The video above pits Henry Waxman against Newt Gingrich is straight-up, no-holds-barred, citation warfare. (There are moments when I wish this blog had music, or at least exciting sound effects). The primary point of contention is a number you're hearing a lot these days: $3,128. That's the supposed yearly cost that cap and trade will impose on every American. The number's pedigree is pretty good, too. It's from MIT.
The problem is that it isn't true. The author of that study, MIT scientist John Reilly, has now sent multiple letters to John Boehner begging him to ask his troops to stop distorting Reilly's science. The $3,128 estimate, he says, is "nearly 10 times the correct estimate, which is approximately $340."
But as Brian Beutler neatly documents, Reilly isn't the only one seeing his estimates butchered. Studies from the Wharton School of Economics and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities are also getting ground up and twisted out. As the old line goes, good arguments don't need a lot of lies told about them to succeed. The Republican argument on cap and trade is assumed to be pretty good -- it'll raise your energy prices! -- but doesn't seem to have left the Republican leadership particularly confident. After all, every dollar cap and trade raises is a dollar that can be rebated to consumers, making the system either neutral for individuals or genuinely progressive. And that's probably what will happen. But that's harder to oppose. So we're getting a lot of lies.
Sadly, the truth just isn't that exciting. An EPA study examining the House cap and trade proposal concluded that the legislation would cost U.S. households around $98 to $140 per year between now and 2050. It's sensible stuff. That may be why, a couple years ago, one observer commented, "I think if you have mandatory carbon caps combined with a trading system, much like we did with sulfur, and if you have a tax-incentive program for investing in the solutions, that there's a package there that's very, very good. And frankly, it's something I would strongly support."
That observer? Newt Gingrich.