Barack Obama Not Only Had His Own ‘Green New Deal,’ He Got It Passed By Congress 10 Years Ago

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez claims that 'no one else has even tried' to create climate change legislation, but President Barack Obama passed a $90 billion climate spending package in 2009.

Barack Obama speaks in 2009.
Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez claims that 'no one else has even tried' to create climate change legislation, but President Barack Obama passed a $90 billion climate spending package in 2009.

On February 7, first-term New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez introduced the sweeping Green New Deal resolution. According to the text posted on the United States Congress site, the non-binding resolution aims “to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions,” as well as numerous other broad goals, all “through a 10-year national mobilization.”

Critics immediately slammed the Green New Deal as overly vague, unworkable, and too expensive, with some estimates putting the price tag at $93 trillion, according to the business magazine Fortune. But at an event in New York City on Saturday evening, the 29-year-old Ocasio-Cortez fired back at critics of the resolution, claiming that “no one else has even tried” to create a sweeping climate change legislation package.

“I just introduced Green New Deal two weeks ago, and it’s creating all of this conversation. Why? Because no one else has even tried,” she said at the event, as quoted by the conservative Daily Caller site.

“So people are like, ‘Oh it’s unrealistic. Oh it’s vague. Oh it doesn’t address this little minute thing.’ And I’m like, ‘You try. You do it. ‘Cuz you’re not. ‘Cuz you’re not. So, until you do it, I’m the boss.’ How ’bout that?'”

But in fact, the Green New Deal resolution is far from the first broad climate change package introduced in Congress. In 2009, President Barack Obama not only introduced a $90 billion climate change spending bill, but he also succeeded in passing the bill through the House and Senate — all within the first month of his presidency. Obama signed the bill, which was included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act — better known as the “stimulus package” — on February 17, 2009, as The Guardian recounts.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez introduces the Green New Deal resolution.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (c) introduces the Green New Deal resolution. Alex Wong / Getty Images

The ARRA, or “stimulus,” was intended to save the United States economy from collapse in the disastrous wake of the 2008 economic crisis and recession. But according to journalist Michael Grunwald, writing in Politico, the environmental portion of the $800 billion package “jump-started America’s gradual transition to a low-carbon economy.”

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Grunwald, author of a book on the stimulus package, The New New Deal: The Hidden Story of Change in the Obama Era explained to the site The Grist that the climate-change portion of the bill was “ginormous.”

The bill’s programs, Obama claimed, would “double renewable power generation” during the four years of his first term alone. That goal was accomplished successfully, Grunwald said. In addition, by changing the financing structure for renewable energy companies, Obama’s bill “unlocked” the wind and solar power industries, which were “dead” before the Obama bill’s passage, Grunwald recounted.

The Obama climate bill “was also a huge deal for the smart grid, for electric vehicles,” Grunwald said, two other key components in reducing carbon emissions and slowing the process of climate change.