Stefanik: Tax hikes make Green New Deal a ‘non-starter’

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik waves to a crowd while marching in the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival parade Feb. 9. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

North Country Congresswoman Elise Stefanik says she opposes the proposed Green New Deal resolution because it will raise taxes and change the economy.

“It’s a massive tax hike on American families,” the Republican from Schuyler-ville said in a phone interview Tuesday. “It’s a non-starter for rural communities and for, frankly, hard-working families across the country.”

Stefanik was asked whether she thinks it is worth it to have more taxes and possibly damage the economy if it will heal a damaged environment.

“I don’t support tax hikes,” Stefanik said. “This was a key issue in 2018. My opponent clearly supports raising taxes on the North Country’s families. I don’t support tax hikes, and that is consistent from when I ran in 2014 — it’s consistent today.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Democratic congresswoman from New York City who introduced the resolution, has proposed increasing the marginal tax rate on people with annual incomes above $10 million to 70 percent. but the “Frequently Asked Questions” section of her website acknowledges that this tax hike is not enough.

“The level of investment required is massive,” says the FAQ. “Even if every billionaire and company came together and were willing to pour all the resources at their disposal into this investment, the aggregate value of the investments they could make would not be sufficient.”

Ocasio-Cortez has not yet clarified if the rest of that investment would be met by corporate investors or a tax on other American citizens.

Stefanik received a 51 percent score on her League of Conservation Voters scorecard in 2018, up from 9 percent in her first term. In 2017 she introduced the Republican Climate Resolution, which states that being stewards of the environment is a conservative value. While it affirmed that climate change is a threat to American health, safety and business, it said solutions should case no harm to the economy and proposed no specific actions.

Stefanik said aspects of the Green New Deal would harm infrastructure, dairy products and air travel. She said information provided by Ocasio-Cortez office “talked about how this proposal would upgrade or replace every single building in the U.S. for energy efficiency purposes.”

“That is an incredibly costly and just not a tenable position,” Stefanik said.

One of the resolution’s goals is “Upgrading all existing buildings in the United States and building new buildings to achieve maximal energy efficiency, water efficiency, safety, affordability, comfort, and durability, including through electrification.”

Stefanik added that “It wants to outlaw air travel essentially.”

What the resolution’s wording supports is “overhauling transportation systems … through investment in zero-emission vehicle infrastructure and manufacturing (and) clean, affordable, and accessible public transportation.”

Stefanik followed up her first statement by quoting an FAQ section on Ocasio-Cortez’s website that has since been taken down.

“They used the words ‘build out high-speed rail to scale,’ where air travel stops becoming necessary,” Stefanik said. “Certainly, air travel is an important part of the overall economy in the United States.”

Stefanik also said the Green New Deal “is a proponent of massive reductions to beef and dairy consumption. … Agriculture is the backbone of our North Country economy. … I think we should be promoting dairy products in our ad community and not trying to eliminate it.”

The resolution states that a goal of “working collaboratively with farmers and ranchers in the United States to eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector as much as is technologically feasible … by supporting family farming (and) by building a more sustainable food system that ensures universal access to healthy food.”

Asked for her view of how dire Earth’s environmental situation is, Stefanik referred to her voting record.

“I have one of the most independent records when it comes to the Republican Party and climate change,” Stefanik said. “I have been a leading voice in bipartisan climate change solutions, supporting renewable energy, whether that’s solar, wind or biomass. I have been a proponent in terms of making sure that from a national security perspective we understand that climate change is a threat. … I am a believer that we need to come together in a bipartisan solution, rather than this massive $90 million plus tax hike on the American public.”

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