The Trump administration has drafted preliminary economic growth forecasts in its federal budget planning that rely on assumptions that are far rosier than projections made by independent agencies and most private forecasters, according to several people familiar with the discussions. [...]What's unusual about the administration's forecasts isn't just their relative optimism but also the process by which they were derived. Normally, the executive branch starts with a baseline forecast prepared by career staff of the CEA.... Discussions for the Trump administration unfolded differently, with transition officials telling the CEA staff the growth targets that their budget would produce and asking them to backfill other estimates off those figures.
It's customary for the White House to produce a budget forecast that is a bit rosier than what Congress, the Federal Reserve, or private sector forecasts generate. It's unusually for it to be so wildly at odds with the consensus.That's in part because most presidents lack Trump's shamelessness. Another part is that most presidents would worry that if you order CEA staff to make up fake numbers, they will leak that to the Wall Street Journal.But perhaps the biggest part is that normally presidents are trying, on some level, to work with Congress to get things done. Congress needs to use Congressional Budget Office numbers when legislating, so a fake White House forecast doesn't help a president's allies on the Hill. In effect, Trump is simply tossing congressional Republicans a hot potato -- telling them that he is disavowing responsibility for any of the trade-offs inherent in governing, and that the responsibility is all on them to work things out.