A Failure to Disclose

‘Nonpartisan’ Obama Donor Authors Pro-Tax-Hike Report

September 19, 2012

The author of a study that says tax cuts on high-incomes and small businesses have little to no impact on economic growth has personally donated at least $3,400 to President Obama since 2008—a fact that the media outlets touting the study have failed to disclose.

The author, Thomas L. Hungerford, also gave at least $2,450 to Democratic campaign committees during that same period.

Hungerford is a public finance specialist at the Congressional Research Service (CRS), the nonpartisan agency that provides "policy and legal analysis" for members of Congress.

"CRS is well-known for analysis that is authoritative, confidential, objective and nonpartisan," reads the CRS website. "Its highest priority is to ensure that Congress has 24/7 access to the nation’s best thinking."

Hungerford has also donated at least $500 to Al Gore, the Current TV executive and chakra guru who lost to George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential election.

At the time of the donation Hungerford was working for the Social Security Administration. He previously worked at the Office of Management and Budget during the Clinton Administration.

Hungerford and CRS director Mary Mazanec did not immediately return requests for comment.

The CRS study, released on Sept. 14, was timely campaign fodder for the president. Obama wants to raise taxes on individuals and small businesses earning at least $200,000 a year, while his opponent Mitt Romney, who wants to lower tax rates on all levels of income.

Obama has repeatedly accused Republicans of proposing lower taxes as the solution to every problem.

"You want to make a restaurant reservation or book a flight? You don’t need the new iPhone, you just use a tax cut," he joked of the Republican philosophy during a campaign event in Ohio earlier this week.

The ThinkProgress blog, a project of the left-wing Center for American Progress Action Fund, jumped on Hungerford’s report.

"According to a new report by the Congressional Research Service, cutting taxes for the wealthiest does not cause economic growth, despite constant conservative claims that it will," wrote a ThinkProgress blogger. "Instead, tax cuts for the rich merely exacerbate income inequality, CRS found."

The San Francisco Chronicle editorialized about the CRS report, arguing, "This is more evidence that ending the Bush tax cuts is the right thing to do. This nation needs to start creating jobs, and an extension of tax cuts is not the solution."

CNBC reported, "Cutting taxes for the wealthy does not generate faster economic growth, but may widen the income gap between the rich and the rest, according to a new report."

None of these outlets identified Hungerford as an Obama donor. The CRS has also failed to identify him as such.

The conservative Heritage Foundation, meanwhile, slammed the CRS report, arguing that the findings represent little more than "stylistic correlations" that "prove nothing."

The flawed study, wrote Heritage senior policy analyst Curtis Dubay, "called into question the quality of CRS analysis and the institution’s credibility as non-partisan."

Hungerford has previously conducted analysis for the AARP, which used his work to help defeat President Bush’s Social Security reform efforts in 2005.

The Obama campaign frequently cites "independent" analysis to support its claims about the economy. In a number of cases, the analyses they have cited were authored by economists with close ties to the Democratic Party.

Obama has repeatedly cited a study by the "nonpartisan" Tax Policy Center, which was co-authored by Adam Looney, an economist who previously served on Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers.

When the president proposed his $450 billion jobs plan—the American Jobs Act—in September 2011, the administration touted a favorable "independent" study from Macroeconomic Advisers, a forecasting firm run by Laurence Meyer.

Meyer is an economic consultant and former Clinton appointee who has donated at least $3,000 to Obama since 2008.