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What’s ina day?

BY BEAU ELLIOT | APRIL 14, 2009 7:30 AM

Today is Be Kind to Lawyers Day. Just so you know to lay off the shark and professional-courtesy jokes.

It might also be Be Kind to Student Politicians Who Wish to Steal Newspapers Day. (It makes sense to be kind to them — they have great careers in the KGB ahead of them.)

Who knows? Every day is some kind of day, it seems, and after a while, it gets a bit difficult to keep track of them all. You know — Plant a Tree Day, Cut Down a Tree Day, Play Soccer with the Cat Day, Don’t Kick the Cat Day, Be Kind to Republicans Day (my family never celebrated that one, I have to confess) — pretty soon, you have so many Days that you’re in a daze.

In a daze (how to put this kindly — if only my family had celebrated that GOP Day) seems to be where Bob Vander Platts is living these days. Vander Plaats, a presumed candidate for the Republican nomination for governor, has called for Gov. Chet Culver to issue an executive order to overrule the recent Iowa Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage and stop those nuptials from taking place.

That would seem to take a page out of the Dick Cheney playbook, which I had thought we’d thrown out on Jan. 20, but apparently word has yet to reach western Iowa, which Vander Plaats calls home. (One of these days, say, 70 or 80 years from now, western Iowa will join the 20th century. Oh, happy day.)

It appears, of course, that the governor has no power to overrule a state Supreme Court decision. You gotta admit, it would kind of take the Supreme out of Supreme Court if a governor could do so.
But details, details. Vander Plaats is testing the gubernatorial waters, which involves playing to the Republican base, and the Republican waters appear to roiled with bigotry.

Those waters also seem to be roiled with some quite — well — interesting arithmetic.

Take the “light-switch tax.” That’s the GOP term for President Obama’s cap-and-trade plan for reducing carbon-dioxide emissions. The proposal would tax companies for those emissions and allow the companies to trade emission credits among themselves.

The Republicans contend that the companies would simply pass the emissions tax on to the American people, and this would end up costing them a lot of money. To put it in their words:
“The administration raises revenue for nationalized health care through a series of new taxes, including a light-switch tax that would cost every American household $3,128 a year.”

That from the House Republican Conference in a web post and press release titled “Questions on the Budget for President Obama.” The Republicans were relying, they said, on an MIT study on a cap-and-trade plan that is supposedly similar to Obama’s proposal (the Obama team has not yet released the details on its plan).

Whoa, you say. An MIT study. That’s bringing out the big guns. (Maybe today is also Bring Out the Big Guns Day.)

Well, not so fast. It’s a lot more like Bring Out the Fuzzy Math Day. What the Republicans did was take the study’s figure of $366 billion per year that the cap-and-trade would raise, divide it by the estimated number of American households (117 million), and come up with the $3,128 figure.

And that’s just Flat Earth arithmetic. But you don’t have to take my word for it. John Reilly, an MIT energy, environmental, and agricultural economist and a coauthor of the study, says (as quoted in the St. Petersburg Times), “It’s just wrong. It’s wrong in so many ways it’s hard to begin.”

Not only that, Reilly told the Times, he told the Republicans so when they called him to ask about the study. As the Times reports, “Someone from the House Republicans had called me [March 20] and asked about this,” Reilly said. “I had explained why the estimate they had was probably incorrect and what they should do to correct it, but I think this wrong number was already floating around by that time.”

Or, as the good folks at Talking Points Memo described it, “Always on the side of solid science, Republicans withdrew the contention totally ignored him and kept chugging along with that number.”

Reilly’s study did estimate the cost to Americans: $30.89 per person in 2015, $79 per family.

Not, you have to admit, exactly $3,128. No matter how you do the math.

Maybe we could have a Teach Republicans Arithmetic Day.

It would be kind.


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