In an exchange one journalist described as “Orwellian,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders doubled down in her Tuesday press briefing on President Donald Trump’s repeated lie that the U.S. is the “highest-taxed nation in the world”—clarifying that when he says that, he’s talking about the corporate tax rate even though that is not what he says time and time again.
A reporter from One America News pushed back, but Huckabee Sanders insisted there was no discrepancy between Trump’s statements and the truth. Ultimately she told the reporter they would just have to “agree to disagree” on whether two different claims were actually the same thing.
Trump most recently made the claim in a televised appearance in the Oval Office just before the press briefing. He also said it in an interview over the weekend on Mike Huckabee’s talk show on the Trinity Broadcasting Network, in a tweet last month, in campaign speeches during the 2016 election, and at rallies in Youngstown, Ohio and Cedar Rapids, Iowa this year.
During the presidential campaign, the Pew Research Center found that Americans pay less in taxes than most developed nations. The Tax Policy Center has also found that tax revenue makes up only about 26 percent of the United States’ GDP. In countries with strong social welfare programs, like Sweden, France, and Finland, citizens pay far more.
While the nominal corporate tax rate for U.S. corporations is higher compared to many other developed nations, the effective rate—due to loopholes, deductions, and other tax avoidance schemes written into the tax code—keeps effective rates exceedingly low. Despite that, Trump continues to claim they are unduly high while repeatedly suggesting in front of non-corporate audiences that his main concern is with lowering American families’ tax rates.
A number of journalists and Trump critics denounced Huckabee Sanders’s characterization of the matter as a simple difference of opinion between the reporter and the White House—rather than a question of misleading statements by the president.
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