The republicans in the US Congress have long been fans of the J.C.T. Joint Committee on Taxation’s numbers by its staff economists who crunch the numbers for the US Congress.
But all of that praise ended the day that it didn’t deliver the analysis that republican lawmakers were looking for to support their talking points, that their recently planned tax cuts pay for themselves and of course nothing is added to the US deficit.
There has been so much underhanded maneuvering of the numbers so that there would be the resulting maximum cost of the GOP planned tax cuts of $1.5 trillion dollars which they are firmly bound to in order to pass a bill in the US Senate by only 51 votes versus the standard requirement for passage of a bill by 60+ senate votes. A tax plan did pass the US Senate early on Saturday morning (12/2/17) with 51 republicans in favor and 49 against, but it looks like the republican leaders may have been fudging the numbers. This gamesmanship was so egregious that I am questioning if the republicans in the US Senate can be legally challenged by the democratic party to be obligated to pass any similar tax bill with the typical requirement of 60+ votes.
Wait until you read the rest of this story…
On December 4, 2017, Jim Tankersley of the New York Times penned the following report, “Republicans Sought To Undercut An Unfavorable Analysis of the Tax Plan.”
“A republican requirement that Congress consider full cost of legislation threatened to derail the party’s $1.5 trillion tax rewrite last week.”
“So lawmakers went on the offensive to discredit the agency performing the analysis.”
“In 2015, republicans changed budget rules in Congress so that official scorekeepers would be required to analyze the potential economic impact of major legislation when determining how it would affect revenues.”
“But on (11/30/17), hours before they were set to vote on the largest tax cut Congress has considered in years, Senate Republicans opened an assault on that scorekeeper Joint Committee on Taxation, and its analysis which showed the Senate plan would not , as lawmakers contended, pay for itself but would add $1 trillion to the Federal budget deficit.”
“Public statements and messaging obtained by the New York Times show a concerted push by Republican lawmakers to discredit a nonpartisan agency that they had ling praised. Party leaders circulated 2 pages of “response Points” that declared “the substance, timing, and growth assumptions of J.C.T.’s dynamic scores are suspect. Among their arguments was that the joint committee was using was using “consistently wrong” growth models to assess the effect the tax cuts would have on hiring, wages and investment.”
“The republican response points go after revenue analyses by the committee and by the Congressional Budget Office, which scores other legislation, saying their findings “can be off to the tune of more than $1.5 trillion over 10 years.”
“The swift backlash helped defuse concerns about the deficit impact long enough for the bill to pass by a vote of 51 to 49. Some deficit hawks in the Senate caucus were sufficiently concerned about the only republican lawmakers to vote no was Senator of Tennessee, whose last minute efforts to cut the size of the package or otherwise offset the deficit impact were unsuccessful.”
“Instead, Senate Republicans questioned the timing of the analysis’ release on Thursday (11/30/17) and a spokeswoman for the Senate Finance Committee released a statement saying the findings are “curious and deserve further scrutiny.”
“That sentiment was repeated over and over, before and after the vote. “We think they low-balled it,” Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the majority whip, told reporters on Thursday. On Sunday, Senator Tim Scott of SC said on CNN that “there’s no doubt that the J.C.T. has been consistently underestimating the activity in our economy.”
“In the final hours before and after the bill passed, party leaders insisted that the tax cut would produce enough economic growth to pay for themselves with additional tax revenue from growing businesses and higher-paid workers. “I’m totally confident this is a revenue-neutral bill, senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, told reporters early Saturday morning (12/2/17) after the vote. “Actually a revenue producer.”
“Yet, there was no data to support these claims, despite promises by the Trump administration that such an analysis would be forthcoming. The Treasury, whose secretary, Steven Mnunchin, has said repeatedly that his department was working on an analysis to show that tax cuts would not add to the deficit, has not produced any studies that back up those claims. Last week, the Treasury’s inspector general said it was opening up an inquiry into the department’s analysis of the tax plan.”
“The attack on the joint committee and its analysis is a change from the praise Republicans have long heaped on the body which is staffed with economists and other career bureaucrats who analyze legislation in depth.”
“At stake in the debate is more than the reputation of the economic analysts whose lifeblood is understanding the vagaries and intersections of the federal budget and tax code.”
‘If Republicans are wrong and the joint committee is correct, the tax bill will add to an already worsening fiscal forecast in the US. The federal government is already running an annual deficit of $700 billion, The amount of federal debt has surpassed $20 trillion, and it is projected to grow by another 10 trillion over the next decade as government safety net spending rises because of retiring baby boomers and increasing health care costs.”
“Other independent analyses echo the joint committee’s findings. The Tax Foundation, which tends to find high growth effects from tax cuts, projected the House version of the tax bill would increase deficits by about $1 trillion after factoring in economic growth. The tax Policy Center, which tends to find much smaller effects, estimated the deficit increase at nearly $1.5 trillion. So did the Penn Wharton Budget Model which is run by a former Bush administration economist, Kent A. Smetters.”
LINK TO ENTIRE 12/4/17 NYT ARTICLE: Republicans Sought to Undercut an Unfavorable Analysis of the Tax ...https://www.nytimes.com/2017/