Republicans keep on scorekeeper for tax bills

Congressional Republicans have decided against making a change at the top of the Joint Committee on Taxation, instead deciding to keep Thomas Barthold as chief of staff. 

Senate Finance Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchTrump awards Presidential Medal of Freedom to economist, former Reagan adviser Arthur Laffer Trump awards Presidential Medal of Freedom to economist, former Reagan adviser Arthur Laffer Second ex-Senate staffer charged in aiding doxxing of GOP senators MORE (R-Utah) and House Ways and Means Chairman Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanTrump says Democrats are handing out subpoenas 'like they're cookies' The unexpected shadow of 1994, 25 years later Addressing climate change is a win for Republicans — why not embrace it? MORE (R-Wis.) said in a statement that Barthold “has been a strong, nonpartisan leader” in his five-plus year atop the tax committee.

“He and his staff produce quality, objective reports and analyses that help shape the major policy debates that are important to hard-working American taxpayers,” Hatch and Ryan added. “We look forward to continuing our work with him in the 114th Congress.”

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Barthold and JCT staff are charged with projecting the costs and revenue raised by Congress’s tax bills, and Hatch and Ryan made the decision to keep Barthold for what could be a key two-year span for tax policy.

Both the White House and congressional Republicans have expressed an interest in revamping the tax code, though President Obama’s focus has been to overhaul the system for businesses. House Democrats are also pushing broad tax cuts for the middle-class, to be paid for by new taxes on the wealthy.

Barthold has worked at JCT for more than a quarter century, and was promoted to chief of staff in 2009, a period of full Democratic control on Capitol Hill. But Republicans also applauded Barthold’s promotion at the time, and GOP lawmakers have frequently praised Barthold and the JCT’s work since Republicans took back the House in 2010.

Republicans have yet to say publicly whether they’ll keep Douglas Elmendorf, the director of the Congressional Budget Office, the other key scorekeeper on Capitol Hill.

Ryan and House Republicans are also now requiring that major tax bills be “dynamically” scored, meaning that JCT will seek to estimate whether a measure spurs or depresses economic growth. Such a move could give the sort of tax revamp that Ryan and Hatch want a better budget projection.

Republicans’ desire to use dynamic scoring has been a big part of the debate over whether to keep Elmendorf, even though Barthold and his team would be more responsible for tax projections.

The GOP says dynamic scoring gives lawmakers the most realistic picture of a measure’s impact on the economy, but Democrats have accused Republicans of rigging budget rules to favor the rich.

Hatch and Ryan’s decision to keep Barthold was first reported by Bloomberg