Fact Check Size may not matter much when talking banks

Sen. Elizabeth Warren said, "The five largest financial institutions are 38 percent bigger than they were back in 2008, when they were too big to fail."

Politifact had to find a way to measure this. One way seemed to back her up in a narrowly defined time frame. A different method produced a lower number, though the trend is the same. Warren's comment "presumes simply that there is a threshold 'too big to fail' size, and implies that the top five having gotten bigger, they were already past that threshold, and (now) are even more 'too big to fail,'" said Satya Thallam, director of financial services policy at the American Action Forum, a center-right think tank.

"The size of financial institutions is not per se evidence of 'too big to fail' expectations." Other experts Politifact spoke with echoed that sentiment. During the financial crisis, the federal government was "desperate to have these banks merge," Peirce said. "That is a large contributing factor (in the growth of the top five)," said Hester Peirce, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

Emission regs rile chamber

The Obama administration hasn't even issued its planned regulations to curb carbon emissions yet, but that hasn't stopped the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Environmental Protection Agency from engaging in a public spat over whether or how much the potential rules could harm the nation's economy. The chamber - a leading pro-business group that has been critical of Obama's energy policies - pre-empted the administration's upcoming announcement alleging new regulations on carbon emissions will cost the economy an average of $51 billion and 224,000 jobs each year through 2030. The chamber says the administration wants to reduce carbon emissions by 42 percent by 2030, and by 80 percent before 2050. This prediction makes for a very costly future.

The chamber report estimates that requiring carbon capture technology on new natural gas plants "can more than double their construction costs and increases their total production cost by about 60 percent." But if these assumptions don't hold up, the figure would be a lot lower.

The administrationsays its misleading. "If someone wants to put out a study about the hypothetical cost of requiring (carbon capture) for natural gas plants, they should say that's what they're doing," said White House spokesman Matthew Lehrich. "But they shouldn't mislead people by pretending it's a study about the upcoming EPA proposal."

The conclusions in the chamber study are based on rules that haven't been released yet and on a prediction that under a future president the EPA will require carbon capture for new natural gas plants. That is, to say the least, far from a certainty.

Chip Tuthill lives in Mancos. Website used: www.politifact.com