Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Some Republican lawmakers invoke hamburgers as a symbol of opposition to proposed Green New Deal

Congressional Republicans have employed a curious symbol in their rhetoric opposing the Green New Deal: the hamburger.

Because the non-binding House resolution calls for lower greenhouse gas emissions, and livestock are a significant source of methane, many Republican lawmakers have made it out to be an anti-beef campaign, Dino Grandoni writes for The Washington Post. The aim seems to be to appeal to farmers, ranchers, and the middle-class Americans who are most likely to eat fast food.

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), who chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee, said in a speech last month that, if the resolution passed, "American favorites like cheeseburgers and milkshakes would become a thing of the past. Millions of American workers will lose their jobs."

The resolution, proposed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), doesn't specify how lawmakers should reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. "The rhetoric is among the latest instances of those on the political right fixating on Ocasio-Cortez as they search for a winning message in 2020 by casting the Green New Deal as a socialist fantasy," Grandoni writes. "Every Democratic senator running for president has so far supported the freshman representative's climate resolution."

The hamburger strategy was triggered by an erroneous fact sheet Ocasio-Cortez's office published, then quickly withdrew, that wryly said "We set a goal to get to net-zero, rather than zero emissions, in 10 years because we aren’t sure that we’ll be able to fully get rid of farting cows and airplanes that fast." Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee made fun of the line in a Feb. 7 tweet: "Democrat 2020 message: Elect us. We'll let caravans of MS-13 gang members come right in our open borders, but we'll stop cow farts! Sounds like a winning strategy. I think @realDonaldTrump will be reelected."

In an interview last week, Ocasio-Cortez said the resolution isn't meant to end agriculture or force people to stop eating meat, but rather to address factory farming, Grandoni reports.

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