Monday, July 6, 2009

Integrity Prevails: NRCC ACES Attack Ad Pulled By Virginia Station

Over the past few weeks, we've been hearing a lot of different numbers thrown around by the press, pundits and politicians when discussing the costs of the American Clean Energy and Security Act. Given the difficulty of modeling such comprehensive legislation, this is of course not surprising. What is surprising is how opponents of the bill have continued to use already debunked and misinterpreted studies in their efforts to keep America reliant on the fossil fuel industry.

In the weeks before the vote on ACES, we saw Exxon-backed interest groups making these false claims. During floor debate, the legislation's opponents used the false numbers on the House floor. After the bill's passage, we were left wondering who would answer the skeptics' call and carry on the tradition of using "simplistic and misleading" numbers to suit one's own end.

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) answered that call. Soon thereafter, they were called out on it.

As The Huffington Post reported:
WDBJ-TV, a Roanoke television station, will not air a National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) ad attacking freshman Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Va.), citing factual inaccuracies, according to Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee communications director Jen Crider. A source familiar with the station's decision confirmed Crider's account
Numerous non-partisan fact checking organizations have come out against the ad (via Factcheck.org):
The ad says the bill will result in lost jobs and cost "middle class families" $1,870 a year. That sounds pretty dire, until you consider that this week we posted an item about the Office of the Republican Whip Eric Cantor's claim that the same bill would "impose a national energy tax of up to $3,100." So is the cost of the legislation going down? Did the NRCC make a mistake in its math?

Hardly. While it may seem curious that House Republicans would flog two different cost figures for the proposed legislation, it is indicative of the difficulty in determining how a cap on carbon emissions could affect Americans' electricity bills. The NRCC ad credits a Washington Times editorial for its claim that the Waxman-Markey bill would make electricity prices "skyrocket," costing families $1,870 a year. But the NRCC is wrong.
Others have echoed the finding that the "NRCC is wrong." We've pointed out numerous times that not only did the Congressional Budget Office score the bill, finding the cost to be close to a postage stamp a day for each household, but the EPA recently released a study with similar findings.

Though calculating such costs is difficult, we'll take the findings of a non-partisan body (CBO) that are corroborated by another study (EPA) over the oft-questioned findings of a think tank (the Heritage Foundation) that are "pulled out of thin air." But who knows, maybe the Heritage numbers and the CBO postage stamp finding are both right, and somehow the NRCC pays $5.12 a stamp. If that's the case, maybe they ought to find a new mailman.