THEY WERE ONLY OFF BY A FACTOR OF 18…. For several months, whenever the issue of cap-and-trade comes up, GOP policymakers and their allies immediately turn to their favorite talking point: a 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 — and who has tried to explain to Republicans why the claim is wrong.

Told, over and over again, that their talking point has no basis in reality, Republican officials nevertheless keep saying it. When the GOP isn’t denying climate change science altogether, it’s pushing the $3,128 claim.

OK, so we know the Republicans are lying, but what’s the actual cost Americans can expect if a cap-and-trade system becomes law? The Congressional Budget Office, which has produced several reports of late that Republicans just love, reported on the expected costs of Waxman-Markey.

…CBO estimates that the net annual economywide cost of the cap-and-trade program in 2020 would be $22 billion — or about $175 per household. That figure includes the cost of restructuring the production and use of energy and of payments made to foreign entities under the program, but it does not include the economic benefits and other benefits of the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and the associated slowing of climate change.

Some households would pay a little more, and some of the nation’s poorest households would actually get money back, but the average is about $175 per household, the equivalent, Chris Harris noted, of “a postage stamp per day.”

Better yet, the costs go down in future years, as carbon permits are sold, and the proceeds are “rebated to taxpayers.”

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), who pushed the $3,128 line as aggressively as anyone, told Brian Beutler in April he would revisit Republican talking points if additional information came to light.

I’m glad to hear that. Congressional Republicans now have a chance to approach the debate in an honest, serious way. Anyone want to lay odds on whether they keep using the discredited argument anyway?

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.