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 MnuchinOn The Money: US trade chief casts doubt on Canada joining new deal | House panel invites Watt accuser to testify | Brady defends GOP message on tax cuts Trump: Venezuela is 'one of the truly bad places in the world today' Treasury targets Maduro's wife, inner circle with financial sanctions 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 WydenOn The Money: US trade chief casts doubt on Canada joining new deal | House panel invites Watt accuser to testify | Brady defends GOP message on tax cuts Under attack: Because we don’t vote Republican Dems offer resolution to force vote to overturn IRS guidance limiting donor disclosure MORE (D-Ore.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenLawmakers unveil massive bipartisan bill aimed at fighting opioid crisis Dems push back on using federal funds to arm teachers Admiral defends record after coming under investigation in 'Fat Leonard' scandal 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.