Saturday, October 7, 2017

Has a Think Tank Just Sunk the Tax Reform Bill?

A think tank specializing in tax policy is causing a massive stir with an analysis it recently released about the Republican tax reform framework.  Here is more from The Hill:

The hottest feud in Washington is between Republicans and the Tax Policy Center (TPC).
Some prominent GOP lawmakers and conservatives are outraged with the wonky joint venture of the left-leaning Urban Institute and Brookings Institution. The group released a study Friday that said the GOP’s tax reform framework would mostly benefit the rich, increase taxes on some middle-income people and lower federal revenue by $2.4 trillion over a decade.
The study was widely covered in the press, drawing front-page stories in The New York Times and Washington Post. The coverage ran counter to the White House’s messaging, which labeled the tax plan the “middle-class miracle.”
Republicans have responded by going after the Tax Policy Center, arguing the group is biased and used inaccurate assumptions to reach its conclusions.
Republican animosity toward the TPC goes back several years. They were highly critical of an analysis the group did in 2012 that found then-Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s tax plan would benefit the rich.
The group “essentially sandbagged a Romney tax proposal,” said GOP strategist Ford O’Connell.

In response to TPC's tax analysis report, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said, "It's odd...that the analysis came with a disclaimer that it was expressing only the views of the authors, not the think tank itself.  Even more unusual, no specific authors were listed on the analysis, probably because no respectable academic or researcher was willing to have their name associated with something so haphazardly cobbled together."

TPC's Director, Mark Mazur, said the paper was listed as authored by TPC staff "because there were a large number of people who worked on the report."

Mazur, who served in former President Barack Obama's Treasury Department, also noted that some at the think tank have been involved with Republican administrations.  However, it is unclear if any Republicans worked on the paper.

Kevin Hassett, the new Chair of the White House's Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) and a former scholar at American Enterprise Institute (AEI), slammed the TPC report.

The Wall Street Journal said that even though the media routinely labels TPC as "nonparitsan," its "record of hostility to any Republican tax reform that cuts tax rates shows the opposite."

TPC definitely gets little love from conservatives.  Here is a 2012 report from the Heritage Foundation saying TPC had a "skewed analysis" of Gov. Romney's tax plan.

Even back in 2016 Trump advisers were accusing the TPC of bias.