Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Acting Director of Office of Management and Budget Russell Vought listens during a cabinet meeting in the East Room of the White House on May 19, 2020.

Acting Director of Office of Management and Budget Russell Vought listens during a cabinet meeting in the East Room of the White House on May 19, 2020. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

'Cowardly' and 'Shameful': Critics Say Trump Refusal to Release Mid-Year Economic Forecast an Obvious Election Year Ploy

"It gets them off the hook for having to say what the economic outlook looks like."

Eoin Higgins

Administration officials have confirmed that the White House, breaking with decades of precedent, will not publish a mid-year economic forecast—a decision critics said is an obvious move to shield President Donald Trump from the political implications of a tanking economy ahead of November's election.

"Trump figures if he doesn't tell people they're out of work, they won't know they're out of work," tweeted writer Gerry Conway.

News of the decision came from the Washington Post Thursday morning.

As the Post reported:

The White House is supposed to unveil a federal budget proposal every February and then typically provides a "mid-session review" in July or August with updated projections on economic trends such as unemployment, inflation, and economic growth.

[...]

The economic projections are jointly produced by a "troika" consisting of the director of [the Office of Management and Budget], the chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, and the treasury secretary.

The economic downturn triggered by the pandemic has left millions of Americans out of work, led to double-digit unemployment, and stretched the country's meager social safety net to the limit. On Thursday, the Department of Labor reported that another 2.1 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits, bringing the total number of people who have filed since the pandemic began to at least 40 million.

According to Politico, "administration officials said the data is too volatile to produce reliable projections," making the forecast problematic as it could "mislead the public." But that claim was rejected by Bipartisan Policy Center vice-president Bill Hoagland, who told the Post that there was "no logistical reason they couldn't do it."

"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," said Hoagland.

The tactic could backfire, tweeted Alabama Media Group columnist Kyle Whitmire. 

"Public officials' willingness to withhold information that will inevitably come out never ceases to astound me," said Whitmire. "It's like refusing to release a weather forecast that says a hurricane will make landfall tomorrow. Eventually, the truth will tell itself."

For now, though, the immediate benefit for the Trump White House is clear, former Congressional Budget Office director Douglas Holtz-Eakin told the Post.

"It gets them off the hook for having to say what the economic outlook looks like," Holtz-Eakin said. 


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Putting 'Profits Over People', Senate Rejects Paid Sick Leave for Rail Workers

"Senate Republicans and Joe Manchin have yet AGAIN failed working Americans by voting down seven days of paid sick leave for rail workers," lamented Rep. Jamaal Bowman.

Brett Wilkins ·


'We Must Cancel Student Debt,' Activists Argue as SCOTUS Agrees to Hear Case in February

"The right-tilted Supreme Court now holds in the balance relief for millions of hardworking Americans," said one campaigner. "It would be a giant loss for the economy if justices rule in favor of the special interests."

Jessica Corbett ·


Citing 'Unprecedented Crisis,' House Dems Push Biden to Protect Haitians From Deportation

Warning of "mortal danger," one advocacy group argues extending and redesignating Temporary Protected Status for Haitians "is a matter of life and death."

Jessica Corbett ·


Pentagon Fails Another Audit, Yet Congress Poised to Approve $847 Billion Budget

"This isn't using our taxpayer dollars wisely," said the National Priorities Project. "It's robbing programs that we need, like the discontinued child tax credit that cut child poverty by half."

Kenny Stancil ·


Experts Warn 'Doomsday Scenario' for Colorado River Basin Possible in 2023

"The problem with massive projects like Lake Powell and the Glen Canyon Dam," said one climate journalist, "is they were engineered for a climate that no longer exists."

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo