New York Times, Republicans Sought to Undercut an Unfavorable Analysis of the Tax Plan:
A Republican requirement that Congress consider the full cost of major legislation threatened to derail the party’s $1.5 trillion tax rewrite last week. So lawmakers went on the offensive to discredit the agency performing the analysis.
In 2015, Republicans changed the budget rules in Congress so that official scorekeepers would be required to analyze the potential economic impact of major legislation when determining how it would affect federal revenues.
But on Thursday, hours before they were set to vote on the largest tax cut Congress has considered in years, Senate Republicans opened an assault on that scorekeeper, the Joint Committee on Taxation, and its analysis, which showed the Senate plan would not, as lawmakers contended, pay for itself but would add $1 trillion to the federal budget deficit.
Public statements and messaging documents obtained by The New York Times show a concerted push by Republican lawmakers to discredit a nonpartisan agency they had long praised. Party leaders circulated two pages of “response points” that declared “the substance, timing and growth assumptions of J.C.T.’s ‘dynamic’ score are suspect.” Among their arguments was that the joint committee was using “consistently wrong” growth models to assess the effect the tax cuts would have on hiring, wages and investment.
The Republican response points go after revenue analyses by the committee and by the Congressional Budget Office, which scores other legislation, saying their findings “can be off to the tune of more than $1.5 trillion over ten years.”
The swift backlash helped defuse concerns about the deficit impact long enough for the bill to pass by a vote of 51 to 49. Some deficit hawks in the Senate caucus were sufficiently concerned about the report on Thursday night to delay the tax vote by a day, but the only Republican lawmaker to vote no was Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, whose last-minute efforts to cut the size of the package or otherwise offset the deficit impact were unsuccessful.
Instead, Senate Republicans questioned the timing of the analysis’ release on Thursday, and a spokeswoman for the Senate Finance Committee released a statement saying the findings are “curious and deserve further scrutiny.”