In a new interview with The Economist, Donald Trump claimed that he came up with the phrase “prime the pump” during a talk about his plan to overhaul the tax code.
The common term is most often understood to mean an increase in government expense in order to stimulate the economy or promote a specific improvement, but Trump said he came up with it “a couple of days ago.”
In reality, the expression is derived from using water to prime tubes and pumps, to create a sucking mechanism; its first documented use was in the mid-1800s.
Trump had been asked why his tax plan increases the government’s budget deficit, and he responded:
“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.”
The reporter responded, “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? … Yeah, have you heard it?”
The reporter said yes, and Trump continued:
“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…Yeah, what you have to do is you have to put something in before you can get something out.”