Donald Trump Rediscovers an Old Truism: Big Lies Are Better Than Little Ones

Last night I suggested that under the pressure of the debate, Donald Trump had flubbed by saying that America has the highest taxes in the world. Via email, a friend corrects me:

No, it wasn’t a flub. He’s been saying that for weeks, that we have the highest taxes in the world, full stop. Nothing about corporate or business. Media has such a hard time keeping up with all the crap that comes out of his mouth, they just haven’t gotten around to highlighting this one, but he’s been saying it repeatedly in both interviews and his rallies.

Sigh. I realize this is just spitting into the wind, but here’s the total tax bill for every OECD country as of 2012. This is everything: federal, state, payroll, excise, sales tax, property tax, etc. Everything:

We don’t pay the highest taxes. We pay the lowest except for Chile and Mexico, which belong to the OECD only by courtesy in the first place. They’re both poor countries with average wages about a quarter of ours.

But I guess this is just more of those lying government statistics. Unemployment is really 42 percent. Illegal immigration is skyrocketing. Obamacare premiums are up 30, 40, 50 percent. American taxes are the highest in the world.

Well, hell. If I believed that stuff—and why wouldn’t I if I were some ordinary rube listening to Trump speak?—I suppose I’d vote for Trump too. This is yet another example of the conservative movement creating its own Frankenstein. Fox and Rush and Heritage and all the rest of them have been hawking phony statistics for years, and now Trump is beating them at their own game. He’s realized that you don’t have to offer any fancy explanations and you don’t have to stretch the truth only a little bit. You can just say anything you want. And now all the folks that have spent years lying just a little bit are aghast.

Is it the weekend yet?


as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot. That's what Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein tackles in her annual December column—"Billionaires Are Not the Answer"—about the state of journalism and our plans for the year ahead.

We can't afford to let independent reporting depend on the goodwill of the superrich: Please help Mother Jones build an alternative to oligarchy that is funded by and answerable to its readers. Please join us with a tax-deductible, year-end donation so we can keep going after the big stories without fear, favor, or false equivalency.


as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot.

Please read our annual column about the state of journalism and Mother Jones' plans for the year ahead, and help us build an alternative to oligarchy by supporting our people-powered journalism with a year-end gift today.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.