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MIT Professor Sets the Record Straight on Cap-and-Trade

I have made no secret of my objections to a proposed cap-and-trade energy tax that will result in increased costs for every single American. The tax would require energy producers and businesses to pay to emit carbon emissions in the hope of reducing greenhouse gases.  You, the consumer, would be footing the bill.

I published an op-ed in the Star Tribune earlier this month highlighting the dangers of this piece of legislation and what it means for Americans. In the piece, I cited an MIT study that found the average American household would experience increased bills of $3,128 per year if this legislation became law.

This statistic has drawn much criticism in the local news and around the nation because the MIT professor involved with the study, John Reilly, questioned the validity of the interpretation used by myself and many Republicans.

But in an interview with the Weekly Standard, Professor Reilly clarified his critique and accepted the Republican use of the statistic

As reported in the Weekly Standard, “MIT professor John Reilly admitted that his original estimate of cap and trade’s cost was inaccurate…’I made a boneheaded mistake in an excel spread sheet.  I have sent a new letter to Republicans correcting my error.’”

Interestingly, Professor Reilly also assumes that Washington’s better angels will prevail over its need for revenue to pay for its expensive spending habits. 

"Reilly assumes that the $3,128 will be 'returned' to each household. Without that assumption, Reilly wrote, 'the cost would then be the Republican estimate [$3,128] plus the cost I estimate [$800].'"

Reilly continued, "If the Republicans were to focus on that revenue, and their message was to rally the public to make sure all this money was returned in a check to each household rather than spent on other public services then I would have no problem with their use of our number.'"

I am more skeptical of Washington’s intentions and I believe that the 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.  Key Democrats – including President Obama and Senators Reid & Conrad – have even said they want to use cap-and-trade to fund their government-run health care plan.

The reality is, it's anybody's guess as to how the cap-and-trade revenues would end up getting spent. What we do know is that you’ll be paying them but it will be the government spending them -- not you -- and that's the problem.

I hope the press is just as quick and eager to correct the report that the GOP's estimate of cap-and-trade's cost is a "pants on fire" falsehood as they were in claiming it.

(Cross-posted at the Hill's Congress Blog)

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