Kevin Hassett and Irwin Steltzer Join in on the Fiscal Dishonesty

Brad DeLong is annoyed at the latest from Irwin Stelzer:

Hassett and others in the administration point out that despite a hefty reduction in the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, government revenues rose by $3.3 trillion in the fiscal year just ended. In part this is because the economy is growing at around a 4 percent rate in response to the tax cuts and to a revival of animal spirits as entrepreneurs and corporate chieftains wake up in the morning wondering not what the government is going to do to them, but what it might do for them. So Trump may yet be proven right. And if that proof does not emerge by 2020, he an always blame the Fed. The problem, says Trump, is that spending rose even more, by $4.1 trillion.

Hassett is lying but let’s note so are the OMB Director and the Treasury Secretary as well as Speaker Paul Ryan:

He was basically lying to us hoping the public would be too stupid to realize that when the price level rose by 2.5% during the same period, we are talking about a 2% real decrease in tax revenues.

Yes nominal government spending rose by 3.2%, which represents only a 0.7% real increase. Spending and revenues both fell relative to GDP. Brad correctly notes:

his claim that under Trump economic growth is “around… 4%”. It is not. GDP growth under Trump has been and is widely projected to be roughly 2.7% per year, not “around… 4%”. Irwin Stelzer is a liar. Liars are not worth reading.

While true – Trump’s entire economic team has been lying but quoting nominal changes rather than real changes. So maybe Stelzer was talking about the increase in nominal GDP. Yes – that is dishonest but hey – everyone on Team Trump is doing this.