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FDR's New Deal faced similar backlash as Green New Deal, historian says

The inspiration behind the Green New Deal
The inspiration behind the Green New Deal 12:11

A historian believes the backlash provoked by U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Green New Deal bears resemblance to the opposition President Franklin Roosevelt faced when he implemented his sweeping New Deal economic and labor reforms during the Great Depression. "FDR faced exactly the kinds of criticisms and challenges that the Green New Deal faces today," historian and author Steve Fraser told CBSN's Elaine Quijano on "Red & Blue" Wednesday. 

Although the Green New Deal appeares to have garnered significant support within the Democratic ranks — including some high-profile 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls — Republicans have branded the proposal a fringe policy goal and many centrist Democrats have not backed the initiative.     

But Fraser said the opposition is expected given the bold nature of the proposal, noting that the New Deal agenda faced similar accusations. 

"One, that the kind of government intervention and government spending that Roosevelt recommended would bankrupt the economy and bankrupt the government, which is the accusation being leveled against the Green New Deal," Fraser said. "The second criticism was that it was too radical. That it was socialist. And we heard the president the other day describe this socialist threat to the country. FDR faced both of those kinds of accusations. The new deal faced them. And in both cases, they turned out to be wrong."  

The Green New Deal includes broad progressive policy goals aimed a transforming the American economy by ending its dependence on fossil fuels and investing heavily in renewable energy like solar and wind. The bill's authors hope it will spark new large-scale job creation.  

Fraser said the Green New Deal, like the New Deal in its time, could help the Democratic Party attract working-class voters into its electoral coalition. The key, he added, is for the U.S. government to play a major role in sponsoring large infrastructure projects designed to mitigate climate change.  

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