According to The New York Times, the non-partisan Congressional Research Service pulled a report from its website after “after Senate Republicans raised concerns about the paper’s findings and wording.” The unit of the Library of Congress did so, despite objections from its economic team.
The issue here is that the report found that there was little correlation between economic growth and the taxes imposed on the very wealthy. The idea that tax cuts for the rich spur economic growth has been a Republican tenet for decades.
According to the Times, Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said McConnell and other senators expressed concerns about “methodology and other flaws.”
The Times reports:
“Mr. Stewart added that people outside of Congress had also criticized the study and that officials at the research service “decided, on their own, to pull the study pending further review.”
“Senate Republican aides said they protested both the tone of the report and its findings. Aides to Mr. McConnell presented a bill of particulars to the research service that included objections to the use of the term ‘Bush tax cuts‘ and the report’s reference to ‘tax cuts for the rich,’ which Republicans contended was politically freighted.”
The author of the study, the Times notes, has donated $5,000 this election to Democrats including Obama.
Reacting to the Times report, Democratic Rep. Sander Levin, of the House Ways and Means Committee, sent a letter to CRS Director Mary B. Mazanec.
According to Politico, Levin said he was “deeply disturbed” that the report “was taken down in response to political pressure from congressional Republicans who had ideological objections to the report’s factual findings and conclusion.”
The Washington Post‘s Ezra Klein, who leans left, has posted the report on his website. He said it was given to him in September but he never wrote about it because it didn’t reveal anything new.
“Analysis of such data suggests the reduction in the top tax rates have had little association with saving, investment, or productivity growth,” the study found. “However, the top tax rate reductions appear to be associated with the increasing concentration of income at the top of the income distribution.”
Perhaps what’s most interesting about this New York Times report is that it comes after Republicans have repeatedly questioned the reliability of government produced data.
In July, for example, Republicans introduced a bill “to force the nonpartisan [Congressional Budget Office] to divulge for the first time all of its sources and methods for scoring legislation,” The Hill reported.
More recently, if you remember, some Republicans suggested the Bureau of Labor Statistics had cooked the unemployment numbers for September in order to benefit President Obama.
Klein argues that sniping at reports is absolutely fine.
“Criticize the report. Dismiss it. Ignore it. Release your own,” he writes. “But don’t get it pulled. And so, in the spirit of free inquiry, here’s the report, in full. Read it for yourself.”