Politics, Moderate



The report Trump officials don't want you to see

Catherine Rampell on

Until now.

That's because Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has been lately claiming that nearly all of the corporate tax burden is passed on to workers. It's an argument that he has to make if he hopes to sell the administration's tax cuts -- which even a large share of Republicans opposes -- as a helping hand for the Forgotten Man.

On Fox News, Mnuchin claimed that "most economists believe that over 70 percent of corporate taxes are paid for by the workers." At an event in Kentucky, he declared that "over 80 percent of business taxes is borne by the worker."

Tax watchers and interviewers began pointing out that Mnuchin's claims were at odds not only with most credible estimates but also with those of his own staff.

Which clearly annoyed Mnuchin.

So Treasury took the unusual -- unprecedented? -- step of quietly deleting the inconvenient findings from its website.


It's not clear when this erasure happened. The paper's disappearance was first reported last week by the Wall Street Journal's ace tax reporter, Richard Rubin. When I requested an interview with Treasury about the deletion, a spokesperson emailed me that "the paper was a dated staff analysis from the previous administration. It does not represent our current thinking and analysis."

Which is a peculiar excuse, and not only because the paper was produced by nonpolitical staffers who still work at Treasury.

Updates to methodology -- if that's really all this was -- do not require deletion of older technical reports, which normally stay archived online for transparency reasons. Four decades' worth of other Office of Tax Analysis working papers somehow remain online, even though many of those have been superseded by subsequent reports.

In removing the paper, Trump officials are making it easier to conceal what their tax plan does, and whom it helps. This is part of a broader GOP effort to duck accountability.


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