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John Avlon Looks At Beto O'Rourke's Ambitious Climate Proposal

"From floods, melting polar icecaps, it doesn't give a damn about our politics. It is nice to see policy," Avlon said.
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CNN's John Avlon began his Reality Check segment on the ambitious climate proposal put forth by candidate Beto O'Rouke by talking about the Green New Deal.

"While seven of the 2020 candidates back it, it was basically a conversation starter, not ready for prime time, which might explain why the senator eager to put it up for a vote was Senator Mitch McConnell," Avlon said.

"But Democrats understand climate change is an existential issue. Elizabeth Warren has been lapping the other candidates. Beto's first policy is a doozy, $5 trillion investment over ten years to tackle climate change. It starts with a $1.5 trillion paid by the wealthiest among us, their fair share in tax increases. Beto wants to come on strong with Day One items, rejoining the Paris climate accords, reversing Trump's policies through executive action. It is all designed to get us to net zero emissions by 2050, which is considered a make it or break moment by many scientists.

"To give you a sense of the scope of this proposal, that $5 trillion is about as much as 48 Marshal Plans, two Trump tax cuts. Beto has been belated on the issue, according to at least one candidate, Jay Inslee, Washington governor, trying to build a campaign over it. He called for a ten-year plan, infrastructure changes, and ending fossil fuel subsidies. He has been comparatively light on specifics, including how much it'll cost, saying the full plan will be released, quote, 'in the coming weeks.'

"Also light on specifics? That would be the rest of the 2020 field. The New York Times sent a climate survey out to the candidates. While everyone agrees rejoining the climate accords from Paris is a no-brainer, that's the only thing they all agree on. Only seven agree on carbon emissions tax. Seven support bringing more nuclear power plants online, and only nine said they favor more federal regulations. Incentive-based policies like cap and trade used to get broad support, but it was more than a decade ago, when it was possible to imagine Nancy Pelosi and Newt Gingrich sitting on a couch together, talking about climate change.

"But the first step to solving a problem is recognizing you have one, and there's no question it's gotten worse. From floods, melting polar ice caps, it doesn't give a damn about our politics. It is nice to see policy. Because without it, the 2020 campaign is going to be a lot more hot air. And that's your reality check."

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