Republicans are not happy that their tax bills will probably add more than a trillion dollars to the federal deficit. But instead of making major changes to their legislation, some are just attacking the congressional office in charge of scoring the economic impact of their tax proposals.
On Friday, as Senate Republicans worked to get enough support to pass their tax bill, George W. Bush's former tax cut architect blasted the analysis of the Joint Committee on Taxation. He accused the JCT of "playing games" to thwart the bill, according to a note obtained by CNBC.
On Thursday, the JCT determined that the latest Senate version of the tax bill will add more than $1 trillion to the deficit, even factoring in potential economic growth that could result from cutting taxes. Their analysis has strained tax negotiations in the Senate, where Republicans can only lose three votes to pass their bill. Several lawmakers have expressed concerns about blowing up the deficit.
Larry Lindsey, the former Bush adviser who now heads a private economic advisory firm, thinks its better blame the JCT than come up with a better bill. In a note to a client, he said JCT's analysis was "absurd," according to CNBC, and said the analysts are "part of the swamp."
"In effect, the results of the model are just what the staff decides they are since they are the ones in control of the parameters of the model," Lindsey wrote. "The staff uses the artifice of a black box model to come to whatever conclusion they want."
Lindsey was an economic policy adviser to President George W. Bush and director of the National Economic Council from 2000 to 2001. He was one of the key architects of Bush's $1.35 trillion tax cut plan, which ended up mostly benefiting the wealthiest 1 percent of American taxpayers.
Those tax cuts didn't pay for themselves with economic growth either, despite Lindsey's claims at the time that they would. In 2002, Lindsey resigned from his role at the White House amid concerns about the sluggish US economy.
"Despite promises from proponents of the tax cuts, evidence suggests that they did not improve economic growth or pay for themselves, but instead ballooned deficits and debt and contributed to a rise in income inequality," wrote Emily Horton, an economist at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
The JCT's analysis of the current tax bill suggests the same thing will happen this time around — and that's a reality Republicans don't seem willing to face.