Written by Brad Johnson and Daniel J. Weiss, a Senior Fellow and the Director of Climate Strategy at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
Last night, Glenn Beck accused President Obama of “outright lies,” engaging in a “coverup” of the cost of his green economic agenda. Beck claimed that “buried” Treasury documents from March show that the cost of a cap-and-trade carbon market to regulate global warming pollution is $1,761 per household per year, despite the president’s assurance to the American public in June that “the price to the average American will be about the same as a postage stamp per day“:
I have a question. Did the President of the United States tell the people in Congress about this? Facts are stubborn. Don’t they suck? It is always the coverup that gets you. March 9. June 25. Mr. President, did you tell Congress about prior estimates? That, you know, that you knew about? Or did you just kind of keep it secret and hide it away from them and those pesky American people? I want to show you something that I said a few weeks ago. I was talking directly to the Democrats. I was telling them wake up. “Democrats in Congress, wake up! You are being played and you’re being bypassed.”
In reality, Beck’s figure of $1,761 per household for the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) is not actually based on secret Treasury documents, but on the confabulation of a right-wing blogger at CBSNews.com. Although the Treasury Department has called this story “flat out wrong,” conservatives and the oil industry have heavily promoted this inflated number, much in the same way they wildly overestimated the number of Tea Party activists who attended the Glenn Beck rally in Washington, D.C. last weekend.
On June 19th, the Congressional Budget Office analyzed the ACES Act — legislation crafted by Congress, not by “czars” in the White House — and determined “that the net annual economywide cost of the cap-and-trade program in 2020 would be $22 billion—or about $175 per household.” Yesterday, the CBO — a Congressional research arm independent of the “spooky” executive branch — released an updated analysis that lowered its previous cost projection to “$160 per household.” In other words:
The average household would spend 44 cents per day – the price of a postage stamp.
The revised analysis also determined that the least well off Americans would receive a greater net benefit than its previous projections. “CBO estimates that households in the lowest income quintile in 2020 would see an average gain… [of] about $125” per household. By 2050, this net gain would increase to “$355 measured at 2010 income levels.”
A clean energy economy would enjoy massive growth, according the the CBO:
CBO projects that real (inflation-adjusted) GDP [Gross Domestic Product] will be roughly two and a half times as large in 2050 as it is today.
Investing in efforts to prevent catastrophic climate change, the CBO concluded, would reduce this GDP by as little as one cent per dollar. CBO concluded that the impact of the ACES Act on the overall economy would be “modest.” However, the CBO did not analyze elements of the legislation that would increase our energy independence and household savings further:
The analysis does not include the effects of other aspects of the bill, such as federal efforts to speed the development of new technologies and to increase energy efficiency by specifying standards or subsidizing energy-saving investments.
Glenn Beck is spinning a paranoid fantasy in which Democratic members of Congress are either puppets of — or conspirators with — an out-of-control, “racist” and “spooky” President. In the real world, the Congressional Budget Office has repeatedly found that a clean energy future can be ours for less than a (real) postage stamp a day.
BECK: You have what came out today, the outright lies coming out of the White House. I hate to call anybody a liar. You tell me. It’s the cap and trade energy bill. We want to thank our friend Chris Horner at CEI for pointing this out to us. Chris, watchdog, thank you very much. This is a document behind me. This is something that the Department of the Treasury did for the White House and the government, so, you know, they could be informed. I want you to take a look at the date. It’s March 9th, 2009. You remember that date. This is when the White House got this, and then it just lkinda was buried, lost. We had to get it through a Freedom of Information Act.
Look at the document, because in the document, it says “a cap and trade program could generate receipts on the order of $100 to $200 billion annually.” Wow, that’s a lot. In fact, it’s so much it’s the equivalent of hiking personal income taxes by about 15%. Huh. Bigger is always better. That’s $1,761 a year, per household, all of us, every one. Okay. That’s in March. March 9th, 2009, The Department of Treasury issues a report and says, “Here, Mr. President, boy, that looks like it is going to suck. It is going to cost $1,761.” Got it?
Now let’s fast forward to April 20th, 2009. March — April — I’m not very good with numbers and calendar stuff, because that’s complicated, because there are 12 whole months out of the year, but I think April comes after the report came out! Here is Henry Waxman, you know, from the Waxman-Markley [sic] energy bill. he said this —
“The cost of the bill that Mr. Markey and I proposed, this analysis says the bill will cost the average family less than 40 cents per day.”
You know, I’m not very good with numbers but I think $1,761 is more than 40 cents. I’m not a congressman. If you look at the Treasury estimates, Waxman is only underestimating the cost by 1200%. Now, let’s fast forward a little further. Listen to President Obama. Remember, March 9th, 2009, Department of the Treasury. Here’s their confidential analysis. “Dear Mr. President, it’s going to cost a lot of money.”
Let’s listen carefully to what President Obama estimated on June, June 25th.
“In a decade, the price to the average American will be about the same as a postage stamp per day.”
Wow. I think he just did it, too, 1200%, but he was a little more careful, you know. He did actually say, “in a decade from now.” He didn’t mention that today that stamp would cost $1,671! I’m just saying. He’s very accurate, because that’s the new stamp.
I have a question. Did the President of the United States tell the people in Congress about this? Facts are stubborn. Don’t they suck? It is always the coverup that gets you. Hah. March 9th. June 25th. Mr. President, did you tell Congress about the higher estimates? That, you know, that you knew about? Or did you just kind of keep it secret and hide it away from them and those, ha, pesky American people? I want to show you something that I said a few weeks ago. I was talking directly to the Democrats. I was telling them wake up. Democrats in Congress, wake up! You are being played and you’re being bypassed.
Look at all of the czars. I mean, what do you think they’re for? Look, they don’t answer to anybody. Look, the presidents have had czars for a long time. Woodrow Wilson, he was spooky. FDR, spooky with the czars! Some of the people, you know, they had a bunch of drinking buddies, you know like, oh, would you just make this guy go away? Fine. You want to put them in as special advisors and they don’t have any power, they don’t have any muscle. Wasn’t it Carol Browner who said that? Hey, I don’t ever want to see this in writing as she’s talking to the car dealers or the car companies, yeah, that kind of spooky power. If they have real power, it’s a problem. This guy, Woodrow Wilson, he was a progressive just like this president. He talked about, you know, ways to get things done by going around Congress.
Guess what? This is a progressive in the White House. That’s what he’s doing. He’s going right around Congress. When are you going to wake up, Congress?