Washington • To poke fun at a liberal plan to tackle climate change, Sen. Mike Lee on Tuesday took to the Senate floor with a poster of President Ronald Reagan riding a dinosaur while firing a machine gun.
The Utah Republican, a serious conservative not generally known for prop-supported political stunts, said his point was that the Democrats’ Green New Deal was as absurd as the poster he was showing.
“I rise today," Lee said, “to consider the Green New Deal with the seriousness it deserves.”
The GOP-led Senate took a vote on the package Tuesday afternoon in an attempt to put Democrats on the record about the Green New Deal ahead of the 2020 elections.
Democrats didn’t bite; four of them joined Republicans to oppose the measure while 43 Democrats voted present. It didn’t reach the 60-vote threshold to reach a final vote. Lee and Romney voted against the bill.
“I’m not immediately afraid of what the Green New Deal would do to our economy and our government,” Lee said. “Rather, after reading the Green New Deal, I’m mostly afraid of not being able to get through this speech with a straight face.”
“The aspirations of the proposal have been called radical. They have been called extreme,” Lee added. “But mostly they're ridiculous. There isn't a single serious idea here. Not one.”
The Green New Deal is essentially a wish list of actions to slash carbon emissions as well as expand the social net for those in need.
The proposals include guaranteeing a job at a living wage, with paid family and medical leave, vacation time and retirement security, health care for all, access to higher education and repairing or replacing aging roads, bridges and sewer systems. It also calls for making all energy consumed in the United States emission-free, adding new energy-efficient buildings and eliminating manufacturing that causes pollution.
Lee pointed out that his poster also included a rocket launcher strapped to Reagan’s back and a tattered American flag.
“Critics might quibble with this depiction of the climactic battle of the Cold War, because, while awesome, in real life there was no climactic battle. There was no battle with or without velociraptors,” Lee said. “The Cold War, as we all know, was won without firing a shot.”
The Utah senator added that point underscores his message “because this image has as much to do with overcoming communism in the 20th century as the Green New Deal has to do with overcoming climate change in the 21st.”
Lee offered up his own solution to climate change: babies.
“You know where the solution can be found, Mr. President?” Lee asked of the stand-in for the Senate president pro tem. “In churches, in wedding chapels, in maternity wards across the country and around the world. Mr. President, this is the real solution to climate change: babies.”
The planet, Lee added, “does not need us to think globally so much as think family and act personally. The solution to climate change is not this unserious resolution that we’re considering this week in the Senate but rather the serious business of human flourishing. The solution to so many of our problems at all times and in all places is to fall in love, get married and have some kids.”
Lee also used other posters to make fun of the Green New Deal, which had sought to decrease air travel because of its carbon emissions, noting that Alaskans could use the fictional “Star Wars” animals called tauntauns, which were ridden by humans on the planet Hoth and that Hawaiians could turn to the comic book hero Aquaman and his trusted seahorse to get to the mainland.
Freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat who is sponsoring the Green New Deal in the House, fired back at Lee in a tweet.
"Like many other women + working people, I occasionally suffer from impostor syndrome: those small moments, especially on hard days, where you wonder if the haters are right,” she wrote. “But then they do things like this to clear it right up. If this guy can be Senator, you can do anything.”
Ocasio-Cortez also tweeted about Lee's posters, noting they were paid for by taxpayers.
“GOP Senators are using their Congressional allowances to print Aquaman posters for themselves to argue that a #GreenNewDeal saving our nation from climate change is a ‘waste of money,'” she said, using an emoji that is laughing so hard, it is crying.