Obama’s Cap and Trade Costs vs. GOP’s Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

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The quote (lies, damned lies and statistics) is from 1840’s British statesman Benjamin Disraeli, but the political scene remains unchanged 170 years later. The Republicans would have you believe that President Barack Obama’s proposed cap-and-trade emissions plan will cost the average American family $3,000 a year if implemented.

If, as they say, a lie oft repeated becomes the truth, Fox News, CNN, Politifact and Roll Call are clearly in the business of “retruthing” the administration’s cap-and-trade proposals by parroting the GOP’s lie. Shamelessly, in fact, since none of the above-mentioned media sources (or their reporters) even bothered to question the figures presented them like so much frosting on a truly toxic fossil-fuel cake. 

One would expect nothing less (or more?) from Faux News, whose worship of all things elephantine put a Teflon finish on the Bush administration, but CNN? Come on, Ted Barrett, we know you can do better. In fact, the other Ted (Turner, billionaire founder of CNN) has already come out in support of alternative energy technologies supported by the Dems.

Roll Call, Capitol Hill’s insider rag, remained famously unbiased until it was scooped up by the Economist Group in 1992, so ‘nuff said there, but we would still expect fledging CongressNow reporter Jay Heflin to ask questions instead of quoting Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) verbatim when Cornyn says Obama’s plan is a “light switch tax” that will cost American families $3,128 per year. Cornyn is from Texas, the “burn, baby, burn” state of fossil fuel production; Heflin, a journalist, should have a wider perspective.
 
The truth about the plan, according to Professor John Reilly, one of the authors of the much misquoted and miscalculated cap-and-trade study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), is that the figures are inflated by a factor of ten. The real cost to Americans? More like $340, and that doesn’t even account for an emissions reduction threshold reached (or passed) by 2050, or the fact that all dollar calculations are made at today’s dollar value.

The GOP, a bunch of miscreant recalcitrants shamed by Bush administration antics into a bully pulpit for gas and oil, prefer the numbers in their infamous March 23 “Talking Points” press release. And PolitiFact.com, which bills itself as “sorting out the truth in politics”, simply took the press release and ran with it by charging Obama with paying for his health care reform through that aforementioned light switch tax. 

As a reporter, I’ll grant you it’s easier to copy and paste than do the research. It’s also more profitable, in terms of word output. But when did the Fourth Estate, charged with keeping the people honestly informed – and thus guaranteeing healthy democracy – become shills for the power brokers?

Alex Knott knows, and the almost $13 billion spent every year by these special interest groups has tipped the balance in favor of copy and paste because anything else is foolhardy if one wants to remain gainfully employed, as Fox News reporter Eric Shawn knows. Why else would he prompt Congressman Tom Price (R – GA) to repeat the GOP’s figures like a trained ventriloquist’s dummy without asking a few questions of his (Shawn’s) own?

Shawn, we forgive you because of extenuating circumstances, but get a real job. One that you actually know how to do. The rest of you? Stop drinking the GOP Koolaid and wake up to smell the coffee along with your morning ration of air pollution. Cleaner air and water will cost us, but the cost of not acting is even greater. Have you ever tried to breathe underwater, or through a hazmat face mask?

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