Ahead of Hearing on Jobs Crisis, Clyburn Calls on White House to Release Unemployment, Economic Projections
Washington, D.C. (June 18, 2020) — Today, Rep. James E. Clyburn, the Chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Acting Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers Tomas Philipson, and Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget Russ Vought, demanding the release of key unemployment and economic projections so Congress can seek solutions to help struggling Americans and prevent further economic damage.
“With more than 40 million Americans out of work—more than any time since the Great Depression—federal leadership to address this crisis is critical,” the Chairman wrote. “That starts with an open and honest assessment of the scope of the jobs crisis and how long it is likely to last.”
The Trump Administration has advanced a rosy economic outlook, with the President stating, “Jobs are rapidly coming back” and the economic recovery is “happening very quickly, way ahead of schedule.” However, experts predict high unemployment could last for months, and the White House is withholding key projections from the annual mid-session budget update despite longstanding bipartisan precedent.
“Concealing economic forecasts from the American people during a jobs crisis is counterproductive, in conflict with bipartisan precedent, and contrary to the intent of Congress. Now is not the time to ignore difficult facts about the direction of our economy or hard truths about the record-high unemployment across the country. Faced with job losses unmatched since the Great Depression, we should avail ourselves of the expertise of career federal officials to seek a path forward—not hide their analyses for short-term political gain. The federal government’s economic forecasts are the product of taxpayer dollars, and the government has a duty to share its analyses with Congress and the public.”
The President is required by law to send Congress a mid-session review of the nation’s budget and financial condition. For the last four decades, both Democratic and Republican presidents have provided projections on economic trends such as unemployment, inflation, and economic growth—including during the financial crisis in 2007 and 2008.
Today’s letter asks the Administration to confirm by June 21, 2020, whether it will provide these projections to Congress, and if not, to produce documents and information to the Select Subcommittee by July 2, 2020.
Today, the Select Subcommittee is holding a hearing with experts and economists to examine the magnitude of the unemployment crisis, the role of federal and state unemployment support, and steps needed to achieve a sustainable economic recovery. Many temporary economic assistance programs, including the $600 weekly increase in unemployment insurance benefits and the moratorium on evictions, will expire next month unless reauthorized by Congress.
Yesterday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell testified before Congress that “it would be a concern if Congress were to pull back from the support that it’s providing too quickly.”
Click here to read today’s letter.