By MARSHA MERCER
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been in the Senate longer than Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York has been alive.
That imbalance became clear Tuesday as McConnell set up a vote to make Democrats pay for their reckless embrace of the Green New Deal.
McConnell, who turns 77 Wednesday, arrived in the Senate in 1985. Ocasio-Cortez was born in 1989.
At 29, she is the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, a wizard at social media with 3.1 million Twitter followers. A video of her House Oversight and Reform Committee “Lightning Round” take-down at the of lax ethics and campaign finance rules is an internet sensation.
But her rollout of the much-anticipated Green New Deal was a disaster.
To recap, her office released and then retracted a frequently-asked-questions sheet that included the goals of economic security for people “unwilling to work,” and eventually ridding the country of flatulent cows, airplanes and various industries.
None of those ideas is in the actual resolution, H. Res. 109, but they were the first many people heard about the Green New Deal. Ocasio-Cortez didn’t help matters when she falsely said there were “doctored” FAQ versions on the internet.
The resolution is non-binding but would indicate support to set the federal government on the path of a “10 year national mobilization” to fight climate change and remake the economy.
Among the goals: “Meeting 100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources.” It also guarantees jobs, education, food and health care for everyone.
Such sweeping changes need serious consideration with months, if not years, of hearings, and compromises. By rushing out a resolution in her first month in office, Ocasio-Cortez delighted her fans but walked into a trap.
The conservative media and President Donald Trump quickly blasted the Green New Deal as ridiculous.
“It sounds like a high school term paper that got a low mark,” Trump said at a campaign rally in El Paso. “I really don’t like their policy of taking away your car, of taking away your airplane rights, of ‘Let’s hop a train to California,’ or you’re not allowed to own cows anymore!”
Ocasio-Cortez rightly could have said her manifesto wouldn’t do any of those things. It doesn’t include any specific proposals. But she lobbed her response by tweet: “Ah yes, a man who can’t even read briefings written in full sentences is providing literary criticism of a House Resolution.”
Meanwhile, McConnell, a veteran of many political wars, was setting the trap.
He looked like the cat that swallowed the canary when he announced the Senate would vote on the Green New Deal resolution. A resolution identical to Ocasio-Cortez’s was introduced by Sen. Edward Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts.
“We’ll give everybody an opportunity to go on record and see how they feel about the Green New Deal,” McConnell told reporters.
Mischievous Mitch used to say he would only bring measures to the floor that would get Trump’s signature. This time he means to get Democrats on the record so Republican candidates can hammer them during 2020 campaigns.
Half a dozen Democratic senators are running for president, and nearly a dozen Democrats face tough Senate re-election bids.
The botched rollout has made more than Ocasio-Cortez look amateurish. So too do the presidential hopefuls who jumped on the bandwagon.
Six cosponsors are announced or likely presidential contenders -- Sens. Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren. Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent who may run again, is also a cosponsor.
In contrast, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, 78, a wily congressional veteran who came to the House in 1987, has kept the Green New Deal at arm’s length.
“It will be one of several or maybe many suggestions that we receive,” Pelosi told Politico. “The green dream or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is, but they’re for it, right?”
Pelosi saw early what’s now dawning on less savvy Democrats: The Green New Deal wasn’t ready for prime time. It created a political opening for Republicans and a liability for Democrats.
©2019 Marsha Mercer. All rights reserved.
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