Firing Blanks in Response to FOIA

by Iain Murray on September 17, 2009

As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, CEI has used the Freedom of Information Act to find out what the administration thought its proposal to introduce cap-and-trade would cost the economy. CBSNews’s Declan McCullagh can fill you in on the details:

A previously unreleased analysis prepared by the U.S. Department of Treasury says the total in new taxes would be between $100 billion to $200 billion a year. At the upper end of the administration’s estimate, the cost per American household would be an extra $1,761 a year.

A second memorandum, which was prepared for Obama’s transition team after the November election, says this about climate change policies: “Economic costs will likely be on the order of 1 percent of GDP, making them equal in scale to all existing environmental regulation.”

Politico’s Ben Smith posted a story on this, to be greeted by an angry harrumph from the League of Conservation Voters:

Specifically, the original White House plan had 100% of emissions permits being distributed by auction; the plan that passed has just 15%.  “Can you say ‘irrelevant analysis’? It would be like pricing the health care bills currently in front of Congress based on a single-payer system,” he writes.

Well, CEI never said that the documents refer to the cost of cap and trade as it passed the House (for the record, the 15% is a bait-and-switch payoff to industry, with the percentage moving to 100% over a number of years), but the figure accurately reflects the likely cost of the president’s proposal, which is, amazingly enough, also the actual position of none other than the League of Conservation Voters:

By embracing a mandatory cap-and-trade program, the Obama energy plan would provide incentives to cut production of carbon dioxide and other pollutants that cause global warming.  In addition, because this program is a 100% auction, this system will generate significant revenues for reinvestment in job-creating, clean energy industries.

So what’s going on here? Is the LCV now fully behind the 15% plan? Or is it annoyed that it has been established that its favored 100% plan is actually just as expensive as everyone now realizes it is?

Oh, and the LCV spokesman added the “postage stamp” canard (the idea that the cost of cap and trade will be less than a postage stamp a day). That only works if you deposit your postage stamp cost in a guaranteed interest account today and withdraw it when the bill comes due in 2020, and even then it will only pay for the real cost, not the nominal cost (see here for a full analysis of the postage stamp claim). One thing even the current bill will not cost is just “a postage stamp a day per household . . . in 2020.”

But the real problem with the postage stamp claim is that even that figure is more than people are willing to pay. Polls show that only 10% are willing to pay more than $100 a year for cap and trade. That’s considerably less than a postage stamp a day.

Even the LCV’s Doublethink won’t get it past that one.

Of course, even the basic premise of the “irrelevance” argument can’t stand when the Administration is still projecting massive revenues (p33) as a result of cap-and-trade.

Meanwhile, how does the Huffington Post repsond?  EXXXXXOOOOOONNNNNN!!!!

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