The Trump White House has decided against releasing midyear economic projections this summer, breaking precedent at a time when unemployment is expected to top 20 percent.
The Washington Post reports that the administration is not releasing updated economic projections that “would almost certainly codify an administration assessment that the coronavirus pandemic has led to a severe economic downturn” with massive job losses that have topped 36 million in just two months.
Budget experts who spoke with the Post said they were not aware of any other time when the White House had suppressed its own economic projections — and both Republican and Democratic economists said that the decision looked like it was influenced primarily by politics.
“It gets them off the hook for having to say what the economic outlook looks like,” conservative economic Douglas Holtz-Eakin explained.
“There is no logistical reason they couldn’t do it,” Bill Hoagland, a former Republican staff director for the Senate Budget Committee, told the Post. “It seems more likely they do not want to bring attention to the high level of unemployment they’d have to project for this year, and into next year.”
And Jared Bernstein, a former economic adviser to presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, said that not releasing the data will only harm economic policy making decisions.
“They’re never going to address the problems if they put these kinds of blinders on,” he said. “Managing the economy means publishing credible forecasts.”