Mnuchin: WH won't double-count economic growth

Mnuchin: WH won't double-count economic growth
© Greg Nash

The Trump administration does not intend to double-count the economic growth produced by tax reform, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday, amid criticism from Democrats over the math in the administration's budget.

Democrats expressed concern during a Thursday Senate Finance Committee hearing about the accounting in President Trump's budget, which estimates about $2 trillion in additional revenue from economic growth.

But the budget doesn't include details about tax reform, and Mnuchin has said in the past that economic growth would help pay for tax reform, raising questions over whether the administration was counting the $2 trillion in two different ways.

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"Unless you make this clear to us, aren't you double-counting the same $2 trillion to pay down deficits that you claim will pay for tax reform?" Senate Finance Committee ranking member Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHillicon Valley: Kremlin seeks more control over Russian internet | Huawei CEO denies links to Chinese government | Facebook accused of exposing health data | Harris calls for paper ballots | Twitter updates ad rules ahead of EU election Kremlin seeks more control over internet in Russia Wisconsin governor to propose decriminalization of marijuana MORE (D-Ore.) asked.

"This is kind of Bernie Madoff math, but maybe I'm missing something."

Mnuchin said that the administration "absolutely" isn't planning to double-count economic growth.

"When the president's budget was done, we were not ready to have a full-blown tax reform plan that we could model into the budget, so we haven't put that in. We have put in the economic impact, as you've pointed out. There are other areas that are extremely conservative," he said.

"But I assure you when we present a tax plan, we will not be double-counting the growth."

Wyden appeared unsatisfied with Mnuchin's answer.

"We're told that sometime down the road, you won't double-count," he said. "I would sure like to see, as we've talked about, more specifics, because I don't see how your plan doesn't blow a multitrillion-dollar hole in the deficit."

Later in the hearing, Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillMcCaskill: Lindsey Graham 'has lost his mind' Trey Gowdy joins Fox News as a contributor The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Trump AG pick Barr grilled at hearing | Judge rules against census citizenship question | McConnell blocks second House bill to reopen government MORE (D-Mo.) also asked if the budget was double-counting revenues from economic growth, and Mnuchin answered similarly, saying economic growth isn't just coming from tax reform and is also coming from trade and regulatory policies.

"There's plenty of other things that will also impact the growth," he said.

McCaskill responded, "How can this document be taken seriously?" 

Mnuchin said the budget was "completely transparent."

"Nobody's trying to hide anything," he said.