BOEHNER’S RATIONALIZATION…. A wide variety of Republicans, in the House and Senate, have been pushing this absurd claim that the administration’s cap-and-trade proposal would impose, on average, a $3,128 energy burden on the typical American home. The figure comes from a bastardization of a study conducted by John Reilly, an M.I.T. scientist who supports the cap-and-trade plan.

Reilly told Republican officials that their talking point isn’t true, but as evidenced this week, they keep saying it anyway.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) explained in a press release why GOP lawmakers feel comfortable repeating a bogus statistic, even after it’s been debunked.

How do Republicans arrive at the $3,100 dollar figure? It’s pretty simple. We took MIT’s own estimate of a key “cap-and-trade” bill from the 110th Congress (S. 309) cosponsored by then-Senator Obama that said S. 309 would generate $366 billion in revenues in 2015…. We took MIT’s own number — $366 billion — and divided that by the number of U.S. households (we assumed 300 million people and an average household size of 2.56 people…which is 117 million households). Using this formula, you get roughly $3,000 per household. […]

An MIT professor has questions about the $3,100 figure but his letter makes assumptions that are factually inaccurate. Moreover, he claims “government rebates to consumers” must be factored in. But we all know that Democrats have no intention of using a cap-and-trade system to deliver rebates to consumers; they want the tax revenue to fund more government spending. Key Democrats — including Senators Reid & Conrad — have even said they want to use cap-and-trade to fund their bureaucrat-controlled health care plan. In fact, nothing in the Democrats’ budget would provide rebates or any relief to consumers.

Let’s unpack this a bit. First, the method of finding a per-household average is itself misleading. Brad Plumer noted that the GOP’s arithmetic “brushes off the fact that most carbon revenue would be rebated back to consumers, and that certain conservation measures could help reduce energy bills. But the actual MIT study implies that the welfare cost would be around $31 per person in 2015, rising to an average of $85 per person per year — not including the benefits of cleaner air and a habitable planet.”

Second, as Brian Beutler explained, “Reilly’s objections were farther reaching than [Boehner indicated] and included not just the idea that increased costs will be somewhat offset by rebates, but that consumers will respond to higher energy prices by being more efficient and reducing consumption and that alternative fuels will become cheaper and so on. In other words, their methodology is flawed even if you grant them the assumption that the government will rebate $0 to consumers.”

And third, Boehner insists that Democrats intend to use cap-and-trade revenue to “fund their bureaucrat-controlled health care plan.” Not only is this an absurd description of the Democratic health care plan, but both Reid and Conrad have specifically rejected the idea of financing health care reform through a cap-and-trade system.

In other words, Boehner, trying to justify repeating an obvious lie, doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Again.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.