Americans For Prosperity: “Nevada Taxpayers First”

Americans for Prosperity targets Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV) for supporting clean energy legislation and voting against a proposed balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. However, the American Clean Energy and Security Act would have had a minimal impact on most consumers, and actually would have decreased energy costs for low-income households. In addition, the constitutional amendment that Berkley opposed would make cyclical economic downturns more severe, while AFP’s use of “family budgets” to justify the ban on deficits fails to consider that most Americans rely on things like mortgages and student loans.

Clean Energy Legislation Would Have Boosted The Economy At Minimal Cost To Consumers

The ad cites Vote #477 on June 26, 2009, in which the House passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act, to support the claim that Rep. Berkley “voted to increase taxes on gas and energy.”

Reuters: Experts Say House-Passed Clean Energy Bill 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. The EIA estimate was in line with earlier projections from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office which said average families would pay about $175 extra annually by 2020, and the Environmental Protection Agency, which said families would pay at most an extra $1 per day.” [Reuters8/5/09]

  • CBO: Energy Costs Would Actually Decrease For Low-Income Households. According to the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of the American Clean Energy and Security Act, if the bill were implemented, “households in the lowest income quintile would see an average net benefit of about $40 in 2020, while households in the highest income quintile would see a net cost of $245.” [, 6/19/09]

Study: Clean Energy Legislation Would Create Jobs, Boost GDP. According to an analysis by the University of California, Berkley: “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. These investments will result in stronger job growth, higher real household income, and increased economic output than the U.S. would experience without the bill. 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, increase annual household income by $487-$1,175 per year, and 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.” [University of California, Berkeley, accessed 5/14/12

Balanced Budget Amendment Would Worsen Future Economic Downturns

The ad cites Vote #858 on November 18, 2011, in which the House voted on a proposed amendment to the Constitution, to support the claim that Berkley “voted against requiring Congress to have a balanced budget.”

Bartlett: Balanced Budget Amendment “Would Force The Federal Government To Make Economic Recessions Worse.” According to Bruce Bartlett, a former adviser to President Ronald Reagan, in the Fiscal Times: “A BBA would force the federal government to make economic recessions worse. Since federal revenues fall and spending rises automatically in economic downturns, it would force spending cuts and tax increases at precisely the point when the economy is reeling, potentially turning a modest downturn into a depression.” [Fiscal Times8/27/10]

  • Balanced Budget Amendment Would Have “Catastrophic” Impact If It Were Enforced In 2012. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: “Macroeconomic Advisers writes that if a constitutional balanced budget requirement had been ratified in 2008 and took effect in fiscal year 2012, ‘The effect on the economy would be catastrophic.’ If the 2012 budget were balanced through spending cuts, those cuts would have to total about $1.5 trillion in 2012 alone, which the report estimates would throw about 15 million more people out of work, double the unemployment rate from 9 percent to approximately 18 percent, and cause the economy to shrink by about 17 percent instead of growing by an expected 2 percent.” [, 11/8/11]

OMB Watch: “Balanced Budget Amendment Could Impede Economic Recoveries.” According to OMB Watch: “While forcing Congress to balance the books through a constitutional mandate may be appealing to many fiscal hawks, a balanced budget amendment could impede economic recoveries following Wall Street meltdowns and other calamities.” [OMB Watch, 1/25/11]

Applied To American Families, Balanced Budget Requirement Would Prohibit Mortgages And Student Loans. According to Center on Budget and Policy Priorities president Bob Greenstein: “A family that takes out a student loan to send a child to college, for example, might end up with a large ‘deficit’ for that year — that is, it will spend more than it earns that year.  But a college education is a solid long-term investment that is likely to translate into significantly higher earnings over the child’s working career. Similarly, a family that obtains a mortgage will almost certainly have a ‘deficit’ for that year, but it will also have a house to live in. Families also build up savings in good economic times and draw them down when times are tight to cover expenses that exceed their current incomes. The proposed constitutional amendment would bar the federal government from such practices.  The federal government couldn’t borrow to finance investments that boost future economic growth, such as infrastructure improvements.  And if it ran a surplus one year, it couldn’t draw it down the next year to help balance the budget if the economy turned down.” [, 11/17/11]

[MAN 1:] In this economy, we’re all struggling to make ends meet. [MAN 2:] Every penny counts. [WOMAN 1:] So why would Shelley Berkley support raising gas prices? [WOMAN 2:] She voted to increase taxes on gas and energy. [MAN 2:] Costs that will be passed on to us. [WOMAN 3:] But Berkley voted against requiring Congress to have a balanced budget. [MAN 1:] We’re working hard to live within our family budgets. [WOMAN 2:] Shouldn’t Congress have to live within theirs? [WOMAN 3:] I guess Shelley Berkley doesn’t think so. [MAN 2:] Tell Shelley Berkley: Put hardworking Nevada taxpayers first. [WOMAN 1:] Stop the wasteful spending. [Americans for Prosperity via, 8/22/12]