Grassley raises concerns about objectivity of report critical of GOP tax law's effects

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGrassley raises concerns about objectivity of report critical of GOP tax law’s effects Overnight Health Care: Key Trump drug pricing proposal takes step forward | Missouri Planned Parenthood clinic loses bid for license | 2020 Democrats to take part in Saturday forum on abortion rights Key Trump proposal to lower drug prices takes step forward MORE (R-Iowa) is pressing the Congressional Research Service (CRS) on its finding that the 2017 GOP tax law had little to no impact on the economy in its first year, saying that his staff and others are concerned that the report wasn’t objective.

In a letter to CRS on Friday, Grassley requested the service meet with his staff.

“If CRS wishes to produce original research analysis that takes a position and tone that is favorable to one side of a debate, without balancing it with alternative objective views, then CRS ought not to present its analysis as objective, nonpartisan, and authoritative,” Grassley wrote.

“One immediate question that arises is whether CRS subjects its original research to any sort of balanced and objective external peer-review process,” he added. “Another is: how should Congress and the Public interpret research analysis of the economy when faced with differences that arise between CRS and our scorekeepers, the Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation, when all are to be regarded as authoritative voices of Congress.” 

The CRS, an entity within the Library of Congress, issued a report last month that found that the GOP tax law had a minimal effect, if any, on economic growth in 2018.

Democratic lawmakers and liberal policy experts have highlighted the report as evidence that the tax law has fallen short of Republicans’ expectations.

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But Republicans are pushing back on the CRS report. Earlier this month, the Treasury Department told lawmakers that it thinks the methodology of the report is “flawed.”

Grassley attached to his letter a review of the CRS report from his staff that stated, “The report is concerning, especially when taken widely to be an authoritative and objective assessment.”

The staff review said that recent positive economic statistics are consistent with many of the tax law’s supporters’ objectives.

“Unfortunately, observations that seem to differ in substance and tone from those offered recently by CRS did not seem to be weighed or considered in CRS’s compilation of preliminary observations of possible effects of the [Tax Cuts and Jobs Act] on the economy,” Grassley’s staff wrote. “It seems clear that CRS did not undertake a very comprehensive survey of competing views when providing Congress with analysis that purports to adhere to the values of objectivity and nonpartisanship.” 

Grassley’s staff also criticized the report for citing data about company bonuses that was compiled by a liberal group opposed to the GOP tax law and said the CRS in some places used its own estimates that may be inconsistent with estimates from the Congressional Budget Office.

A CRS spokesperson said Friday that the service received the letter and is reviewing it. 

The spokesperson and report author Jane Gravelle told The Hill earlier this month that they stand by the report.

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