Sarah Sanders Explains Tax Reform By Telling a Fictional, Beer-Themed Anecdote

By A.J. Katz 

Press Secretary Sarah Sanders kicked off the press briefing, which was supposed to focus on tax reform, by telling a parable about reporters going out for beers and having to pay taxes. It was from a story circulating around the internet, Sanders stated.

Here’s the story:

Suppose that every day ten people for our purposes, we’ll say reporters, go out for beer. The bill for all ten comes to $100. If these ten reporters paid their tab every night the way we pay our taxes, would go something like this. the first four, the poorest, would pay nothing. The fifth would pay $1, the sixth would pay $3, the seventh would pay $7, the eighth would pay $12, the ninth would pay $18, the tenth, the richest, would pay $59. So, that’s what they decided to do. The ten reporters drink in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement until one day the bar owner threw them a curve. Since you’re all such good customers, he said, I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20. Drinks for the ten reporters would now cost just $80. The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes. so the first four were unaffected. they would still drink for free. what about the other six? how could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get their fair share? these are the reporters, After all, so they’re concerned with fairness. They realize that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody’s share, then the fifth reporter and the sixth reporter, would each end up being paid to drink beer. So, the bar owner suggested it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by a higher percentage the poorer he was. by doing that he explained, they continue following the principle of the tax system they’d been using. He proceeded to work out the amounts he suggested that each should pay now. so, the fifth reporter, like the first four, now paid nothing. He got a 100% savings. the sixth now paid $2 instead of $3, a 33 percent savings. The seventh now paid $7, a 28 percent savings. the eighth now paid $9 instead of $12, a 25 percent saving. the ninth now paid $14 instead of $18, which was a 22 percent saving. The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59, a 16 percent saving. So each of the six was better off than before, and the first four continued to drink for free.


But once outside the bar, the reporters began to compare their savings. I only got $1 out of the $20 saving, declared the sixth reporter. She pointed to the tenth reporter, and he got $10. Yes that’s right, exclaimed the sixth reporter. I only saved $1 too. It’s unfair that he received 10x more benefit than me. That’s true, why should he get $10 back when I only got $2? The wealthy gets all the breaks. wait a minute, yelled the first four reporters, we didn’t get anything at all. This new tax system exploits the poor. The nine reporters yelled at the tenth and made him feel bad so the next time the tenth man didn’t show up for drinks and the nine sat down and had their beers without him. When it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They no longer had enough money between them all to even cover half of the bill. 

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how our tax system works,” Sanders continued. “The people who are being paid the highest taxes will naturally benefit from a tax reduction but not the largest benefit. Taxing them too much and they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier. This is a silly story but it illustrates a very important point. Our tax cuts and reforms will create a fair system that works better for everyone. It will make our country the friendliest in the world for American families trying to build a better life for their children. And for American companies seeking a competitive edge. I will be happy to get that story to everybody so you can get those numbers later. again, i know that may be an oversimplification but it paints a very good picture of the tax system.”

The parable didn’t elicit many laughs from the room, undoubtedly much to Sanders’s chagrin.

Then the Robert Mueller investigation-focused questions started pouring in from the reporters.

The first came from ABC News’s Jonathan Karl, who asked for the White House’s reaction to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Trump campaign official Rick Gates’s indictments, which were announced this morning. Sanders responded: “Today’s announcement has nothing to do with the president.”

Sanders later said Pres. Trump “has no plan or intention” to fire the special counsel, and said the White House expects that Mueller’s investigation will wrap up soon.