Yesterday, libertarian blogger Declan McCullagh, a senior correspondent for CBSNews.com, made the incendiary claim that the Obama administration was suppressing Treasury Department documents detailing the true cost of limiting greenhouse gases. After CBS published the story, “Obama Admin: Cap And Trade Could Cost Families $1,761 A Year,” Republicans claimed this was a startling admission, since it has officially estimated an average household cost in 2020 of $80 to $175. It turns out, however, that the $1,761 figure was constructed by McCullagh himself, not the administration, using a new form of economic analysis, Twitternomics:
Here’s one more math formula: McCullagh Twitternomics ≠ Obama Administration Analysis. Assistant Treasury Secretary Alan Krueger responded simply that the CBS “reporting” was “flat out wrong“:
The reporting on the Treasury analysis is flat out wrong. Treasury’s analysis is consistent with public analyses by the EIA, EPA, and CBO, and the reporting and blogging on this issue ignores the fact that the revenue raised from emission permits would be returned to consumers under both administration and legislative proposals. It is time for an honest debate about how to solve a long-term challenge and deliver comprehensive energy reform – not for misrepresentations of the facts.
In a follow-up piece, McCullagh quotes the response from Treasury, but somehow failed to include the lines where his reporting was called for being “flat out wrong” and using “misrepresentations of the facts.”
McCullagh is on the fringes of the right-wing Koch-Exxon pollution machine, writing for the Cato Institute (founded by David Koch and funded by ExxonMobil) and Reason Magazine (part of the Reason Foundation, funded by David Koch and ExxonMobil). Koch Industries’ revenue last year was estimated by Forbes to be $98 billion — in McCullagh’s Twitternomics, a tax on American families of $863. ExxonMobil’s record 2008 revenue was $442.85 billion — a McCullagh tax of $3,902.
McCullagh’s anti-government libertarianism sometimes reaches absurdities, as when he argued in 2004 that “Keynesian economists who believe in activist government intervention in the economy” were “fooled by the Soviet Union.” Further, McCullagh — who exaggerated his position at CBS — is an old hand at ascribing outlandish headlines to liberals that he actually made up himself. His real claim to fame is for establishing the false meme in 1999 that Al Gore made an “improvident boast” about inventing the Internet.
But none of this should come as a surprise, as McCullagh’s CBS blog is titled, appropriately, “Taking Liberties.”