White House to forgo summer economic forecast amid COVID-19, breaking precedent

Source: The Hill | May 28, 2020 | Sylvan Lane and Morgan Chalfant

The White House will not release an updated round of economic projections this summer, breaking from precedent as the U.S. faces its deepest downturn since the Great Depression, two administration officials familiar with the decision confirmed to The Hill on Thursday. 

The Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), the internal White House economic team, will not release the typical midsummer review of its initial economic projections in July or August even as top Trump administration officials publicly predict a swift recovery from the crisis caused by COVID-19. The projections are typically produced jointly by the Office of Management and Budget, CEA and Treasury Department.

Administration officials say that the decision, first reported by The Washington Post, was made because the state of the economy during the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in fluctuating economic data that would produce a forecast that could mislead the public. 

A White House official noted that the CEA is under no legal obligation to release an updated version of its initial February forecast, which is released with the president’s annual budget proposal, and said the precedent of doing so is “dismissible” given the uncertainty facing the economy.

“It is foolish to demand such a forecast simply because that is business as usual, particularly when that forecast may mislead the public,” the official said.

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