Pinocchio

So Republicans have been going around saying that Obama’s cap-and-trade program will cost every American household $3,128 a year.

Wait, did I say cap-and-trade program? I mean “light switch tax.” Because you’ll pay a tax every time you turn on your light! Get it?! And so comes the latest wet burp from the rotting corpse of the Gingrich Revolution: a “party of ideas” whose ideas are confined entirely to gimmicky neologisms for policies they oppose and to which they offer no alternatives.

Anyway, this farcical number is drawn from a 2007 MIT report called “Assessment of U.S. Cap-and-Trade Proposals” (PDF). Is it an accurate representation of the report’s conclusions? PolitiFact researcher Alexander Lane called one of the report’s authors and asked.

“It’s just wrong,” said John Reilly, an energy, environmental and agricultural economist at M.I.T. and one of the authors of the report. “It’s wrong in so many ways it’s hard to begin.”

Not only is it wrong, but he told the House Republicans it was wrong when they asked him.

“Someone from the House Republicans had called me (March 20) and asked about this,” Reilly said. “I had explained why the estimate they had was probably incorrect and what they should do to correct it, but I think this wrong number was already floating around by that time.”

What did the report actually say the impact on households would be?

It would be $30.89 per person in 2015, or $79 per family if you use the same average household size the Republicans used of 2.56 people.

That is, if you’re doing the math, a fortieth of what Republicans claimed.

Now, it feels a little silly to discuss this in a rational way when we’re talking about a House caucus whose members’ disregard for the truth borders on the sociopathic. But it’s worth adding that the MIT report — which isn’t even about Obama’s proposal — doesn’t take into account the payroll tax rebate that Obama’s proposal includes. It doesn’t take into account energy efficiency initiatives that would lower energy bills. It doesn’t take into account industries boosted or jobs created.

Even without that stuff accounted for, the impact on families is tiny. To make it seem otherwise Republicans just have to — knowingly, and with a truly self-parodic degree of chutzpah — lie.

The only way they can defeat this thing is to lie, outrageously and repeatedly. We’ll see if the media lets them get away with it. (Speaking of which, kudos to Politifact.)