Monday, November 20, 2017

What did Donald Trump do today?

He tried to sell his tax plan with a false claim about US tax rates.

Time is running out on the Congressional calendar for Trump to pass a tax bill, which would be his first and only substantial legislation of his administration. Speaking to reporters before a Cabinet meeting today, he repeated the claim that the United States is "one of the highest taxed nations in the world."

There is no sense in which this is even remotely true. The usual way to compare taxes between nations is by looking at the ratio between GDP (the total value of things produced in a country) and tax collected. The United States is well below the world average--

--and has the one of the lowest GDP-to-tax ratios among the wealthy, democratic OECD nations:

This is hardly the most blatant deception on Trump's part with respect to the bill: for example, he recently claimed that he would see his own tax bill go up under the plan. (In fact, as even his own Treasury Secretary admits, virtually all of the tax savings will go to the wealthiest filers.)

In the one year in which Trump himself is known to have paid federal taxes, most of his bill came from the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), which is designed to make it more difficult for ultra-wealthy filers to take advantages of loopholes in the tax code. Trump's plan eliminates the AMT altogether.

Why should I care about this?

  • Presidents shouldn't try to mislead the public about basic facts.
  • Tax policy should be based on the needs of the country and all its citizens, rather than what will help the president.