Is Mnuchin a fool or a knave?
One of the most dangerous consequences of this awful period in American life is the denigration of the truth, and of the institutions and people who tell it.
There are two kinds of liars -- fools and knaves. Fools lie because they don't know the truth. Knaves lie because they intend to mislead.
Donald Trump is both, because he doesn't even care enough about the truth to find out what it is. He'll say whatever he thinks will get people to believe what he wants them to believe.
What about people like Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Trump's point person on the Republican tax bills now making their way through Congress?
Mnuchin continues to insist that the legislation puts a higher tax burden on people earning more than $1 million a year, and reduces taxes on everyone else. "I can tell you that virtually everybody in the middle class will get a tax cut, and will get a significant tax cut," Mnuchin said on the Fox News Channel.
But the prestigious Tax Policy Center concludes that by 2027, almost all of the benefits of both bills will have gone to the richest 1 percent, while upper-middle-class payers will pay higher taxes and those at the lower levels will receive only modest benefits.
So is Mnuchin a fool? His career before he became treasury secretary doesn't suggest so. He graduated from Yale and worked for 17 years for investment bank Goldman Sachs.
Perhaps Mnuchin doesn't find the Tax Policy Center credible. Maybe he agrees with Trump economic adviser Peter Navarro, who describes it as "a left-leaning center that produces analyses that favor Democratic tax-and-spend programs and disfavor Republican programs."
In the age of Trump, even prestigious organizations once considered nonpartisan are either "with us" or "against us."
Problem is, virtually all other studies by every other source show the House and Senate tax bills overwhelmingly benefit the rich and, within a few years, harm the middle class.