CRS re-publishes unpublished truths


In mid-September, the non-partisan Congressional Research Service published a detailed report, documenting what many already knew: giving tax breaks to the rich helps concentrate wealth at the top, but it does not boost the economy. Republican lawmakers, led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), had the report killed.

A fascinating controversy followed, culminating in the facts making a comeback today (thanks to Mike Yarvitz for the tip).

On Thursday, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service republished an analysis that found no clear relationship between marginal high-end tax cuts and economic growth. […]

The new version (PDF) stands by the larger conclusion: “This analysis finds no conclusive evidence, however, to substantiate a clear relationship between the 65-year reduction in the top statutory tax rates and economic growth. Analysis of such data conducted for this report suggests the reduction in the top tax rates has had little association with saving, investment, or productivity growth. It is reasonable to assume that a tax rate change limited to a small group of taxpayers at the top of the income distribution would have a negligible effect on economic growth.”

Good for the CRS. It’s safe to assume McConnell’s office will throw another fit – the notion that cutting taxes on the rich necessarily boosts economic growth is a bedrock tenant of contemporary conservative thought – but free inquiry and intellectual integrity demand that accurate government reports see the light of day, regardless of political ideology.

To reiterate a point from earlier in the month, 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.

Republicans have adopted trickle-down, supply-side economics as the foundation for their entire worldview. The Congressional Research Service used reliable, objective information to report what most mainstream economists widely accepted – if the goal is boosting economic growth, giving people who are already rich a tax break doesn’t do anything except make the gap between rich and poor more dramatic.

But as is the case too often on the right, it’s easier to bury reality than deal with it.


Mitch McConnell and CRS

CRS re-publishes unpublished truths