact, Vermont tried a similar experiment, cancelling even nuclear energy. The result was an increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

Here is the biggest difference: In business, as Billy McFarland found out, fraud will end with jail time and financial ruin. In politics, there are fewer repercussions and taxpayers pick up the bill.

Walker represents North Carolina's 6th District.