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How did Trump find 137 economists who support his tax plan?

December 1, 2017

Donald Trump has tweeted just three times since the BIG NEWS hit earlier today — once about World AIDS Day, once about the rampant speculation that Rex Tillerson is about to be fired, and once about support among economists for his tax plan:

 

 

Clearly, he’s waging a dishonest and politically correct War on Flynn-mas, because he hasn’t mentioned Michael Flynn’s guilty plea once. Indeed, as Americans of all creeds and ethnicities celebrate this festive new tradition, Trump refuses to even say the words “Merry Flynn-mas.”

 

But, whatever.

 

Even more puzzling is where Trump managed to dig up 137 economists who think his tax plan will spur enough growth to fully compensate for its revenue losses. Consider that the Joint Committee on Taxation just released an analysis concluding that, even with economic growth factored in, the plan would blow a $1 trillion hole in the national debt

 

Further, Trump’s assertion completely contradicts a survey from University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, which asked 42 economists whether the tax plan would lead to significant growth, and whether it would lead to bigger deficits. Only one economist thought the tax law would significantly boost the economy, and to a person they thought the plan would balloon the deficit:

 

“How could it be otherwise?” asked MIT’s Daron Acemoglu. “Cut taxes. Lose money. Repeat,” said Goolsbee. “This is at least is clear,” said Yale’s William Nordhaus: “No way the growth effects will be strong enough to offset the revenue losses.” Even Darrell Duffie, the sole economist who agreed that the bill would boost GDP, says the plan will

pile on debt.

 

So here, then, is the verdict of the economics profession. The growth benefits of the Republican tax plans are either nonexistent or uncertain. The increase in debt, by contrast, seems certain.

 

So what’s going on?

 

Well, remember when Trump touted unscientific online polls as proof that he won his debates with Hillary Clinton? Seems like we have more of the same going on here.

 

While the University of Chicago’s results are derived from an ongoing survey of Nobel Prize winners, White House veterans, and former heads of the American Economic Association, it appears that the open letter Trump is citing includes a gaggle of self-selected and cherry-picked economists.

 

The first economist on the list, James C. Miller III, was Ronald Reagan’s former budget director. What else is he going to say? We’ve been blowing smoke up your gullible asses for the past three decades?

 

One hundred thirty-seven economists may sound like a lot, but just to put that number in perspective, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 19,380 people worked as economists in this country as of May 2016. So 137 economists are just .7 percent of the total. That’s less than the percentage of climate scientists who deny climate change.

 

Feel free to take a look at the list of 137 signatories to the open letter that Trump is publicly promoting. They all seem legit, but again, if you look hard enough you can find people — even people with advanced degrees — who will flout the conventional wisdom on just about any issue.

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