Wednesday, September 6, 2017

What did Donald Trump do today?

He promoted a tax plan he hasn't written with a tweet that suggests it's probably just as well he's not writing it.

Trump traveled to North Dakota today to campaign for his tax plan--or what would be his tax plan if he hadn't abruptly punted responsibility for writing it to beleaguered congressional Republicans. In hyping the trip on Twitter this morning, Trump claimed that the United States was "the highest taxed nation in the world."

This is completely false. The US has is fourteenth overall in effective personal income tax rates, thirty-second in taxes as a share of GDP, and its effective corporate tax rate is slightly below average for the world's largest industrial economies. 

Oddly enough, the US tax code is one of the few aspects of his current job that Trump has some experience with. As a real estate developer (or, at least, as someone who counted as one for tax purposes) Trump has seen the byzantine and occasionally bizarrely unfair US tax code from the inside--and from the winning side. Leaked returns from 1995 show that he claimed $917,000,000 of other people's losses in an entirely legal maneuver that allowed him to deduct that same amount from his taxes over the course of 18 years. 

Why is this a problem?

  • It's bad if the president can't remember the basic facts about one of the most important parts of his job.
  • "It takes a thief to catch a thief" doesn't usually work in politics.