At Least 11 Republicans In Congress Advance False Claim That Green Economy Bill Imposes $3,100 Tax On Families

Yesterday, the Wonk Room’s Ben Furnas noted that House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have been attacking a cap-and-trade proposal before Congress, falsely claiming that the measure would cost American families over $3,000 per year in extra taxes.

They base their claim on a 2007 MIT study. However, after interviewing one of the study’s researchers, MIT professor John Reilly, PolitiFact reported on Monday that the GOP claim is false, giving it a “pants on fire” rating on the website’s “Truth-O-Meter.” According to Reilly, the report actually finds that any tax burden resulting from the bill’s enactment wouldn’t be felt until 2015 — at $31 per person and $79 per family per year, not $3,100.

Regardless of the facts, at least nine other Republican members of Congress have made this false claim since PolitiFact’s report. However, some haven’t exactly nailed down the talking point. Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) said the tax would be levied on “every living American,” not tax-paying families, while Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) upped the tax to $4,560 per family. Watch the compilation:

Congressional Republicans haven’t been the only ones advancing this myth. As Fox News usually does with GOP talking points, the network ran with the false claim. Chief Washington correspondent Jim Angle reported last night that the MIT study says the price on taxpayers for the cap-and-trade measure “will be substantial.” He then quoted — without challenge — Gregg’s false claim:

GREGG: And their estimate is it will generate over, over $300 billion in new taxes every year. It works out to about $3,000 per household.

ANGLE: Some say less, some say more. And in states relying the most on coal, it could be a lot more.

Gregg continued to repeat the $3,000 false claim this afternoon on Fox, saying that “every time you turn on your light switch, you’re going to be paying a tax.”


Reilly told PolitiFact that some House Republicans had contacted him two weeks ago about the study but he “had explained why the estimate they had was probably incorrect and what they should do to correct it.” Clearly, the GOP did not take his advice and Reilly has now written a letter to Boehner and the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming to denounce the GOP’s distortion of his study.


MARCH 30 —

SEN JOHN THUNE (R-SD): In other words, President Obama’s cap-and-trade proposal is even more stringent than the one that was analyzed by researchers at MIT who concluded, again, it would cost the average household in this country over $3,100 per year.

SEN. JUDD GREGG (R-NH): Everybody living in America today who has an electric bill or other energy bills as a result of this new national sales tax — if the president gets what he wants — is going to pay $3,000 more in taxes a year, on average, for their energy bills.

MARCH 31 —

REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA): that entrepreneurial spirit is still out there but people don’t want to take it away by government literally coming in and trying to control all of these areas of our life [sic] with this cap and trade energy tax which would put a $600 billion tax on the production of energy in the United States, which would equate by most estimates to more than $3,000 per American family in higher energy costs.

SEN. MIKE JOHANNS (R-NE): Climate change legislation is really about tax policy. If you have a light switch in your home and you hit that light switch, you will be impacted by climate change legislation. In fact, we estimate that the average family will pay about $3,000 a year more as a result of climate change legislation. In my state, the state of Nebraska, farmers will pay about $40 to $80 an acre more to produce an acre of corn. Why? Because fertilizer costs go up as a result of this legislation.

REP. TODD AKIN (R-MO): Because what is this cap and tax? This is a tax on electricity and heating fuel, propane, natural gas, things like that. And what’s that going to mean? Well, some economists took a look at what they thought that was going to cost and this is a very credible organization, I believe it was MIT, I forget which university it was, their estimate was $3,100 for every household in America.

REP. CYNTHIA LUMMIS (R-WY): MIT as was referred to earlier by Mr. Henserling, estimates that the cost of a family of four, on a family of four would be $4,560.

SEN. SAM BROWNBACK (R-KS): And then there’s the talk of, well we’ll do cap and trade and we’ll have an energy tax. That’ll help pay for some of this and consumers might not pay it directly but they will certainly pay it at a rate of more than $3,000 per American family on an energy tax.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): At a time when many are struggling just to get by Democrats in Congress want to enact the largest tax increase in recent history, including a national energy tax that could cost every American household up to $3,100 a year.

SEN. JOHN ENSIGN (R-NV): A recent MIT study which modeled a national energy tax regime similar to President Obama’s budget proposal estimated that annual revenues as high as $366 billion that would come to the federal government. This equals tax increases of over $3,100 per family in the United States.