Biden’s green legacy project imitates FDR, but duplicates what already exists
Joe Biden has big presidential dreams. He wants to be as consequential as LBJ, as monumental as FDR. In both instances, that would mean making government bigger. But like FDR, Biden wants to shore up his legacy-building dreams with a government-funded workforce dedicated to his designs.
And that’s how we get something called the Civilian Climate Corps, a new take on a New Deal program created during the Great Depression. It sounds properly nostalgic, and maybe even useful:
The Civilian Climate Corps, as it would be called, would employ thousands of young people to address the threat of climate change, strengthen the country’s natural defenses and maintain its ailing public lands.
“Just like we need a unified national response to COVID-19, we need a unified national response to climate change,” Biden said while introducing his climate team.
While his is not the first effort to bring back a federal conservation corps, Biden has put the program center stage like never before. One of his first executive orders called for the creation of a modern CCC to “mobilize the next generation of conservation and resilience workers and maximize the creation of accessible training opportunities and good jobs.” His interior secretary, Deb Haaland, sponsored a bill with a similar goal while representing New Mexico in Congress.
In the broader conservation community, there’s a belief that the proposal could attract bipartisan support, buoyed by a mix of nostalgia and need.
Not so fast. As the Wall Street Journal notes, this new CCC would be doing far more than just trail repairs. Under a joint proposal from Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez:
Another Climate Corps option is to become a “clean energy educator.” Some recruits could design posters to encourage climate-friendly behavior, and Ms. Sciales says other jobs “could include things like caring for the elderly, community, and childhood education, building community structures to bring communities together, and in the process talk to people about limiting carbon emissions in their communities.” Brace yourself for teach-ins on the sins of meat eating and natural-gas stoves.
Under the AOC-Markey bill, Climate Corps enrollees would earn at least $15 an hour. They’d also get health coverage, “child care services, counseling services, and other supportive services when needed.” Oh, and education grants of $25,000 a year. Eighty House and Senate Democrats said in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer last week that the Climate Corps “must provide a pathway to good jobs, and especially union jobs.”
Interesting that the federal government is pushing this sort of jobs/political activism program when private employers complain they can’t find workers. And never mind that the government already has several “volunteer” programs in place that gives workers stipends, education assistance and more.
Those are neat…but they just don’t have the FDR-like legacy overtones of “CCC” Mr. Biden, and too many others in government, seem to crave.