NYT: Treasury watchdog finds no political pressure on tax analysis

NYT: Treasury watchdog finds no political pressure on tax analysis
© Greg Nash

The Treasury Department’s independent watchdog has cleared staffers of exerting any improper political influence on the analysis of the Republican tax overhaul, according to The New York Times.

The department's inspector general launched the investigation after Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinDem lawmaker calls for cryptocurrency probe after Mueller indictments Meet the woman who is Trump's new emissary to Capitol Hill On The Money: Fed chief lays out risks of trade war | Senate floats new Russia sanctions amid Trump backlash | House passes bill to boost business investment MORE faced intense criticism over the scoring of the GOP tax plan.

Mnuchin and Republican leaders insisted their bill to slash corporate and personal income taxes would boost economic growth enough to pay down the federal debt. The secretary promised an extensive Treasury analysis of the bill that would prove its benefits before Congress voted on the plan.

Economists across the political spectrum, including those who supported the plan, said those predictions were too optimistic.

Treasury career staffers, meant to be insulated from political pressure, had for decades provided extensive nonpartisan analyses of major fiscal legislation. The lack of a thorough scoring of the tax bill before the Senate voted on the plan, despite Mnuchin’s claims, enraged critics of the tax plan.

Treasury released a brief one-page analysis of the plan on Dec. 11, claiming the proposal would increase tax revenue by about $1.8 trillion over 10 years.

The analysis predicted the bill would generate a 2.9-percent growth rate, as projected in Trump's fiscal 2018 budget, compared to previous projections of 2.2 percent growth in gross domestic product.

Sens. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHouse passes measure blocking IRS from revoking churches' tax-exempt status over political activity Senators introduce bipartisan bill to improve IRS Senate panel advances Trump IRS nominee MORE (D-Ore.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenOn The Money: Trump rips Fed over rate hikes | Dems fume as consumer agency pick refuses to discuss border policy | Senate panel clears Trump IRS nominee Dems fume as Trump's consumer bureau pick refuses to discuss role in border policy Trump vows to hold second meeting with Putin MORE (D-Mass.) asked the Treasury inspector general to probe whether department employees were pressured to fudge the numbers in their analysis.

Congress's nonpartisan tax scorekeeper, the Joint Committee on Taxation, predicted that the bill as written then would have added about $1.4 trillion to the deficit over 10 years before accounting for economic growth and about $1 trillion to the deficit after taking growth into account.