The MIT myth

THE MIT MYTH…. The irreplaceable Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) wrote an op-ed for the Minneapolis Star Tribune today, showing off her impressive expertise on energy policy. (thanks to reader S.A. for the tip)

President Obama has repeatedly said he will not raise taxes on low- and middle-income families, yet his policies do not match his rhetoric. Take for instance, a new tax he has proposed on the use of energy. It’s called cap-and-trade or, more appropriately, cap-and-tax. The tax would require energy producers and businesses to pay to emit carbon emissions in the hope of reducing greenhouse gases. […]

Any way you look at it, it’s low- and middle-income Americans who will pay dearly for this. According to an analysis by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the average American household could expect its yearly energy bill to increase by $3,128 per year. Using an analysis by Peter Orszag, President Obama’s budget director, that number would be closer to $4,000.

As is often the case with Bachmann, this claim is funnier than most. We already know that there is no M.I.T. analysis pointing to the $3,128 number. The M.I.T. scholar in question has specifically told House Republicans that the number is completely wrong. (Whether Bachmann is ignorant or dishonest is unclear.)

But what I like about Bachmann’s piece is that she pushes the envelope, pointing to an OMB analysis saying that the make-believe M.I.T. figure understates the case. And what OMB analysis would that be? As it turns out, that doesn’t exist, either.

Bachmann, in other words, is pointing to one imaginary report to bolster the conclusion reached by a different report that doesn’t say what she thinks it says. That takes real talent. She did all of this in a piece for publication, which she and her staff presumably took a little time to look over before sending it in.

That said, Brian Beutler and Eric Kleefeld seem inclined to cut the nutty lawmaker some slack: “[U]sing a fake statistic as a standard talking point isn’t too bad compared to Bachmann’s other pronouncements about the dangers of re-education camps and replacing the dollar, or the people becoming slaves, or how the country is at the point of revolution. Really, this is one of her tamer moments.”

Fair enough.