No Dissent, No Cost Questions in Cap-and-Trade Coverage

John Broder mostly ignored skeptics and lowballed the cost of the Democrat's climate change bill.

Saturday's lead story by John Broder, "House Backs Bill, 219-212, To Curb Global Warming," emphasized the historic significance of the emerging legislation, not the enormous costs of the bill designedto limit heat-trapped gas emissions and provide incentives for wind and solar energy.It followed in the credulous footsteps ofBroder's reporting on the climate change issue two weeks ago, where he completely swallowed an alarmist report from the White House, relaying its extreme assertions as unchallenged facts.

From Broder's Saturday lead:

The House passed legislation on Friday intended to addressglobal warmingand transform the way the nation produces and uses energy.

The vote was the first time either house of Congress had approved a bill meant to curb the heat-trapping gases scientists have linked to climate change. The legislation, which passed despite deep divisions among Democrats, could lead to profound changes in many sectors of the economy, including electric power generation, agriculture, manufacturing and construction.

The bill's passage, by 219 to 212, with 44 Democrats voting against it, also established a marker for the United States when international negotiations on a new climate change treaty begin later this year.

At the heart of the legislation is a cap-and-trade system that sets a limit on overall emissions of heat-trapping gases while allowing utilities, manufacturers and other emitters to trade pollution permits, or allowances, among themselves. The cap would grow tighter over the years, pushing up the price of emissions and presumably driving industry to find cleaner ways of making energy.

President Obamahailed the House passage of the bill as "a bold and necessary step." He said in a statement that he looked forward to Senate action that would send a bill to his desk "so that we can say, at long last, that this was the moment when we decided to confront America's energy challenge and reclaim America's future."

Broder waited until paragraph 11 to give Republican opposition a brief voice.

Republican leaders called the legislation a national energy tax and predicted that those who voted for the measure would pay a heavy price at the polls next year.

"No matter how you doctor it or tailor it," said Representative Joe Pitts, Republican of Pennsylvania, "it is a tax."

Meanwhile, Broder quoted four people in favor of the bill: Rep. Henry Waxman, former vice president Al Gore, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, as well as Obama himself. And he didn't question the latestestimates from the Congressional Budget Office that conservatives say lowball the cost of the cap-and-trade regime:

The bill would grant a majority of the permits free in the early years of the program, to keep costs low. TheCongressional Budget Officeestimated that the average American household would pay an additional $175 a year in energy costs by 2020 as a result of the provision, while the poorest households would receive rebates that would lower their annual energy costs by $40.

The Heritage Foundation says the CBO is wrong for several reasons:

False Assumptions:CBO underestimates that the bill would cost households $175 in 2020. They assume that the carbon tax isn't a tax if the government spends the money. When have Americans ever seen all of a tax returned to them? It's like suggesting your tax rebate will be as large as the amount taken from your paycheck every year.

Numbers Don't Add Up: The CBO's allowance cost numbers don't add up. They say the allowance price will be $28. Since there are 5.056 billion tons of CO2 equivalent in the cap that year, that implies a $141 billion gross cost. They list $91.4 billion.

Hard to Believe: In the CBO's June 5 analysis, they projected allowance revenues of $119.7 billion, $129.7 billion, $136 billion, $145.6 billion and $152.9 billion for the years 2015-2019. It's hard to believe that the next number in that series would be $91.4 billion.

Ignores Economic Damage:The CBO doesn't include the decrease in GDP as a result of the bill. The GDP hit in 2020 would be $161 billion (in 2009 dollars) according to our analysis. For a family of four, that is $1,870 that they ignore.

Monday's follow-up lead story by Broder, "Obama Opposes Trade Sanctions In Climate Bill - Backs Overall Measure - Efforts Shift to Senate After House Victory on Gas Emissions," failed to quote any Republican opposition, only noting the political difficulties of getting Democrats from energy-producing states on board.