Krugman Undermines Waxman-Markey Job Creation Claims

Today, National Public Radio held a pep rally for the Waxman-Markey climate change bill, which narrowly passed the House last night, with Paul Krugman as head cheerleader. No critic of the bill was interviewed.

Krugman started out with a brief explanation of the bill. He acknowledged that it would bear some costs, and that some industries and parts of the country that rely on coal “are going to be hurt… somewhat.” He repeated the Democrat talking point that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated the cost of the bill for the average household would be around$175 “a postage stamp a day.” (Never mind that people are buying fewer stamps because of email; let’s make them spend that money, anyway — for nothing.)

Then NPR host Guy Raz asked Krugman to comment on bill cosponsor Rep. Henry Waxman’s claim that his bill would create jobs. Krugman said:

There will be more wind farms built. There will be people retrofitting power plants to reduce their emissions. There will be people weatherproofing housing and commercial buildings.”

What economists would say is that employment would be just about the same as it would have been otherwise, but it will be a different mix of jobs. [Emphasis added]

That is not job creation, that is a transfer of wealth from a politically disfavored group of industries to a politically favored one. Notice the nebulous reference to “economists.” To which ones is Krugman referring to? Isn’t he one?

Now, back to that $175 per year figure that the bill’s supporters like to bandy about. They love that postage-stamp-a-day comparison so much that I thought it would be a good idea to come up with some of my own. For an average household, that $175 would also amount to:

  • An additional month of utilities;
  • One less plane ticket to visit family or go on vacation; or
  • One payment on a cheap used car

Other similar comparisons are welcome, so please post in the comments below.