Clyburn Demands Answers From White House On Decision To Block Economic Projections
Washington, D.C. (July 1, 2020) -- Today, Rep. James E. Clyburn, Chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Vice Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers Tyler Goodspeed, and Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget Russ Vought, demanding documents on the Trump Administration’s refusal to carry out economic projections and urging the Administration to reverse the decision to withhold these projections from Congress.
“As the pandemic wreaks havoc with renewed force on our communities, it is essential that the Administration provides complete and accurate economic information to the American people and Congress—not rosy and unsupported predictions designed to serve political purposes,” the Chairman wrote.
On June 26, 2020, the Subcommittee received a letter from OMB in response to a June 18, 2020 letter from Chairman Clyburn. OMB confirmed reports that the Trump Administration had decided to exclude economic forecasts from this year’s mid-session review, despite longstanding bipartisan precedent. OMB justified the decision to withhold the projections by citing “unprecedented economic volatility” and asserting, “It would be a disservice to policymakers and the public to calculate and release forecasts in which the Administration has little or no confidence.”
Despite the Administration’s acknowledgement that it has “little or no confidence” in its own ability to accurately forecast economic changes, Administration officials have continued to make unsupported claims to the public about the state of the economy and the prospect of a rapid recovery. Just this week, National Economic Council Chairman Larry Kudlow stated, “At the moment, the story looks very good. We’re set for a V-shaped recovery.” Last week, Secretary Mnuchin asserted, “You’re going to see a spectacular rebound off the bottom in the third quarter,” and Vice President Pence said, “the recovery is on.”
These claims have been directly contradicted by economists who recently testified before the Select Subcommittee. For example, Harvard Professor Jason Furman, the former Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, testified, “we remain in the worst crisis the American labor market has faced on record,” and stated, “The United States economy is in a much worse place for the second half of this year because of the lack of success in containing the virus.”
In light of the Administration’s refusal to produce economic forecasts to Congress—even as senior Administration officials continue to make unfounded claims about the economy—today’s letter renewed the Subcommittee’s earlier request to release the economic projections and produce all documents and communications regarding the decision on whether to provide them to Congress. The Subcommittee extended the deadline to produce these documents to July 16, 2020.
Click here to read today’s letter.