The other day, Drudge had some screaming headline about how a bill in Congress on global warming would reduce the gross domestic product by over $500 billion. Even in a $13 trillion economy, this is real money.
When I clicked on Drudge's link, it took me, as usual, to a wire story that offered little additional detail. The actual study, however, was easily available online--in this instance, the Energy Department's web site, where Drudge could have found it himself if he had bothered to take another couple of seconds to look.
I don't mean to pick on Drudge. Almost every blogger does the same thing and I find it frustrating because so often the wire copy is inaccurate or misleading. I suspect that in such cases the blogger doesn't really want to know the truth because that might spoil the story.
The Energy Department study is a good example. It is true that it projects GDP will be lower by $533 billion if the bill in question passes. But this is a total reduction over a 21-year period (2009-2030). Since the study indicates that this is 0.22 percent of GDP over this time, we can calculate that total GDP will equal more than $242 trillion over this period. Obviously, $533 billion isn't so much in this context.
DOE says the size of the economy in 2030 would only be lower by between 0.3 percent and 0.5 percent. Considering that GDP will be about $40 trillion in 2030, according to the latest report from Social Security's actuaries, this doesn't seem like much to worry about--the equivalent of rounding error.
This doesn't mean I support the particular bill. It just means that perhaps the economic cost is not unreasonable, as Drudge implied. I would strongly urge bloggers to make an extra effort to find the actual studies they refer to and not rely solely on news reports or wire copy that may be misleading or innacurate.