Nonpartisan research office pressed to disclose story behind withdrawn tax study

Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich. sent a letter asking when the report will be reposted and whether a congressional staff member had asked CRS to withdraw it. Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich. sent a letter asking when the report will be reposted and whether a congressional staff member had asked CRS to withdraw it. Harry Hamburg/AP file photo

House Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., is pressing the director of the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service to clarify the status of a recently withdrawn study of the economic impact of taxation on the wealthy.

In October, CRS managers responded to objections from Republican senators and temporarily withdrew a study released in September titled, “Taxes and the Economy: An Economic Analysis of the Top Tax Rates Since 1945.” Republican critics objected to the study’s tone and conclusions that cutting taxes on the wealthy does little to spur economic growth.

In an exchange of letters during the past two weeks with CRS Director Mary Mazanec, Levin asked when the report will be reposted and whether a congressional staff member had asked CRS to withdraw it.

Mazanec replied that “the report would benefit from more extensive documentation and explanation of the methodology underlying the economic analysis.” She said CRS alone made the decision to withdraw and update the report, and her service would not make such a decision solely at the request of one lawmaker or congressional staffer.

“We would quickly lose our value as an adviser to all members [of Congress] and staff if we were seen as having an agenda or bowing to partisan pressure,” she wrote. The updated version, she added, will be on the CRS website “shortly.”

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