Boehner: We’re Right, MIT Scientist Is Wrong

Yesterday, John Boehner’s office told us Republicans would be standing by their claim that cap and trade legislation would cost American households an average of $3,128 a year–even though John Reilly, the scientist upon whose study they based that estimate, told them their calculations were wildly off.

Now Boehner’s made it official by releasing a “Leader Alert” explaining their fuzzy logic.

How do Republicans arrive at the $3,100 dollar figure? It’s pretty simple. We took MIT’s own estimate of a key “cap-and-trade” bill from the 110th Congress (S. 309) cosponsored by then-Senator Obama that said S. 309 would generate $366 billion in revenues in 2015…. We took MIT’s own number – $366 billion – and divided that by the number of U.S. households (we assumed 300 million people and an average household size of 2.56 people…which is 117 million households). Using this formula, you get roughly $3,000 per household….

An MIT professor has questions about the $3,100 figure but his letter makes assumptions that are factually inaccurate. Moreover, he claims “government rebates to consumers” must be factored in. But we all know that Democrats have no intention of using a cap-and-trade system to deliver rebates to consumers; they want the tax revenue to fund more government spending. Key Democrats – including Senators Reid & Conrad – have even said they want to use cap-and-trade to fund their bureaucrat-controlled health care plan. In fact, nothing in the Democrats’ budget would provide rebates or any relief to consumers.


Except, of course, that Reilly’s objections were farther reaching than that, and included not just the idea that increased costs will be somewhat offset by rebates, but that consumers will respond to higher energy prices by being more efficient and reducing consumption and that alternative fuels will become cheaper and so on. In other words, their methodology is flawed even if you grant them the assumption that the government will rebate $0 to consumers.

Additionally, the Republicans could have mentioned that Kent Conrad is deeply opposed to using the budget reconciliation process to pass major reform legislation, or that Harry Reid all but squelched the idea of funding a universal health care system with cap and trade revenue.

And they might have noted that a budget resolution isn’t legislation that can provide consumer relief, but that the Senate did amend their budget to provide that future cap-and-trade legislation would not result in added costs to consumers.

Other than that though, this is spot on.

Late update: Via ThinkProgress, the group Republicans for Environmental Protection says the House GOP’s tactics are “designed to score political points and gain headlines [and] are a disservice to American citizens.”