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Friday, December 11, 2009

Cap and Trade + Jobs = Popular

Factory pollutionCap and trade is going to cost you a bazillion dollars annually -- maybe a kajillion. No one really knows. Back in April, House minority leader John Boehner took a wild stab at it and came up with a figure of $3,128 annually for the average household. That's right, people backing cap and trade think that adding three grand to your annual energy bill is a good idea that'll get them reelected. Hahaha! Let's all laugh at them.

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. S. 309’s emissions targets track the emissions targets outlined in Obama’s budget, which the Congressional Research Service has confirmed. 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 ($3,128 using current Census figures, a little less if you use projected Census figures from 2015). Now, this doesn’t even account for costs resulting from higher prices for food and all other products that will cost more to produce under their program.

Simple! Of course, Boehner had to admit to a little hitch in the GOP reasoning; "An MIT professor has questions about the $3,100 figure but his letter makes assumptions that are factually inaccurate." This was the MIT professor -- John Reilly -- who Boehner got his figures from in the first place. To dig up an old folk-saying, Boehner was trying to teach his grandmother to suck eggs.

What was the real figure? $85 dollars a year -- at it's most expensive point. What Boehner was doing was ignoring a simple fact; rebates. Greg Sargent wrote:

Brad Plumer noted that the GOP's arithmetic "brushes off the fact that most carbon revenue would be rebated back to consumers, and that certain conservation measures could help reduce energy bills. But the actual MIT study implies that the welfare cost would be around $31 per person in 2015, rising to an average of $85 per person per year -- not including the benefits of cleaner air and a habitable planet."

So Boehner was wrong -- completely and totally. In his defense, he wrote, "[W]e 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."

When your argument resorts to mindreading, it stops being an argument and starts being BS.

But eighty-five bucks a year is still money; about $7/month. This figure is important when you look at a McClatchy-Ipsos poll on the issue of cap and trade published earlier this week.

This poll shows that the majority aren't falling for the "Climategate" smear, with 70% believing that the world is warming and 61% believing that humans are the cause. But, more to this post's particular point, it shows that a majority support cap and trade -- even if it costs them money.

Asked, "What if a cap and trade program significantly lowered greenhouse gases but raised your monthly electrical bill by 10 dollars a month? In that case would you support or oppose it?" 50% supported it. The real cost is below ten dollars at its most expensive.

But add in economic benefits and the support increases dramatically. Asked, "What if a cap and trade program raised your monthly electrical bill by 10 dollars a month but also created a significant number of 'GREEN' jobs in the United States? In that case would you support or oppose it?" 69% said they'd support it.

And it's impossible to believe that cap and trade wouldn't come with the benefit of new jobs. We're talking about developing a new market, which would in turn create new industries and new technologies. That all means jobs. For seven bucks a month -- on its worst month.

I'm waiting to see how Boehner and the GOP will spin this one off into the realm of fantasy. I have no doubt they will.


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