UPDATE: Sean has responded, sort of, in the comments of his post. More information at the bottom of the page, but the basic idea is he'll apologize when he sees it in other newspapers. I've challenged him to back up his statements once again.
FiredUp has a new chief blogger in residence, Sean Soendker Nicholson, and his output is prodigious, which is to say his cut-and-paste arguments of more important liberal blogs is growing old. I guess it's better than "anonymous" "citizens" posting from Jefferson City, but the problem with counting on other people to do your reporting is you don't always catch it when they're wrong.
Setting aside the shots at Sean, let's address a serious issue. Sean is a paid blogger - he's now part of the FiredUp staff. He is also a Missouri political blogger, and it's up to us to police ourselves We have our first opportunity to determine just what kind of man Sean is, and whether he's interested in the truth, or only mindless partisan attacks against Republicans.
.Sean, as he styles himself, has been accusing Blaine Luetkemeyer of lying. The freshman congressman has been arguing against a Cap and Trade program, and has been citing a cost of over $3000 per family if it's enacted. .Sean references a series of liberal blogs reporting the same story from the St Petersburg Times Politifact to say the claim is not true. Originally, it didn't look food for Blaine and the rest of the GOP, as the MIT professor who wrote the study cited by the GOP has said they misinterpreted his data and made false claims.
And then John McCormack at the Weekly Standard did some real reporting. Exchanging emails with John Reilly of MIT, we find two facts that exonerate Blaine Luetkemeyer, Michele Bachmann, John Boehner and the rest of the Republicans. The true cost to each household will be over $3900 under cap-and-trade.
It breaks down like this. Reilly admitted his original calculations were wrong. Direct cash costs to each household are $800. These costs are cash paid to make our homes and cars greener. But indirect costs in the amount of over $3100 are also extracted from each household through taxes on energy industries and manufacturers, who then pass those costs on to consumers in the form of higher prices. These are Reilly's figures - but he claims the $3100 is not a"real" cost, as it will be "returned" to the household in various ways.
What does returned mean? It could be a rebate check. That's doubtful, but it could work that way. Other ways the money could be returned could be spending on healthcare, bridges, schools, the salaries of paid political hacks in the Governor's office, or any other "service" provided by the government. You see, "returned" is an economic term Reilly uses to say that taxes have a net zero cost on average, because we get something in return. The only problem is that term is exactly what a tax is. The government takes your money, spends it on something, and you get the benefit. Under Reilly's definition, no tax ever costs a family anything unless it's truly government waste. In other words, your electricity bill can go up to $400, but since that money is used to pay ACORN to register more low-income voters, it didn't really cost you $400.
In other words, Reilly estimates that "the amount of tax collected" through companies would equal $3,128 per household--and "Those costs do get passed to consumers and income earners in one way or another"--but those costs have "nothing to do with the real cost" to the economy. Reilly assumes that the $3,128 will be "returned" to each household. Without that assumption, Reilly wrote, "the cost would then be the Republican estimate [$3,128] plus the cost I estimate [$800]."
In Reilly's view, the $3,128 taken through taxes will be "returned" to each household whether or not the government cuts a $3,128 rebate check to each household.
McCormack wrote the Politifact about their error, but just like FactCheck.org, having a name that sounds "truthy" (and even winning a Pulitzer) doesn't mean you're actually accurate. Apparently, it doesn't even mean you have to correct falsehoods on your site. It does mean that those who use your site to try and score political points have to admit when they are wrong.
Sean Soendker Nicholson of FiredUp Missouri, you have falsely accused a US Congressman of lying. You've repeatedly used your press-exempt site to report information that has now been shown to be false. You have a duty to apologize to the Congressman publicly on the front page of FiredUp, and in updates on each entry you used to smear his name. It won't be easy swallowing your pride and admitting you were wrong, but if you fail to do so, you will prove yourself nothing more than another paid political hack who can not be trusted as a blogger.
Sean, what kind of man are you?
UPDATE: In the comments on the post over at FiredUp, Sean continues to claim that Reilly's statements should be taken seriously. The information he reposts states it even more clearly. Reilly claims there is no net effect on the economy from $3100 in additional taxes per household. There's a problem with that. In Reilly's economic worldview, no tax would ever count as a negative because it purchases services used by the general public.
That's a huge problem. He's arguing the net impact on the economy, rather than the dollar impact on the taxpayer.
If I tax you 100% of your income and use it to hire a teacher, the net impact to the economy is zero. The services provided by the teacher are good for the public, and equal to the money taken from you by taxes. That's Reilly's argument. If 100% of your money is taken and burned in a leaf pile, then there's a negative effect (although even that is not true, as the Treasury would just print more, and is doing so). In both instances, you've had money taken from you that has a negative effect on you, even if the "economy" doesn't suffer a "real" loss.
Sean then goes on to recite old articles with bad information about the actual cost, claiming that Reilly's defense of "returned" money is a valid one. It's not. Money taken from you and given to the government is a tax, which means the Republicans were right. Claiming the money can be refunded is a tax rebate, but the original tax has still been taken out of your wallet. And oh by the way, that money won't be refunded, as it is already earmarked for healthcare and paying down the debt. In other words, the government is taking more money from you and using it to fund services.
Now Sean has two options. He can continue to deny his responsibility in standing behind his words, or he can fess up and admit that he made a mistake. So far, he's taking the weasel way out of claiming the stories he reported on haven't been changed, so he doesn't have to make an apology. If this pertains, we'll know that Sean is not a serious blogger, but a cut-and-paste partisan hack who writes only to attack Republicans. One would hope he is better than that. The ball is in his court.