Republican Pressure Leads to Withdrawal of Fact-Based Report by Nonpartisan CRS

November 1st, 2012 at 1:32 am

OK, this is scary.  Existentially scary.

As explained here by Jonathan Weisman for the NYT, due to pressure from Republicans, the Congressional Research Service is withdrawing a report that showed the lack of correlation between high end tax cuts and economic growth.

The study, by economist Tom Hungerford, is of high quality, and is one I’ve cited here at OTE.  Its findings are fairly common in the economics literature and the concerns raised by that noted econometrician Mitch McConnell are trumped up and bogus.  He and his colleagues don’t like the findings because they strike at the supply-side arguments that they hold so dear.

I’ll have a lot more to say about this later–running off to give a talk.  But this looks to me like pure suppression of a fact-based result that is discomforting to ideologues who want more trickle-down tax cuts.  You can tell me if you think I’m over-reacting, but this type of suppression is wholly inconsistent with democracy.

In that regard, I encourage you to make a lot of noise about this action by CRS.  Woe betide us as a nation if this stands.

Update: Here’s a copy of the study.  Note the author’s cautious language–he discusses the relations in terms of correlation as opposed to causation, which is correct.  He’s not saying tax cuts never generate growth.  He’s looking for correlations between high end tax changes and productivity or growth, and not finding them.

I’m seeing some real outrage spreading over this, which is a very good thing.  I really don’t think I’m exaggerating to assert that this type of fact suppression strikes at the heart of democracy.  As commenter EM said: this is an extremely sad day.

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11 comments in reply to "Republican Pressure Leads to Withdrawal of Fact-Based Report by Nonpartisan CRS"

  1. Tom Cantlon says:

    You’re not over-reacting. If the story stands as is, this would be a serious hit to the otherwise great credibility of one of the few organizations that almost everyone would have a hard time arguing with.

  2. Chris G says:

    >I encourage you to make a lot of noise about this action by CRS.

    Will do. And how do I (can I?) get a copy of the report?

    >Woe betide us as a nation if this stands.

    Indeed. If they have the power to do so, you can bank on the GOP de-funding research which would generate data likely to refute their ideological positions.

  3. Elaine Maag says:

    This is an extremely sad day. Let’s hope that this does not become customary, and that our nonpartisan government agencies can do the job they need to do. Less information is not what this country needs. If someone disagrees with a report, by all means, debate it. Suppression isn’t the answer.

  4. Rima Regas says:

    Shared, tweeted and G+’d. Disgusting!

  5. Bill Gatliff says:

    Is the pulling of a CRS report unprecedented? Are CRS reports frequently rebutted in subsequent reports? Does the conclusion of the report in question stand up to scrutiny by qualified reviewers?

    Do the authors of CRS reports often contribute to political parties and/or reelection campaigns? Do they disclose these contributions in their reports?

    I admit that on the surface, this event is greatly disturbing because it has been my impression that the CRS is intentionally nonpartisan—and this event smacks of partisanship. But without context, I can’t tell just how upset I should be.

    I have a hunch that I should be pretty upset, however…

  6. Dan Staley says:

    I’ve spread my outrage to my network, but I’d rather send an e-mail to DC. Who should we send it to Jared?

  7. Tom in MN says:

    They only get away with this if the voters let them. The fact that the GOP candidate can make up things and ignore science and yet has roughly half the votes in the country is what is really both sad and scary.

    Think Progress is quoting you on this, BTW. So keep up the good fight.

  8. Patricia says:

    It’s not like the findings are new by any stretch of the imagination. The NYT article goes on to point out that Mr. Hungerford gave $$$ to Democrats. Funny how these folks turn to casting aspersions on a person’s character to undermine their credibility. Funnier still in that they turn to this tactic lacking ANY credibility themselves. It would be funny of it weren’t so serious.

  9. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    Barry Ritholtz had a great post on this topic:

    Includes some good links, as well as commentary on the risks of allowing governing officials who appear to believe in witchcraft to shape economic policy.

    Meanwhile, a new organization called ‘econ4’ has a beautifully produced new video on the topic of job creation:

    In view of the burgeoning of finance-and-econ related blogs, as well as new institutions like INET and econ4, ‘that noted econometrician Mitch McConnell’ is on the losing end of history: if he has to subvert a federal agency in an attempt to control information, he’s already lost the battle. He’s acting like a desperate bananaRepublican, but the push-back against his silliness and sycophancy really is quite heartening.

    McConnell’s really exposing himself as something much worse than a dolt, and when it is called out on a blog as prominent as Ritholtz’s, who is quoting Bruce Bartlett, you know that something more than the coastline of Jersey is being swept away.