The U.S. government took decisive action and spent trillions of dollars to bail out Wall Street banks in the midst of the 2008 financial crisis, but it has refused to do the same to rescue the planet from climate catastrophe—a fact Sen. Bernie Sanders highlighted in a pithy tweet on Friday.
"If the environment were a bank," wrote the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, "it would have been saved already."
If the environment were a bank it would have been saved already.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) August 30, 2019
Estimates of the size of the Wall Street bailout vary widely. When Federal Reserve loans are included in the bailout figures, some estimates put the total number as high as $29 trillion.
Sanders' Green New Deal plan, which the senator released last week, would aim to invest $16.3 trillion in a decade-long effort to transition the U.S. economy to 100 percent renewable energy and create 20 million well-paying union jobs.
According to the Sanders campaign, the proposal would "pay for itself over 15 years" by hiking taxes on the rich and large corporations, slashing military spending, and boosting economic activity with massive public investment.
On top of the human costs of climate inaction, the economic toll would be "unacceptable," the Sanders campaign notes in its Green New Deal platform.
"Economists estimate that if we do not take action, we will lose $34.5 trillion in economic activity by the end of the century," the platform states. "And the benefits are enormous: by taking bold and decisive action, we will save $2.9 trillion over 10 years, $21 trillion over 30 years, and $70.4 trillion over 80 years."