Friday, November 2, 2012

Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Republicans Try To Censor Report That Shows No Connection Between Low Taxes For Millionaires and Economic Growth

Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Republicans Try To Censor Report That Shows No Connection Between Low Taxes For Millionaires and Economic Growth

The New York Times reports that on September 28 the Library of Congress's nonpartisan Congressional Research Service withdrew, under pressure from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R.-Ky., and other Senate Republicans, a widely-circulated study concluding that since 1945 tax cuts have had no measurable impact on economic growth. I have cited the study repeatedly since its September 14 release, and so have many other journalists and academics within what Karl Rove once scornfully called the “reality-based community.” The withdrawal won’t have any impact on the report’s availability, except perhaps that more people will read it now. That's because CRS reports are never released to the public anyway. (Its Web site is useless unless you're looking for a job there.) They’re released to members of Congress. Then the interesting ones trickle out onto nongovernmental Web sites or those of individual senators or representatives. McConnell can tell the New York Times all he wants to take down its copy of the report, but he probably won't bother, because it’s public information and it has no conceivable relevance to national security.

The withdrawal is, nonetheless, outrageous. McConnell spokesman Don Stewart told the Times that the CRS report wasn’t just criticized by Republican senators; it was also criticized by what the Times (in a paraphrase) calls “people outside of Congress.” I wish the Times had taken the opportunity to say who these “people outside of Congress” are. You can probably guess. There’s the conservative Heritage Foundation. And there’s the Tax Foundation, a conservative nonprofit (not to be confused with the Tax Policy Center, which is non-ideological and nonpartisan but has nonetheless been vilified by the right for pointing out that Mitt Romney’s proposed tax cut benefited the rich at the expense of the middle class). The author of the CRS study, Thomas Hungerford, has written many excellent studies on themes directly or indirectly related to income distribution, and that’s made him a conservative target for some time. This past April, Kevin Hassett of the conservative American Enterprise Institute (a prominent income-inequality denialist and Romney adviser doomed never to live down his co-authorship, shortly before the dot-com bust, of a book titled Dow 36,000) testified before Congress’s  Joint Economic Committee that a different Hungerford report was “radically at odds with the literature. I relish academic debate, and think that authors serve a valuable service when they challenge research. But a CRS report that is supposed to inform about the consensus of the literature that veers so far from that activity is a disservice to Congress, and the taxpayers.” When Hassett cites “the literature” he means “the literature acceptable to AEI hacks and their Republican allies in Congress,” or what Jacob Weisberg has felicitously labelled “the Conintern.”

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What’s the matter with the CRS report? Well, it calls the Bush tax cuts “the Bush tax cuts,” which is somehow deemed partisan but in fact is merely explanatory. The Bush tax cuts were tax cuts passed when George W. Bush was president. Bush proposed them, pushed them through Congress, and signed them into law. Even Republicans call the Bush tax cuts “the Bush tax cuts.” The CRS report also stands accused of making reference to “tax cuts for the rich.” This is unacceptably hurtful, I suppose, to a group that any sensitive person would know to call the “special-incomed.” As it happens, though, my PDF search of the CRS report reveals that nowhere does the phrase “tax cuts for the rich” appear. The word “rich” does appear here and there, but always in a neutral context, such as, “Under both definitions of the top of the income distribution (i.e., the rich) the income shares were relatively stable until the late 1970s and then started to rise.”

I'm not sure why Mitch and his gang of lying sleazebags thinks this report is so special. The reports have been showing for years that the wealthy just squirrel away their wealth when the taxes on their unearned income are low -  15 Things Conservative Republicans Do Not Want You to Know About Taxes and the Debt. The nation's infrastructure gets beaten down, we spend less on science research, and on education and the environment. The general quality of life goes down because the wealthy are allowed to be piggish with the total GDP produced by the nation.This is a link to the report to download - for as long as the link is good anyway.

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