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‘Green’ Is the New Republican Dirty Word

On Wednesday, the Republican presidential candidates came up with colorful nicknames for the Inflation Reduction Act.

Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Our condolences to “woke.” It appears that Republicans have a new favorite boogeyman buzzword this election season: “green.” The word was on every Republican presidential hopeful’s lips on Wednesday, both at CNN’s debate in Iowa between Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, and at former President Donald Trump’s competing town hall on Fox News.

To start, DeSantis reiterated his promise to reverse President Biden’s clean energy policy – without, of course, actually calling it by its real name. After explaining that energy independence is “good to reduce inflation,” DeSantis continued, “So we’ll do that on day one and we’re going to reverse Biden’s Green New Deal and the electric vehicle mandates.” DeSantis is of course facetiously referring to the Inflation Reduction Act here — Biden has not supported the actual Green New Deal as proposed in a resolution by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Edward Markey in 2019.

It’s also not the first time DeSantis has made this particular reference. The Florida governor, who once said that “humans contribute to what goes on around us” while running for governor in Florida in 2018, promised that he’d be “taking all the Biden regulations, the Green New Deal, ripping it up and throwing it in the trash can where it belongs,” at November’s primary debate. DeSantis’s environmental flip-flopping has not gone unnoticed by his opponents – least of all Haley, who called out DeSantis’s pledge to ban fracking during Wednesday’s debate, as she did in September and November as well.

Haley took her own stab at Biden’s energy policy shortly after DeSantis at Wednesday’s debate. Biden’s “green subsidies” caught a stray during Haley’s answer to a question about funding Ukraine and Israel during their respective ongoing wars. “Supporting Ukraine is 3.5% of our budget,” Haley said. “If we support Ukraine and Israel, that's only 5% of our defense budget [...] If we support Ukraine, Israel, and secure the border, that's less than 20% of Biden's green subsidies. You do not have to choose when it comes to national security."

For his part, Trump trotted out a predictably insane “green” reference during his live town hall on Fox News. While answering a question about contributing to the national debt during his term, Trump said, “You had to inject money. … If I didn’t do that, you would have had a depression in this country.” He continued, “That was a very good investment. And now what they should be doing instead of the kind of debt that they’re building at record levels, they should be paying down their debt and they ought to go into the energy business instead of this green new scam business that they’re in.”

It’s perhaps redundant to note that at no point during the fifth Republican presidential debate or Trump’s town hall was the Inflation Reduction Act mentioned by name. We’ll have to tune into the next debate (January 18 in New Hampshire) to find out if the green verbal tic holds up.

Charu Sinha profile image

Charu Sinha

Charu Sinha is the audience editor at Heatmap. She was previously a news writer at Vulture, where she covered arts and culture. She has also written for Netflix, iHeartMedia, and NPR.

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