The American Action Forum, a center-right think tank, estimated that the Green New Deal could cost between $51 trillion and $93 trillion, depending on the calculation. As IJR previously reported, the Green New Deal aims to have 100 percent renewable energy, universal health care, and guaranteed jobs for all Americans.
Obviously, that wasn’t going to come cheap, but $93 trillion can be difficult to even comprehend properly.
In a frequently asked questions document produced by Ocasio-Cortez’s office, somewhat controversially, her team explained that it sees the Green New Deal as just another lofty goal that Americans can achieve in the vein of the moon landing or winning World War II.
“This is our moonshot,” her team wrote, adding:
When JFK said we’d go to the by the end of the decade, people said impossible. If Eisenhower wanted to build the interstate highway system today, people would ask how we’d pay for it. When FDR called on America to build 185,000 planes to fight World War 2, every business leader, CEO, and general laughed at him.
Financially speaking, this is more than the moonshot, World Wars, or the interstate system. In fact, it’s three times more expensive than that.
The entire Apollo Program: $0.14 trillion
As Ocasio-Cortez’s team noted, getting a man on the moon was an ambitious goal. And while it was Apollo 11 that planted the American flag on the surface of the moon, all of the research that went into the Apollo program was important to that mission and should be included in the total costs.
According to the report given to Congress in 1973, the total Apollo program cost $25.4 billion. Adjusting the costs to today’s rates using the U.S. inflation calculator, that would be approximately $144 billion.
American Wars from WWI to today: $31.4 trillion
Although Ocasio-Cortez’s team only listed the mobilization for World War II, we’ll throw in all of the war’s and conflicts the American military has engaged in since its entry to World War I in 1917 to be generous.
World War I
According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, World War I cost the American people $32 billion by the time it ended in 1918. Adjusting for inflation, WWI would cost $533 billion in today’s dollars.
World War II
As Ocasio-Cortez’s team noted, the U.S. was much more financially involved in World War II. According to Norwich University, it cost the American people around $4 trillion in today’s dollars to defeat the Axis forces.
The Cold War
Following WWII, the U.S. fell into a period of military expansion to fend off the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The U.S. also engaged in Korea and Vietnam during this time. According to a report by Brooklyn College, the total military spending by the U.S. from 1945 to 1996 was $13.1 trillion.
Adjusted to today’s dollars, the Cold War cost $21 trillion.
War on Terror
Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the U.S. entered its longest military conflict in history. The still-ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other regions of the Middle East have not come cheap.
According to a report from the Watson Institute at Brown University, the War on Terror cost $5.9 trillion from 2001 to 2018.
The U.S. Interstate System: $0.19 trillion
As Ocasio-Cortez’s team noted, former President Dwight Eisenhower championed the interstate highway system in the United States. Although there are still ongoing maintenance expenses involved in the highway system, a report from the Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration detailed that the total federal cost of the interstate system was $119 billion in the fiscal year of 1996.
In today’s dollars, that totals $190 billion.
The final bill: approximately $31.8 trillion
For somewhere between $51 trillion and $93 trillion, the Green New Deal promises the demise of fossil fuels, cow farts, and air travel.
For about one-third of the potential cost of the Green New Deal, Americans defeated the Nazis, witnessed the rise and fall of the Soviet Union, put a man on the moon, and connected the country with an interstate highway system.