The Congressional Research Service has withdrawn an economic report that found no correlation between top tax rates and economic growth, a central tenet of conservative economic theory, after Senate Republicans raised concerns about the paper’s findings and wording.
The decision, made in late September against the advice of the agency’s economic team leadership, drew almost no notice at the time. Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, cited the study a week and a half after it was withdrawn in a speech on tax policy at the National Press Club.
But it could actually draw new attention to the report, which questions the premise that lowering the top marginal tax rate stimulates economic growth and job creation.
“This has hues of a banana republic,” Mr. Schumer said. “They didn’t like a report, and instead of rebutting it, they had them take it down.”
The GOP was upset that the report confirmed what most of us already know: Tax cuts for the wealthy have no effect on the economy and don’t create jobs. But, hey if you don’t like the facts them bury them. Writing at The Maddow Blog, Steve Benen explained that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell insisted the report be withdrawn because people outside of Congress concerns about the report. Those concerns were raised by conservatives from think tanks such as The Heritage Foundation who oppose tax increases on the one percent.
It’s important to understand that the Congressional Research Service, generally recognized as Congress’ own think tank, has a well-deserved reputation for non-partisanship. The CRS is counted on to provide lawmakers with the most reliable and accurate information available, and the notion that partisan lawmakers can pressure, censor, and possibly even intimidate independent researchers is simply unacceptable.
In other words, we just can’t have public offices’ scholarship being stifled because Republicans find reality politically inconvenient. Our system of government isn’t supposed to work this way.
Nor as Benen continues is the first time a report has been stifled by Republicans because it was politically inconvenient and didn’t fit their policy agenda.
This was consistently one of the more offensive hallmarks of the Bush/Cheney era. In 2005, for example, after a government report showed an increase in terrorism around the world, the administration announced it would stop publishing its annual report on international terrorism. Reality proved problematic, so rather than addressing the problem, the Republican administration decided to hide the reality.
Soon after, the Bush administration was discouraged by data about factory closings in the U.S., the administration announced it would stop publishing information about factory closings.
When Bush’s Department of Education found that charter schools were underperforming, the administration said it would sharply cut back on the information it collects about charter schools.
The Bush administration worked from a strange assumption: if we get rid of the data pointing to a problem, maybe the problem won’t look so bad. It redefined ridiculous governing, but it seemed to make Republicans feel better to bury their heads in the sand. If a report tells you something you don’t want to hear, the obvious move is to get rid of the report.
“If a report tells you something you don’t want to hear, the obvious move is to get rid of the report”, yeah, that works.