Fact Checking the Sunday Shows — June 20, 2010

June 21, 2010 10:54 am ET

On Sunday, Republicans struggled to deflect attention from Rep. Joe Barton's (R-TX) ridiculous apology to BP. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) ludicrously suggested that President Obama has taken so much money from BP that he is more likely than the GOP to side with Big Oil — which has given Republicans $188 million since 1990. McConnell and Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) each claimed that Barton's comments are not the Republican position, but the 114-member Republican Study Committee has expressed similar concerns. Elsewhere, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) proved that she doesn't understand the basics of cap-and-trade by calling that system of economic incentives a "command-and-control type of system."

Fox News Sunday

CLAIM: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell Implied That BP Contributions To President Obama's Campaign Mean He Is More Protective Of Oil Industry Than Are Republicans

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL: I think it's important to remember the President of the United States I believe was the biggest recipient of BP, uh, political contributions when he ran, so, that's nonsense.

FACT: Republicans Have Received $188 Million From Oil And Gas Industry Since 1990 — Three Times More Than Democrats — And $2.4 Million From BP

Oil And Gas Companies Have Given Republicans $188 Million Since 1990. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the Oil and Gas Industry has given $188,324,219 to Republicans since 1990. [OpenSecrets.org, accessed 6/20/10]

75% Of Oil And Gas Industry Election Spending Goes To Elect Republicans. According to the Center for Responsive Politics: "Individuals and political action committees affiliated with oil and gas companies have donated $238.7 million to candidates and parties since the 1990 election cycle, 75 percent of which has gone to Republicans.

[OpenSecrets.org, accessed 6/20/10, emphasis added]

Sen. McConnell Has Received $860,000 From Oil And Gas Companies Since 1990. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Sen. McConnell has accepted $860,261 from the Oil and Gas Industry since the 1990 election cycle. [OpenSecrets.org, accessed 6/20/10]

  • BP Gave Sen. McConnell $22,000 Over The Past 20 Years. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Sen. McConnell has accepted $22,000 from BP since the 1990 election cycle. [OpenSecrets.org, accessed 6/20/10]

Rep. Joe Barton Has Received $1.4 Million From Oil And Gas Industry Since 1990. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Congressman Barton has accepted $1,448,380 from the Oil and Gas Industry since the 1990 election cycle. [OpenSecrets.org, accessed 6/20/10]

  • BP Gave Rep. Barton $27,350 Over The Past 20 Years. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Congressman Barton has accepted $27,350 from BP since the 1990 election cycle. [OpenSecrets.org, accessed 6/20/10]

FACT: BP Has Given Twice As Much To Republicans As Democrats.

BP Has Given More Than Twice As Much To Republicans ($2.4 Million) As To Democrats ($1.1 Million) Since 1990 Election Cycle. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Republicans have accepted $2,415,103 from BP since the 1990 election cycle. Democrats have accepted $1,111,645 over the same period. [OpenSecrets.org, accessed 6/20/10]

While President Obama Ranks First In Contributions From BP, 22 Of Top 25 Recipients Of BP Funds Are Republicans. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Barack Obama ranks first among federal candidates with $77,051 dollars since 1990. But the next six names on the list are Republicans Don Young (AK), Ted Stevens (AK), George W. Bush (TX), John McCain (AZ), George Voinovich (OH), and Mike DeWine (OH). Only three Democrats appear in the top 25 — John Dingell (MI), Mary Landrieu (LA), and Blanche Lincoln (AR). [OpenSecrets.org, accessed 6/20/10]

CLAIM: Sen. McConnell Claimed It Is "Nonsense" That Rep. Joe Barton's Apology To BP Shows Republicans "Care More About Oil Companies Than They Do About The Environment"

WALLACE [host]: Senator, how do you counter the Democrats' argument that Republicans care more about the oil companies than they do about the environment?

SEN. MCCONNELL: Well of course that's, uh, nonsense. I couldn't disagree with Joe Barton more. BP doesn't need an apology, they need to apologize to us, and they certainly need to cover all the cost of the, uh, cleanup, and the economic, uh, damages as well. And they're going — they're going to. [FOX News Sunday with Chris Wallace]

CLAIM: Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) Claimed Rep. Joe Barton's Criticism Of The "Shakedown" Of BP "Is Not Mainstream Republican Thought"

SEN. SHELBY: I think that was a dumb statement by Senator— uh, by Congressman Barton. And, and he repudiated it later. He only spoke for himself, and then he, uh, tried to get away from that after there was pressure put on him. I would invite uh, Congressman Barton, if he hasn't been to the Gulf, and uh, also uh, Senator— I mean Congressman Paul, or his son, to come down here and see what's happened. We don't owe BP an apology, they owe the people of the Gulf an apology, the American people. And they are solely responsible for this. This was not— this was a man-made incident, a big mistake. They tried to do it on the cheap, I believe, made some shortcuts, and they paid for me, and now we pay for it. The Congressman only spoke for himself. That is not mainstream Republican thought. [Face the Nation]

FACT: Rep. Barton's Apology To BP For Escrow Account "Shakedown" Reflects Republican Study Committee Statement...

Rep. Joe Barton Told BP CEO Tony Hayward That "It Is A Tragedy Of The First Proportion That A Private Corporation Can Be Subjected To...A $20 Billion Shakedown." During a June 17th House Energy & Commerce Committee hearing, Rep. Barton said: "I'm speaking now totally for myself. I'm not speaking for the Republican Party, I'm not speaking for anybody in the House of Representatives but myself. But I'm ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday. I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation could be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown — in this case, a $20 billion shakedown — with the attorney general of the United States, who is legitimately conducting a criminal investigation, and has every right to do so to protect the interests of the American people, participating in what amounts to a $20 billion slush fund that's unprecedented in our nation's history, that's got no legal standing, and which sets, I think, a terrible precedent for the future." [Rep. Barton, 6/17/10 via The Atlantic, emphasis added]

Republican Study Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-GA) Called BP Economic Relief Escrow Fund "Chicago-style Shakedown Politics" From "An Administration That Appears Not To Respect Fundamental American Principles." In a statement on June 16th Rep. Price said: "BP has already begun paying claims.  Any attempt by the company to sidestep that responsibility should be met with the strongest legal recourses available.  However, in an administration that appears not to respect fundamental American principles, it is important to note that there is no legal authority for the President to compel a private company to set up or contribute to an escrow account. BP's reported willingness to go along with the White House's new fund suggests that the Obama Administration is hard at work exerting its brand of Chicago-style shakedown politics.  These actions are emblematic of a politicization of our economy that has been borne out of this Administration's drive for greater power and control.  It is the same mentality that believes an economic crisis or an environmental disaster is the best opportunity to pursue a failed liberal agenda." [RSC.TomPrice.House.gov, 6/16/10, emphasis added]

  • The Republican Study Committee Represents 114 House Republicans. According to the RSC's website, the following 114 Republicans are members of the Committee. (click to enlarge)

[RSC.TomPrice.House.gov, accessed 6/20/10]

...And Other Prominent Republicans' Commitments To Protecting BP From Government Pressure

Republican Senate Candidate Rand Paul Called Obama Administration's Pressure On BP "Un-American." According to the New York Times: "A day after he was forced to explain remarks he had made suggesting he was not fully supportive of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, Mr. Paul set off yet another round of Twitter, cable television and e-mail chatter by lambasting President Obama and his aides for insisting that BP be held accountable — and pay — for the oil spill cleanup and damage. 'What I don't like from the president's administration is this sort of, 'I'll put my boot heel on the throat of BP,' ' Mr. Paul said, referring to a remark by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar about the oil company. 'I think that sounds really un-American in his criticism of business. I've heard nothing from BP about not paying for the spill. And I think it's part of this sort of blame-game society in the sense that it's always got to be someone's fault instead of the fact that sometimes accidents happen.'" [New York Times, 5/21/10, emphasis added]

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) Said The Escrow Fund Is "A Redistribution-Of-Wealth Fund" Intended To Bring "More Government Control." According to the Minnesota Independent: "In her address to the [Heritage Foundation], Bachmann attacked the White House proposal for BP to arrange a $20 billion escrow account to pay for damages from the oil spill: 'The president just called for creating a fund that would be administered by outsiders, which would be more of a redistribution-of-wealth fund.  And now it appears like we'll be looking at one more gateway for more government control, more money to government.  If there is a disaster, why is it that government is the one who always seems to benefit after a disaster, and that's of course what cap-and-trade would be.'" [Minnesota Independent, 6/16/10]

Former Speaker Of The House Newt Gingrich Likened The Escrow Account To Extortion. In an appearance on FOX's Hannity, Gingrich and Sean Hannity had the following exchange:

GINGRICH: Well, sure it does. I think the reports I've seen so far, that the president's claiming that he was responsible for this. BP is claiming they were going to do it anyway. But let's say the president was responsible. By what right does a politician decide that $20 billion is the right number? Why wasn't it 30 or 40?

HANNITY: Well, that's a down payment.

GINGRICH: Furthermore—

HANNITY: They left open the door. It's going to be a heck of a lot more.

GINGRICH: I think it will be a lot more. But I just think the idea that if the president is directly engaged in extorting money from a company, this is like General Motors and Chrysler where the administration basically stole money from the creditors who own stock and who had bonds to give that money to their union allies.

[FOXNews.com, 6/18/10, emphasis added]

State of the Union

CLAIM: Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) Falsely Labeled Cap And Trade Energy Legislation A "Command-And-Control" Regulatory Regime

SEN. MURKOWSKI: It still puts you in the world of cap and trade. And this is where we just simply have not been able to get to 60...

CANDY CROWLEY [Host]: Why not?

MURKOWSKI: Well I think you've got too many people who are looking at this and saying, a cap and trade, a command-and-control type of a system, at a time like we are in right now, with, with, with recession, and a— just a very difficult economy, when we put mandates on and say, you will do thus, we're gonna drive jobs overseas, we're going to— we are going to harm the economy at a time when most of us do not think that that is the appropriate policy.

FACT: Cap And Trade Is A Market Incentive System — NOT A "Command-And-Control" Regulatory Regime

"Cap And Trade" And "Command-And-Control" Are Opposites. In a report titled "Cap-and-Trade vs. Command-and-Control: An Economic Assessment," the Agricultural Carbon Market Working Group writes:

In a command-and-control approach, EPA would implement a regulatory program with policies that would impose mandates requiring certain practices, standards or products deemed necessary to reduce GHG emissions. While such programs could decrease greenhouse gas levels, the system would rely on the judgment of government and not the market to determine the approach. In fact, the Clean Air Act and judicial decisions have made clear that EPA is not allowed to take economic and technological feasibility into account when setting these types of standards. Research shows that command-and-control policy can raise costs tenfold for consumers as regulation raises costs for certain products, which creates higher prices, but leaves no room for participants and other players to generate income to offset these costs.


Unlike a command-and-control approach, a market-based cap-and-trade program as outlined by the American Clean Energy & Security Act of 2009 (ACES) would create market opportunities for the agricultural community to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The bill as it stands would curb emissions from electric utilities, oil companies and large industrial sources by setting a cap and then allowing a flexible market to arise so that companies could choose the most effective means of meeting their GHG reduction requirement. Under a cap-and-trade market, agriculture could generate additional revenue by selling emissions offset credits to industries required to reduce their emission levels even though, as an uncapped sector, agriculture would not be regulated. These credits would be created by sequestering and reducing carbon or other GHG emissions through agricultural practices or processes that capture GHG emissions.

[AGCarbonMarkets.com, accessed 6/20/10, emphasis added, original emphases removed for clarity]

Cap And Trade Is A Market System, Not A Command-And-Control Regulatory Scheme. According to the New York Times:

There once was a time when the government relied on a very blunt way of regulating the economy. It told companies and individuals what they could do and what they could not do. These were the days of command-and-control regulation.

But then came the market revolution of the last three decades. With the Soviet empire collapsing, the United States economy growing more rapidly than Europe's, and newly market-friendly China and India booming, people saw the drawbacks of command and control. Governments were usually better off avoiding outright bans and instead giving people incentives to behave in productive ways.


Unfortunately, the great economic strength of market systems like cap and trade also happens to be their political weakness. They set prices and allow people to react. In the process, market systems acknowledge that reducing pollution may actually cost a little bit of money.


In a market system, businesses and consumers have a clear incentive to reduce their carbon use, and they can choose the cheapest way to do so. Some would decide to retrofit current buildings and homes to make them more energy-efficient. Some would buy new, more efficient machinery or appliances. Some would switch to alternative energy and, in the process, create a much bigger market for it.

"Instead of leaving it up to the government to identify the solution and tell people what to do, you are leaving that decision to the people who know best," says Nathaniel Keohane of the Environmental Defense Fund. "A bureaucrat would never have enough information to do as good a job."

Under a command-and-control system, businesses and consumers have to focus not just on carbon use but also on the details of the government's rules: the intricacies of vehicle and building standards, the types of appliances that qualify for subsidies, the fine print of the Energy Department's loan applications. Each bit of compliance brings costs.

[New York Times, 6/15/10, emphasis added]

FACT: The Democrats' Market-Based Clean Energy Legislation Would Help The Economy...

Clean Energy Legislation Would Boost GDP By Up To $111 Billion.  According to the University of California-Berkeley: "Comprehensive clean energy and climate protection legislation, like the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) that was passed by the House of Representatives in June, would strengthen the U.S. economy by establishing pollution limits and incentives that together will drive large-scale investments in clean energy and energy efficiency...New analysis by the University of California shows conclusively that climate policy will strengthen the U.S. economy as a whole. Full adoption of the ACES package of pollution reduction and energy efficiency measures would ... boost GDP by $39 billion-$111 billion. These economic gains are over and above the growth the U.S. would see in the absence of such a bill." [UC Berkeley, accessed 1/22/10]

Clean Energy Legislation Would Boost Household Income By Nearly $1,200 Per Year. According to the University of California-Berkeley: "Full adoption of the ACES package of pollution reduction and energy efficiency measures would create between 918,000 and 1.9 million new jobs, increase annual household income by $487-$1,175 per year... These economic gains are over and above the growth the U.S. would see in the absence of such a bill." [UC Berkeley, accessed 1/22/10]

...Create Millions Of American Jobs...

The American Power Act Would Create 540,000 American Jobs Per Year Until 2030. In its analysis of the American Power Act (APA), the ClimateWorks Foundation wrote: "APA would retain 110,000 jobs over the period 2012-2020 (150,000 over the period 2012-2030) across industrial sectors of the economy due to energy investments that drive construction and manufacturing job growth. On balance, national employment would be 440,000 higher on average compared to BAU from 2012-2020 and 540,000 higher over the period 2012-2030." [ClimateWorks Foundation, 6/15/10, emphasis added, parentheses original]

Investment In Clean Energy Technology Would Create Up To 1.9 Million American Jobs. According to the University of California-Berkeley, "new analysis by the University of California shows conclusively that climate policy will strengthen the U.S. economy as a whole. Full adoption of the ACES package of pollution reduction and energy efficiency measures would create between 918,000 and 1.9 million new jobs." [UC Berkeley, accessed 1/22/10]

Investment In Clean Energy Technology Creates FOUR TIMES As Many Jobs As An Investment In Oil & Gas.  According to the Center for American Progress, "spending $1 million on energy efficiency and renewable energy produces a much larger expansion of employment than spending the same amount on fossil fuels or nuclear energy. Among fossil fuels, job creation in coal is about 32 percent greater than that for oil and natural gas. The employment creation for energy efficiency-retrofitting and mass transit-is 2.5 times to four times larger than that for oil and natural gas. With renewable energy, the job creation ranges between 2.5 times to three times more than that for oil and gas." [Center for American Progress, The Economic Benefits of Investing in Clean Energy6/17/09]

...And Cost Only Pennies A Day

Peterson Institute: American Power Act Would Cause "Between A $136 Increase And A $35 Decrease" In Annual Energy Costs Per Household. In its analysis of the American Power Act, the Peterson Institute for International Economics wrote: "In our analysis, households see somewhere between a $136 increase and a $35 dollar decrease in annual energy expenditures, depending on future improvements in vehicle efficiency. The American Power Act also returns much of the revenue raised through the sale of pollution permits to households, with further mitigates the impact of higher energy prices." [Peterson Institute, May 2010]

Reuters: "Climate Legislation Moving Through Congress Would Have Only A Modest Impact On Consumers." According to Reuters: "A new U.S. government study on Tuesday adds to a growing list of experts concluding that climate legislation moving through Congress would have only a modest impact on consumers, adding around $100 to household costs in 2020. Under the climate legislation passed by the House of Representatives in June, electricity, heating oil and other bills for average families will rise $134 in 2020 and $339 in 2030, according to the Energy Information Administration, the country's top energy forecaster." [Reuters8/5/09]

EIA: Clean Energy Legislation Would Cost Only $0.23 Per Day. According to a House Energy and Commerce Committee factsheet of the Energy Information Administration's analysis of the American Clean Energy and Security Act: "The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has completed an analysis of the American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454), as passed by the U.S. House of Representatives... The overall impact on the average household, including the benefit of many of the energy efficiency provisions in the legislation, would be 23 cents per day ($83 per year).This is consistent with analyses by the Congressional Budget Office which projects a cost of 48 cents per day ($175 per year) and the Environmental Protection Agency which projects a cost of 22 to 30 cents per day ($80 to $111 per year)." [House Energy and Commerce Committee, EIA's Economic Analysis Of "The American Clean Energy And Security Act Of 2009," 8/4/09; emphasis original]