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 MnuchinHillicon Valley: Facebook weighs crackdown on anti-vaccine content | Lyft challenges Trump fuel standards rollback | Illinois tries to woo Amazon | New round of China trade talks next week On The Money: Trump declares emergency at border | Braces for legal fight | Move divides GOP | Trump signs border deal to avoid shutdown | Winners, losers from spending fight | US, China trade talks to resume next week Treasury sanctions top Maduro allies in Venezuela 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 WydenHigh stakes as Trump, Dems open drug price talks Dem lawmaker: 'Trump's presidency is the real national emergency' Dems introduce bill to take gender-specific terms out of tax code to make it LGBT-inclusive MORE (D-Ore.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenSenate Dems introduce bill to prevent Trump from using disaster funds to build wall Klobuchar, O'Rourke visit Wisconsin as 2020 race heats up Sherrod Brown pushes for Medicare buy-in proposal in place of 'Medicare for all' 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.