Equal weight? Wash. Post provides Heritage cap-and-trade cost estimate with EPA's, CBO's

››› ››› CHRISTINE SCHWEN

The Washington Post answered a question about the cost of the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill by providing estimates from the Environmental Protection Agency and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, as well as a much higher estimate from the Heritage Foundation. The Post did not explain why it gave equal weight to the Heritage estimate.

In The Washington Post's "Q and A on the Climate Bill," which appeared in the July 6 edition of the paper, the Post answered the question "What will all this change cost, and who will pay?" by providing estimates from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) -- but also included a much higher estimate from the "conservative think tank" the Heritage Foundation. The Post did not explain why the Heritage estimate warranted mention with the EPA and the nonpartisan CBO. Further, the Heritage estimate cited by the Post appears to come from an analysis of an older version of the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill and not the version currently being debated in the Senate.

In response to the question "What will all this change cost, and who will pay?" the Post noted that the EPA and the CBO both estimated that the bill would cost less than "50 cents per household per day," and then added:

According to the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, the cost would be much steeper: $11.78 per day in the coming decades. According to House Republicans, the costs would cripple the U.S. economy and drive American jobs to countries that do not have climate regulations.

However, the Heritage Foundation's estimate of $11.78 (or $4,300 per year) appears to come not from an analysis of the most recent version of the Waxman-Markey bill, but from an earlier Heritage assertion about the cost of cap-and-trade. Moreover, Heritage's own more recent estimate of cap-and-trade put the cost at $2,979 per year, which is 31 percent lower than the $4,300 per year estimate the Post used.

A May 15 blog post on Heritage's website stated that "when all the tax impacts have been added up, the average per-family-of-four costs rise by $4,300 per year." But in his June 22 testimony to the Senate Republican Conference, Heritage Foundation senior policy analyst Ben Lieberman stated: "If you look at the total cost of Waxman-Markey, it works out to an average of $2,979 annually from 2012-2035 for a household of four. By 2035 alone, the total cost is over $4,600." An annual cost of $2,979 would make Heritage's estimate $8.16 "per day in the coming decades" instead of $11.78 -- a 31 percent difference.

A July 1 blog post also used the "nearly $3,000 per year" estimate:

Time's article refers to groups whose cost estimates for the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade energy tax exceed $175 per family per year, or roughly what government number crunchers argue it would be. Heritage is one of those groups, but our estimate of nearly $3,000 per year per family of four is a much more truthful answer to the cost question than is $175.

From the Washington Post "Q and A on the Climate Bill":

What will all this change cost, and who will pay?

Less than 50 cents per household per day, according to estimates by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Congressional Budget Office. And that does not take into account benefits from avoiding hard-to-calculate costs associated with accelerating climate change.

According to the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, the cost would be much steeper: $11.78 per day in the coming decades. According to House Republicans, the costs would cripple the U.S. economy and drive American jobs to countries that do not have climate regulations.

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