President Donald Trump is going all-in on selling tax reform to the American public, but some of the President's and his administration officials' claims aren't adding up, according to Scripps' news partner Politifact.
In a series of radio interviews on Tuesday, President Trump repeated his complaint that "we're the highest taxed nation in the world." But Politifact has given that statement a "False" rating since he began saying it on the campaign trail in August 2015.
In an interview with Scripps Tuesday, Trump refused to admit the statement is false, and qualified it instead.
“Some people say it differently, they say we're the highest developed nation taxed in the world," the President said. "A lot of people know exactly what I'm talking about, and in many cases they think I’m right when I say the highest. As far as I'm concerned, I think we're really essentially the highest, but if you want to add the ‘developed nation,’ you can say that, too. But a lot of people agree that the way I'm saying it is exactly correct.”
But those people, whoever they are, would be exactly incorrect. And adding "developed," doesn't fix the issue: Politifact still rates the claim as false.
Here's what the fact checkers found:
The most recent numbers come from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development for 2015. The countries it compares include the group that are generally seen as “developed nations.”
As a percentage of GDP, the U.S. tax burden -- covering all levels of government -- ranks 28th out of 32 countries. We ran the numbers based on federal revenues alone, and the rankings stayed about the same.
On a per-person basis, America ranks 13th out of 31 nations.
While the president refused to admit he's wrong, his budget director played cleanup.
“We are the highest corporate taxed nation out of any developed country," said Mick Mulvaney, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.
Adding that one word - corporate - turns the claim into mostly true: under current law corporations can use exemptions and deductions to effectively reduce their 35% rate, putting the average effective corporate tax rate in the United States at 22%.
Lowering the corporate tax rate to 20% is a cornerstone in the White House's push for the first tax code overhaul in over 30 years.
“Back when I was a kid, Ronald Reagan was president, and he enacted tax reform in 1986, and the economy took off and jobs were created, and we had a decade of growth," said Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta.
Politifact says Secretary Acosta oversimplifies Reagan's tax record: his most significant tax cuts were in 1981, but he agreed to raise taxes several times, including in the 1986 law, which saw a mix of tax cuts and hikes. And while the U.S. economy did grow between 1986 and 1996, the country went into recession July 1990 to March 1991, resulting in 1.2 million lost jobs and a Democrat winning the White House in 1992.