Donald Trump says he just invented an old Economics 101 phrase and other wild claims from recent interviews

Trump says he invented the phrase "prime the pump" — and 7 more wild details from the president's new interviews

Published May 11, 2017 1:40PM (EDT)

 (Getty/Molly Riley-Pool)
(Getty/Molly Riley-Pool)

When President Donald Trump gives an interview, it's all but guaranteed that some noteworthy details will emerge — not necessarily on policy, though. It's more likely to be lies and outright braggadocio instead. The president recently granted time to The Economist and Time, and on those fronts, the interviews did not disappoint. Here are eight choice nuggets:

1. Trump takes credit for the phrase "priming the pump," 

Ever take a simple economics class and learn about Keynesian economics? Then the phrase "prime the pump" or "pump priming" should be in your memory.  It certainly should be to Trump, who graduated with an economics degree from the Wharton School — one of the top business schools in the nation. That's what makes this exchange with The Economist — one of the top economics magazines in the world which literally screams "economics!" at you — so mind-boggling.

The Economist: But beyond that it’s OK if the tax plan increases the deficit?

Trump: It is OK, because it won’t increase it for long. You may have two years where you’ll . . .  you understand the expression “prime the pump”?


We have to prime the pump.

It’s very Keynesian.

We’re the highest-taxed nation in the world. Have you heard that expression before, for this particular type of an event?

Priming the pump?

Yeah, have you heard it?


Have you heard that expression used before? Because I haven’t heard it. I mean, I just . . . I came up with it a couple of days ago and I thought it was good. It’s what you have to do.

It’s . . .

Yeah, what you have to do is you have to put something in before you can get something out.

2. Trump is a special boy who gets an "extra scoop of ice cream," probably because he's such a good president.

This one comes from an excellent Time profile and interview. During dinner, instead of everyone being served the same meal, the three-person Time crew (and Vice President Mike Pence) are served one thing, while Trump gets his own special dinner. As Time reported:

As he settles down, they bring him a Diet Coke, while the rest of us are served water, with the Vice President sitting at one end of the table. With the salad course, Trump is served what appears to be Thousand Island dressing instead of the creamy vinaigrette for his guests. When the chicken arrives, he is the only one given an extra dish of sauce. At the dessert course, he gets two scoops of vanilla ice cream with his chocolate cream pie, instead of the single scoop for everyone else.

3. Think the election is over? Think again.

Here's a telling snippet from Trump's Economist interview. Trump said this as he was trying to sell his idea of a 35 percent tax on companies that move abroad and then try to sell goods in the U.S.:

So I mean, I have, it has, I haven’t been given massive credit for it yet, but I have been given some because I just see polls out in Michigan and different places, that really are affected by this, have been unbelievable, you know, much bigger than election day.

4. He's now an expert on health care — according to Donald Trump

Trump went quickly from "nobody knew health care could be so complicated" to "I know everything" in record time. He told Time:

But in a short period of time I understood everything there was to know about health care. And we did the right negotiating, and actually it’s a very interesting subject.

5. Trump's mark on the White House is basically giving it a giant chandelier and a massive TV.

Somehow, it shouldn't surprise anyone that Trump — a TV-obsessed man who lives in a gold-plated apartment — is making his mark. He "made a contribution," he told Time, by using "his own money to pay for the enormous crystal chandelier that now hangs from the ceiling." But the biggest contribution may be the "60-plus-inch flat-screen television" that he is using to watch clips from TV news all day long. (The subject was the testimony of former director of national intelligence, James Clapper, and former acting Attorney General Sally Yates).

6. His personal Twitter account is treated with the importance of a national security memo.

Apparently, the notion that Donald Trump sits in front of a TV — phone in hand, finger hovering over the Twitter app — is not the truth. The reality is that he's outsourced this all out to his staffers and he is really invested in making sure that his personal whims are handled by someone else. Time reported:

Back in the Oval Office, he checks in with his waiting staff. “Did you get that stuff out?” the President asks of the tweets he had prepared. “The Russia-Trump collusion story is a total hoax,” one reads, “when will the taxpayer funded charade end?” Dan Scavino, his social-media director, is sitting on the couch. “Yes, sir. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter. It’s everywhere,” he says.

7. Trump's missile strike on Syria basically came from insecurity.

Here's what Trump told Time about why he attacked Syria, and it wasn't about kids being killed.

I think we have to be a strong nation. I think we were being laughed at by the world. They’re not laughing anymore.

8. Everything Donald Trump said about releasing his tax returns has been a complete lie.

Trump has hinted about his tax returns and danced around the issue since 2015. He's constantly pushed the date of releasing his tax returns back, and basically told The Economist that it will never happen when he was asked if he would supply them.

That’s a very interesting question. I doubt it. I doubt it. Because they’re not going to . . .  nobody cares about my tax return except for the reporters. Oh, at some point I’ll release them. Maybe I’ll release them after I’m finished because I’m very proud of them actually. I did a good job.

At this point, Hope Hicks, White House strategic communications director, jumped in and said that a release may take place "once the audit is over," since that's been Trump's cover for not releasing his returns.

"I might release them after I’m out of office," Trump replied. Later he added, "By the way, so as you know I’m under routine audit, so they’re not going to be done. But you know, at a certain point, that’s something I will consider. But I would never consider it as part of a deal."

By Jeremy Binckes

MORE FROM Jeremy Binckes

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Donald Trump Health Care Syria The Economist Time White House