Media Monitor Susan flags a segment from this afternoon's coverage on MSNBC. In it, Congressman Mike Pence (R-Ind.) appeared, holding forth with Andrea Mitchell on his objections to cap and trade legislation. I honestly don't know where Mitchell's head was at, but Pence was allowed to make a bunch of claims that deserved parrying:
MITCHELL: Joining us now live from Capitol Hill, Indiana Republican, Congressman Mike Pence, Chairman of the House Republican Conference, serves on the Foreign Affairs Committee. Thanks so much for joining us. What are your objections to the current proposals you're seeing on the Hill from the Democratic side?
PENCE: Well, we just believe that the so-called cap and trade bill that's being moved behind closed doors on Capitol Hill amounts to nothing short of a national energy tax. According to some independent estimates, the average American household could see their energy costs go up by more than $3,000 per year. We heard testimony today at an energy summit hosted by House Republicans that this national energy tax could literally cost millions of American jobs in the next 20 years. And we just believe there's a better way we can achieve a cleaner environment.
See, the first thing I'd have done is ask Pence to cite the source of this so-called independent estimate, because we've heard about this $3,000-per-household tax increase figure before -- from a widely reported-on instance of an MIT scientist's work being badly mishandled by GOP politicians. And if the "independent" studies Pence cites are actually this MIT study, or relate to it in some way, I'd like to know about it!
I just got off the phone with John Reilly--the M.I.T. scientist whose study of the costs of cap-and-trade legislation has been badly abused by House Republicans--and he gave me a complete rundown of his unfortunate involvement in climate change politics.
Here's a brief timeline of events:
* April, 2007: Reilly and several coauthors release a paper titled "Assessment of U.S. Cap-and-Trade Proposals, which estimates early annual revenues from such legislation would run $366 billion
* Sometime between April, 2007 and March, 2009: House Republicans get a hold of his paper, divide $366 billion by the number of households in America, and conclude, erroneously, that the quotient ($3,128) will be the average cost per home.
* March, 2009: Republicans begin using this number in press releases, citing Reilly's study
* Shortly thereafter: The Obama administration gets in touch with Dr. Reilly and asks him to explain his study and the number--he corrects the record.
From there, there are further instances of Reilly having to explain, again and again, that he never said any such thing about the per household cost of the cap and trade proposal. And I have to wonder if maybe this continues to happen because people like Andrea Mitchell refuse to challenge these erroneous contentions.
And Mitchell doesn't here, with Pence, either, moving on to matters of process in lieu of matters of fact and eventually changing the subject entirely. And what can one say? She could have also challenged the validity of asserting the factual basis of anything that issued forth from this Echo Chamber Summit on Some Stuff We'll Say About Cap And Trade. She could have also asked if Pence really, really had "a better way we can achieve a cleaner environment," or if that was going to be like the House GOP's "budget" -- twenty pages of news-cycle-winning clip art and bromides.
Anyway, maybe Mitchell learned to play dumb in front of people who misuse the work of scientists from Fred Hiatt.