Brent Woodcox & NCGOP Perpetuate Big Fat Lie

Brent Woodcox, mouthpiece for the NCGOP, has reprinted an RNC press release with a big fat whopper enclosed. House and Senate Republicans are claiming cap-and-trade will mean a $3100 tax to a family of 2.56 people. They claim to be quoting an MIT study.

To be clear, Brent didn't make up the lie. Instead, he printed it apparently without an edit.

The NRCC put out a press release this afternoon asking if Larry Kissell will raise energy costs for struggling North Carolinians...

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Will Larry Kissell Support Devastating Energy Tax?
North Carolina Families Would Suffer from Skyrocketing Home Heating Costs Under “Cap-and-Tax”

Washington- Despite Democrats’ promises to deliver tax relief to families who need it the most, the recent budget proposal from the White House includes a “cap-and-trade” provision that should more appropriately be named the “cap-and-tax” provision, because if it became law it would raise energy taxes on every single person who flips on a light switch. As Congress takes the President’s federal budget under consideration, North Carolina families deserve to know if Rep. Larry Kissell (D-NC) would support such a devastating energy tax proposal.

:::

Families in North Carolina would be even more drastically affected, as so many families’ homes are heated with expensive fuels: MIT researchers released an “Assessment of U.S. Cap-and-Trade Proposals,” which shows that the increase would be an increase of more than $3,000 a year for each household. (A Report of the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Climate Change; Assessment of U.S. Cap and Trade Proposals; http://web.mit.edu/globalchange/www/MITJPSPGC_Rpt146.pdf.)

Shame on you, Brent. Now, maybe you weren't aware that your party leaders were lying through their teeth. Maybe you're just a copy and paste kinda guy. Maybe you honestly think $340 is equal to $3100. I don't know. I think most of the people in your party are that stupid, Brent, but I thought you had at least an ounce of sense.

For those of you who haven't heard Boehner bloviating about this phony $3000 tax supposedly created by cap-and-trade, you can get your fill of Congressional Republicans in this video:

Oh, don't they think they're so smart quoting MIT. The only problem is, they failed to actually read the report they are quoting. Think Progress brings us the other side of the story.

Today, Professor Reilly sent a forceful letter[full text] to Boehner and the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming to denounce this blatant distortion being told by Congressional Republicans. Reilly noted that $3,100 was actually “10 times the correct estimate which is approximately $340″ and that the costs on lower and middle income households can be “completely offset by returning allowance revenue to these households”:

It has come to my attention that an analysis we conducted examining proposals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Report No., 146, Assessment of U.S. Cap-and-Trade Proposals, has been misrepresented in recent press releases distributed by the National Republican Congressional Committee. The press release claims our report estimates an average cost per family of a carbon cap and trade program that would meet targets now being discussed in Congress to be over $3,000, but that is nearly 10 times the correct estimate which is approximately $340. […] Our Report 160 shows that the costs on lower and middle income households can be completely offset by returning allowance revenue to these households.

Professor Reilly goes on to say that he had actually spoken with House Republicans back on March 20th and let them know their number was incorrect. From Politicfact:

“It’s just wrong. It’s wrong in so many ways it’s hard to begin.”” […]

“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.”

They had time to make a correction. They've known for almost two weeks that their numbers were wrong. This leads us to only one conclusion. House and Senate Republicans are willfully lying to the American people. Big surprise, right? The RNC is willfully choosing to spread that lie through press releases sent out to state parties and now the NCGOP is choosing to spread that lie throughout North Carolina by printing that press release in its entirety without commentary to correct the lie.

Since Brent and the NCGOP won't correct the lie, I'll post a couple of pretty good explanations of how this lie got started and you can decide which one works best. First, Think Progress thinks it is a problem with math:

House Republicans apparently took the total revenues from the hypothetical cap and trade system that MIT analyzed and crudely divided it by the number of households in America, getting approximately $3,100 per family.

What they don’t mention, however, is that not only did John Reilly explicitly tell them that this was an inappropriate way to do this calculation, but that MIT had determined the net welfare effect on a typical family and the burden would be less than 1/40th what they claim, and wouldn’t occur until 2015.

As PolitiFact explains: “The report did include an estimate of the net cost to individuals, called the “welfare” cost. 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.” In exchange, we’d get a clean & renewable energy economy, decreased reliance on oil, and a safer climate for the world.

The reason Boehner’s methodology is totally inappropriate?

“That’s just not how economists calculate the cost of a tax proposal, Reilly said. The tax might push the price of carbon-based fuels up a bit, but other results of a cap-and-trade program, such as increased conservation and more competition from other fuel sources, would put downward pressure on prices. Moreover, consumers would get some of the tax back from the government in some form. [In this case,President Obama wants to use revenues from cap-and-trade to fund a tax cut for 95% of working families]”

Oh.How.Embarrassing.

The second explanation of what has happened comes to us from Pete Altman from Natural Resources Defense Center. He says it started with a bullet point in a memo sent around by notorious climate change denier, Senator Jim Inhofe who referenced the MIT study. Altman found a chart that references a disbursement of $3100 in the report.

We know how confused Republicans get when they look at numbers. These are, after all, the same Republicans who put together a budget that had no numbers in it....just words and pictures. It isn't a leap to see how they might also confuse the terms, "disbursement" and "tax." If they can't count, they probably aren't all that good with reading or reading comprehension either.

Putzes. Putzes. Putzes and liars.

Comments

Talking Points Memo is going with the math explanation

You can find their write-up here.

That brings us to yesterday. Now, Reilly can't say for certain that word ever went out from the woman who called him to party leaders letting them know they'd gotten the math badly wrong. It's possible, according to Reilly, that "she didn't find the speaker she wanted so she went about her work." At the same time, he adds, "they could certainly have called us at any time and checked their facts." But, of course, they didn't.

I did read the study. Won't claim to understand all of it, but it very clearly explains what the term disbursement means on page 24.

Bad math or willfully misinterpreting the chart...don't know which is worse.



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At best

it's a blatant disregard for truth. But that's not surprise ... it's standard operating procedure for a party that still thinks Bush's War in Iraq was justified by an imminent threat.

McCongressman McHenry

I think this little fellow McHenry is small not just in stature, but even more so in integrity and ideas.

That is why I believe he is really a McCongressman.

Quit drinking the Kool-Aid

I downloaded a copy of the report. There is no explanation of "disbursement" in the document. The word is used twice, once on page 24 as previously noted and once in the table. There is no definition. It is very clear that if you do the math, $3100 is the amount you get by dividing the tax revenue in 2035 of $286B by the population of 369M and multiplying by 4. That has to mean the 369M people are paying increased taxes on energy of $286B. There is no other explanation for that calculation. And that is at the low end of the BMT reduction. You can then obfuscate by not clearly stating that some families will have money sent to them from these revenues to offset the higher cost. I don't get it. Energy producers are not going to pay these taxes. Their consumers will. That's you and me, folks.

"A point in every direction is the same as no point at all" - Pointless Man

I'm glad you could read the report

Too bad you couldn't read the post that went with it.

The originators of the report went to great lengths to set the record straight on the Republican misinterpretation of the data. But since that didn't serve the interests of the drill-baby-drill crowd, they didn't bother to correct their errors.

Piper, read more carefully

The report states:

Table 6 also shows the potential tax disbursement to a family-of-four household each year.

By saying that the disbursement is going "to" a family-of-four I think even a dimwit would agree that the meaning of disbursement is clearly saying something is going to the family and not coming from the family. The context in which the word is used is very clear. I didn't say the word was defined in the study, just explained. Of course, I can always be more clear.

Now, I understand you want to define for the author of the study what he meant, but I simply don't think you're qualified. You've oversimplified a very complex equation.

When you do your taxes, do you pay your stated tax bill or do you apply your deductions first? This is a similar situation. Yes there is a cost, but there will be offsets to this cost - offsets that we can't necessarily put a price on.



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My math

So my math, which confirms the report's math, is oversimplification? You cannot be reading the same report data table that I am. It states:

As can be seen from Table 6 the potential revenue streams are substantial, ranging in just the first period of the policy from $130 billion in the 287 bmt case to $366 billion in the 167 bmt case.... Table 6 also shows the potential tax disbursement to a family-of-four household each year. For this purpose we have simply divided the population by 4 as if the population were divided into four-person households and then divided the total revenue by this artificially constructed number of households.

So let me do the math. revenue/population/households = revenue received by the federal government per household That is not simplified. Deductions for what? The government is going to decide who is too poor for this tax and take it from those who are too wealthy. Is this really where you want to take this?

"A point in every direction is the same as no point at all" - Pointless Man

I read the post

Okay, make this a teachable moment. I read the post, that was why I commented. Show me where the posted statements directly reference report data. All I see a numbers that purport to show a different conclusion. I'd just like to understand how they tie to the report data. Also, the Professor says that he was contacted by the Republicans but all he can share is that some woman spoke to him. Some woman, what woman? In what roll did she call? Pretty weak defense.

Also, I read the Prof's letter. Did you see that little adjustment that he calls the welfare level? That is how he comes to the $340 figure. That plus Present Value of Money adjustments. The Republicans are not lying. They are exposing this plan. Peeling off the levels of deceit being presented. There is no face value summary to read. It has all become spin. Just this time, the Dems are hiding the truth. Call that what you want.

"A point in every direction is the same as no point at all" - Pointless Man

She called to invite him to testify before congress

When he told her that he supported cap-and-trade she didn't advance the conversation.

Here's the deal - If the Republicans aren't lying, they're incapable of reading and understanding a report that really isn't all that sophisticated. They put forth a budget with no numbers. These aren't people who should be helping to run this country. They shouldn't even be allowed to balance their own check books.

Also, if you watch the video you will repeatedly see them claim they get their figures from MIT. There is also a visual of Senator Inhofe's graphic floating around the web. I've liked to the post that shows it somewhere.

The Republicans are lying about the numbers they are getting from the MIT report and what those numbers mean.



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Actually, this is a pretty weak defense of your argument:

Some woman, what woman? In what roll did she call?

If you were arguing that Republicans were acting in good faith but had published an erroneous summary of the report because they didn't get the message in time, this might work. But you're not arguing that, you're arguing that their analysis of the report was correct. Even though the MIT professor (who has intricate knowledge of such) said they were wrong and explained how and why.

By the way, the word is, "role", unless she's got a Poppin' Fresh telephone. Which...would be awesome, actually, but I don't think they make them.

And this is merely foolish stumbling into a debate pothole:

Peeling off the levels of deceit being presented.

Um, if the report that was presented by MIT was "deceitful", then that whole $3,100 thing was based on nothing. If the report was/is trustworthy, then the brains behind the report are also trustworthy (see Professor Reilly). You can't eat a big slice of cake while going, "Mmmm. Cake.", and then throw the rest of the cake away saying, "That tastes like crap."

Okay, you can do that, but you look like a fucking fool when you do it.

Deceit

I did not mean to say that the report was deceitful. The Prof's claim's are. He is defending by using expectations of a certain fiscal policy that he thinks will be enacted, namely using transfer payments. The revenue has to come from consumers. Why can't you agree on that? The deceitful point is who will end up paying the revenue to the Federal government. The foolish part of cap and trade is that it will not reduce emissions until the burden of taxation is so high that consumers will have to make choices. Those choices may first come from spending areas that have nothing to do with energy. So those aspects of the economy will be impacted first. I will go out to eat less often, I will buy less clothing, I will go to fewer movies, I will buy fewer on demand movies, I will go to fewer baseball games. But I will still drive to work every day, my house will be cool in summer and warm in winter.

I do like the idea of a Poppin Fresh phone but would prefer that you leave the foul language for your family.

"A point in every direction is the same as no point at all" - Pointless Man

Piper...that's not being deceitful

The professor's methodology is transparent. Don't you get that this report wasn't written yesterday? It was written two years ago. It says so on the front page of the report. Republican Senator Jim Inhofe quoted the report in a memo that he sent around to other Republicans on the Hill. Boehner and others used the report, not the Obama administration. They misquoted the report and even after being corrected by the report's author they continue to spread the BS.

Neither the professor nor the Obama administration has tried to make a connection between the President's plan and the professor's study. It was the Republicans who brought the study to our attention.

Your math is oversimplified and I"m not saying that, the report's author is saying that. Just because a bunch of numbers are grouped together in a table doesn't mean you can use them in any way you like to prove a random point. Your methodology has to make sense. Simple addition, subtraction and division may be all your capable of and your equation may balance, but that doesn't mean you've proven your point. It simply means you can add, subtract and divide.



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Transparent

OK, let's try this one more time. Show me where in the report that the Professor authored in 2007, where he states that the cost per family is $340 per year. It is not in there. That's not transparency, that's invisibility. Just reference the page number for me. If you can do that, you win the day. The Professor is using assumptions about government fiscal policy not yet defined and not in the report to come up with his figure. The report, taken on its own, without other assumptions, stands up to the $3100 figure for 2035. And that is the Professor's on chart.

"A point in every direction is the same as no point at all" - Pointless Man

The Nitty of the Gritty

Think Progress:

...at least 11 Republican members of Congress have advanced the false claim that a cap-and-trade proposal currently before Congress would cost American families over $3,000 in extra energy taxes per year. They base their claim on a 2007 MIT study. In fact, that study actually says any tax burden would be about one-fortieth of what the Republicans claim."
[...]
"John Reilly, an MIT professor and one of the researchers who worked on the 2007 study the Republicans are citing, said that some House conservatives had contacted him two weeks ago about the study. He said he “explained why the estimate they had was probably incorrect and what they should do to correct it.” In fact, Reilly has now written a letter to House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) — who has himself made the false claim — to denounce the GOP’s distortion of his study."

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