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Trump's case for tax reform rests on a false foundation

Donald Trump says we need tax reform because the U.S. is "the highest taxed nation in the world." The trouble is, he's lying.
Image: Donald Trump
President Donald Trump speaks at Fort Myer in Arlington Va., Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, during a Presidential Address to the Nation about a strategy he believes...

Ahead of his event in North Dakota yesterday in support of tax reform, Donald Trump insisted that the United States is "the highest taxed nation in the world." Almost immediately, reality-based observers explained that the president was clearly lying about a subject he only pretends to understand.

Despite the pushback, Trump went to Bismarck and repeated the exact same claim: "So we're here today to talk about a plan to create a new age of American prosperity by reducing the crushing tax burden on our companies and on our workers. The taxes are crazy -- the highest taxed nation in the world."

Presidential repetition does not make a falsehood true.

America's tax revenue is 26 percent of the nation's Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which is significantly lower than the average 34 percent other developed countries pay relative to their GDP, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. Denmark, France and Sweden are among those nations that top America on taxes.The U.S. tax burden per capita — $14,115 — also is below average in relation to other developed nations, as well, data from the Tax Policy Center shows.

An Associated Press report added that the overall U.S. tax burden "is actually one of the lowest among the 32 developed and large emerging-market economies tracked by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development."

There are different metrics for measuring a country's tax rates, but there is literally no metric in which the United States is "the highest taxed nation in the world."

Of course, much of the political world is so inured to Trump's mendacity that the president repeating a lazy and brazen lie about one of his highest priorities was about the 50th most interesting political story of the day yesterday. But I mention this because I think there's a certain salience to Trump's bogus talking point.

To hear the president tell it, Congress needs to approve the pending tax reform plan -- a "plan" that does not yet exist -- in order to help the economy. In his next breath, however, Trump generally likes to tell the public that the economy is in amazing shape thanks largely to the awesomeness of his awesome presidency.

Trump then says tax reform needs to pass because the United States is "the highest taxed nation in the world." Except, that's wrong, too.

What we're left with is a curious dynamic: the president wants tax reform, but he can't seem to think of any legitimate reasons why.