It was reported on Thursday by the New York Times that Republicans in the Senate pressured Congressional Research Service, a nonpartisan group, to withdraw a report that found lowering marginal tax rates for wealthy Americans would not affect economic growth or the creation of jobs.
“The pressure applied to the research service comes amid a broader Republican effort to raise questions about research and statistics that were once trusted as nonpartisan and apolitical,” the Times reported. The report has been released once again, this time by Congressional Democrats. The Times was told by Republicans that they did not like the tone, scope and wording used in the report.
The CRS report, by researcher Thomas Hungerford, said:
The results of the analysis suggest that changes over the past 65 years in the top marginal tax rate and the top capital gains tax rate do not appear correlated with economic growth. The reduction in the top tax rates appears to be uncorrelated with saving, investment, and productivity growth. The top tax rates appear to have little or no relation to the size of the economic pie.
However, the top tax rate reductions appear to be associated with the increasing concentration of income at the top of the income distribution. As measured by IRS data, the share of income accruing to the top 0.1% of U.S. families increased from 4.2% in 1945 to 12.3% by 2007 before falling to 9.2% due to the 2007-2009 recession. At the same time, the average tax rate paid by the top 0.1% fell from over 50% in 1945 to about 25% in 2009. Tax policy could have a relation to how the economic pie is sliced—lower top tax rates may be associated with greater income disparities.
Michigan Representative Sandy Levin wrote a letter to the CRS that said, “The impartial research and advice provided by CRS experts informs and strengthens the work of Congress. However, this valuable role hinges on the impartiality of CRS analysts and their freedom from political pressure. As with other non-partisan institutions, subjecting CRS analysts to political considerations undermines the legislative process and the American people’s trust in it. Therefore I was deeply disturbed to hear that Mr. Hungerford’s 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 producer of the report from CRS, Thomas Hungerford, spoke to the Huffington Post about the issues at hand. “Basically, the decision to take it down, I think The New York Times article basically got it right, that it was pressure from the Senate minority to take it down,” Hungerford said. “CRS reports go through many layers of review before they’re issued and as far as the tone and the conclusions go, people who specifically look at the writing and the tone said it was okay. So it’s not going to be that and as I can tell you outright, I stand by the report and the analysis in the report.”