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If Trump's tax plan had merit, he wouldn't have to lie about it

Donald Trump wants Americans to believe the Republican tax plan "is not good" for him personally. If the plan had real merit, he wouldn't have to lie like this.
Image: US President Donald J. Trump and President Sauli Niinisto of Finland joint news conference
epa06169232 US President Donald J. Trump attends a joint news conference with President Sauli Niinisto of Finland in the East Room of the White House in...

Donald Trump argued via Twitter last night, "The only people who don't like the Tax Cut Bill are the people that don't understand it." The irony, of course, is that the president himself isn't exactly an expert in the Republican tax plan he's so eager to sign into law.

Trump traveled to Missouri yesterday, ostensibly to help sell his party's unpopular proposal, and in the process made clear he either has no idea what the plan entails or he's willing to brazenly lie to the public about its supposed virtues.

The president insisted, for example, "This is going to cost me a fortune, this thing, believe me. This is not good for me.... I think my accountants are going crazy right now."

As Rachel noted on the show last night, it's possible Trump believes he can get away with claims such as these because he keeps his tax returns hidden from the public. But NBC News' recent report nevertheless made the facts plain:

In fact, Trump and his heirs potentially could save more than $1 billion overall under the GOP tax proposal that the House of Representatives passed Thursday, with most of that amount coming from a repeal of the estate tax, according to an analysis NBC News commissioned of Trump's one known 2005 tax return and his estimated net worth.

The Washington Post ran a related item this morning, adding that the available information "shows his claim of losing a fortune on the tax bill is poppycock."

What's more, the White House is helping negotiate additional changes to the Senate legislation that would further boost the president's personal finances.

It's worth emphasizing that Trump has made this claim before, probably because it seems like a politically persuasive talking point: if our wealthy president is going to be worse off under the GOP proposal, it may be more in line with public attitudes that show broad support for higher taxes on the richest Americans. It's precisely why it matters that Trump's claims are the opposite of the truth.

Indeed, every time the president has presented his bogus argument, it's been smacked down by fact-checkers. The fact that he keeps repeating it anyway reinforces fears that he's deliberately trying to deceive the nation ahead of the votes in Congress.

All of which raises the question that should give the public pause: if the Republican tax plan has merit, why can't Donald Trump tell the truth about it?