November 2, 2012
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The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) issued a report in September that showed that cutting tax rates for the wealthiest Americans did not spur economic or job growth, refuting a key Republican justification for the party’s continued obsession with maintaining the tax cuts for the wealthy they passed in 2003. But when Senate Republicans aired seemingly minor complaints about it, the agency quietly withdrew the report, even as its economic team advised it to stand firm.
The report, as ThinkProgress reported in September, found that tax cuts for the rich spurred income inequality, not economic growth. “There is not conclusive evidence, however, to substantiate a clear relationship between the 65-year steady reduction in the top tax rates and economic growth,” the report stated. “However, the top tax rate reductions appear to be associated with the increasing concentration of income at the top of the income distribution.”
The withdrawal came after Republicans like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) aired minor quibbles about language the report used that he viewed as “ politically freighted,” the New York Times reports:
Senate Republican aides said they protested both the tone of the report and its findings. Aides to Mr. McConnell presented a bill of particulars to the research service that included objections to the use of the term “Bush tax cuts” and the report’s reference to “tax cuts for the rich,” which Republicans contended was politically freighted.
Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee also aired methodological questions about the study, a spokesperson told the New York Times. But a Times source inside the CRS said that the report was pulled even as its top economic team, including the study’s author, stood by its finding. Outside economists, like Vice President Biden’s former adviser Jared Bernstein, said the study was methodologically sound and that the GOP attack on it “sounds to me like a complete political hit job.”
Despite Republican efforts to block the findings of the CRS study, others have shown similar results. Even Republicans have admitted in the past that the Bush tax cuts didn’t spur the job and economic growth the party promised, and if nonpartisan studies aren’t enough, history makes the same case. Since Republicans began instituting supply-side policies under President Reagan, growth has lagged andincome inequality has surged as the wealthiest Americans make more money while paying less in taxes.