If we've learned anything in recent weeks, it's that Rep. John Shimkus is not a reliable source on climate change science or energy legislation. Yet the Collinsville Republican keeps trying out new arguments to dissuade Americans from supporting common-sense environmental ...
If we've learned anything in recent weeks, it's that Rep. John Shimkus is not a reliable source on climate change science or energy legislation. Yet the Collinsville Republican keeps trying out new arguments to dissuade Americans from supporting common-sense environmental regulations. On Monday, he challenged 241 of his congressional colleagues serving in coal-producing districts to visit a mine or coal-fired power plant during their Easter recess to learn the effect cap-and-trade legislation would have on the industry. He also chatted with the folks at WGIL radio about the purported "hidden costs" such a bill would push onto taxpayers:
He says if Democrats are successful at passing the carbon tax proposal, individual homeowners could pay as much as $3,100 a year in additional taxes.
If you've heard that number before, it's because House Minority Leader John Boehner, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and nine other Republicans have used it to attack cap-and-trade in recent days. Unfortunately, the $3,100 figure is blatantly false, as Think Progress documented.
Shimkus and company got this number from a 2007 MIT report (PDF), which examined similar proposals to the one Barack Obama favors and concluded that a cap-and-trade bill would raise roughly $366 billion in revenue per year. Republicans then took that figure and crudely divided it by the number of households in America, getting approximately $3,100 per family. "It's just wrong," John Reilly, one of the authors of the report, told Politifact. "It's wrong in so many ways it's hard to begin."
What's the actual tax burden? The MIT professors found that a single filer would pay an additional $31 extra each year while a family would pay an extra $79. Also of note: These increases wouldn’t surface until 2015. And if the pollution permits are auctioned off and consumers receive rebates in return, low-income taxpayers wouldn't feel a thing, except a more secure planet. That's a far cry from Shimkus' "$3,100."
Worst of all, Reilly says a House Republican staffer at one point called him to clarify his research but neglected to use his answers. "I had explained why the estimate they had was probably incorrect and what they should do to correct it," he says, "but I think this wrong number was already floating around by that time."
This isn't the first time Shimkus has intentionally fudged numbers to protect carbon-intensive industries from regulation. While promoting their Energy VISION Act last summer, he and fellow GOP Rep. Peter Roskam grossly distorted the U.S Energy Information Agency's estimates of the amount of offshore oil.
It sure would be nice if the reporters at WGIL, the Illinois Radio Network, and other local outlets looked into his statements before reprinting them.