Treasury watchdog to investigate why analysis of GOP tax bill was never made public

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. CREDIT: AP Photo/Alex Brandon

The Treasury Department’s inspector general has opened an inquiry into why the department’s analysis of the Republican tax plan hasn’t been released to the public, following a request from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) Thursday.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has been a strong advocate for the plan. As Warren notes in her letter, he has made sweeping promises about its effects, including saying that the plan will “pay for itself with growth” and pay down debt. Both claims have been disproven by a number of independent economists.

On Thursday, the Joint Committee on Taxation (a nonpartisan congressional committee) released its own analysis that estimated that the tax cuts Republicans hope to pass will add $1 trillion to the deficit, and even the most generous analyses assuming strong economic growth do not show that the bill would “pay for itself.”

“Despite a lack of evidence to support his assertions, has claimed that ‘100 people are working around the clock on running scenarios for us’ to show that these corporate tax cuts will pay for themselves,” Warren writes in her Thursday letter to Inspector General Eric Thorson that called for an inquiry.

Mnuchin, as Warren notes, has promised to release the department’s analysis, but, she writes in her letter, “as Senate Republicans prepare to vote within the next day on the tax plan, the Department of the Treasury has failed to produce any economic analysis” supporting his claims.

Letter via Alan Rappeport

“In fact,” she writes, “they haven’t released any formal analysis of the bill’s economic impact at all.”

Mnuchin, Warren argues, “grossly” misled the public. The senator wants to know if the bill was ever actually analyzed, as well as whether there was political inference regarding its release.

“Either the Treasury Department has used extensive taxpayer funds to conduct economic analyses that it refuses to release because those analyses would contradict the Treasury Secretary’s claims, or Secretary Mnuchin has grossly misled the public about the extent of the Treasury Department’s analysis,” Warren wrote. “I am deeply concerned about either possibility.”

The Office of the Inspector General’s Rich Delmar confirmed to Bloomberg News that the office had opened an inquiry into the matter following Warren’s letter Thursday and said it was a “top priority.”

And there’s a chance they might find nothing at all.

A Treasury official told the New York Times Thursday that the department had not had sufficient time to produce an analysis of the tax plan, as Republicans introduced the bill November 1 and aim to pass it before the end of this week.

To make matters worse, in September, the department removed a study on corporate tax cuts from their website that undermines Mnuchin’s claims.

But none of that seems to bother Republican senators.

On Thursday evening, some in the GOP called for a “trigger” in the bill that would require automatic tax increases if revenue growth didn’t meet projections, but the idea was struck down by the Senate parliamentarian.

Ultimately, all Republican senators voted to move the bill forward Thursday, which could bring the plan to a floor vote soon.