Justin Miller

 Justin Miller is a senior writing fellow for The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

Trump Gives Tax Cuts to Rich and Fairy Tales to Everyone Else

Republicans are selling Trump's tax plan by saying it will help the middle class. But, as we knew all along, it’s written for the rich. 

(Photo: AP/Evan Vucci) President Donald Trump talks to reporters as he walks to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017, in Washington. trickle-downers_35.jpg A fter toiling away for months, the so-called “Big Six” gang of Republican architects have finally unveiled their initial tax proposal, with the feel-good slogan “More Jobs, Fairer Taxes, Bigger Paychecks.” Despite all the political spin in recent weeks from Trump and his lieutenants about how the plan won’t be a big giveaway for the rich (and might even raise their taxes!) and will be a boon for the middle class, the proof is in the paper. As expected, the details of the plan show a proposal that was explicitly written for the rich , with provisions aimed at easing the tax burden of the wealthiest Americans. And for the middle class? Nothing but outright lies and murky promises to iron out the details in Congress. The plan cuts the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent, a move...

Target Takes the $15 High Road. Where’s Walmart?

Target, one of the largest retail employers in the country, announced Monday that it will raise its minimum wage for employees to $11 an hour starting in October, and gradually increase it to $15 an hour by the end of 2020. The new standard applies to Target’s 323,000 regular employees as well as to the 100,000 seasonal workers it plans to hire for the holiday season.

Clearly, Target realizes that the way to attract workers (and reduce turnover) in a tight labor market is not to gripe and moan about a supposed labor shortage but to bump up pay. As the Federal Reserve of Minneapolis President Neel Kashkari put it, “If you’re not raising wages, then it just sounds like whining.”

Walmart’s decision to raise its pay to $10 an hour last year prompted Target to follow suit. Company officials initially required new employees to complete a six-month “training” period before receiving that wage rate. After intense public criticism, they shortened that period to 90 days. Other employers took to the high road years ago. Costco has for several years now paid a starting wage of $11.50 an hour with average wages reaching $21 an hour. The retailer also offers health care to most employees.

But Walmart has more power than any American company to lift up wage standards across the economy. With nearly 1.5 million employees in the United States, Walmart is the largest employer in the country. Yet, Walmart has thus far resisted calls to go higher than $10 an hour. It is nearly impossible to make a living on that kind of wage, especially if you’re working part-time—as many Walmart employees do.

The retail behemoth’s low wages, which force its employees to rely on public assistance programs, cost taxpayers an estimated $6.2 billion in 2013. Employers who insist on taking the low-wage road act as parasites and end up costing taxpayers $152.8 billion every year, according to a 2015 study by the University of California, Berkeley Labor Center.

Target is taking a step in the right direction by getting on a path to $15 an hour. Walmart should follow suit. It can certainly afford to pay its workers more money. In recent years, the company has bought back about $50 billion of its shares, funneling those profits into the Walton family fortune rather than into workers’ pockets. 

By paying at least $15 an hour, the company would not only be treating its own employees fairly; it would be lifting up wage standards throughout the economy. To focus the minds of company officials at Walmart and elsewhere, a group of House Democrats have kickstarted an idea: levy a fee on companies equivalent to the amount of public assistance its employees are eligible to receive, since their employers can’t be bothered to pay them fairly in the first place. 

Tax Cuts for the rich. Deregulation for the powerful. Wage suppression for everyone else. These are the tenets of trickle-down economics, the conservatives’ age-old strategy for advantaging the interests of the rich and powerful over those of the middle class and poor. The articles in Trickle-Downers are devoted, first, to exposing and refuting these lies, but equally, to reminding Americans that these claims aren’t made because they are true. Rather, they are made because they are the most effective way elites have found to bully, confuse and intimidate middle- and working-class voters. Trickle-down claims are not real economics. They are negotiating strategies. Here at the Prospect, we hope to help you win that negotiation.

Labor Leader Runs for Iowa Governor on Progressive Populism

In the wake of GOP-led attacks on workers, a long-time nurses union president thinks bold politics will win back voters in the Heartland. 

(Cathy Glasson for Governor/Youtube) Cathy Glasson, president of SEIU Local 199 and Democratic candidate for governor of Iowa, at a Labor Day rally. N ot too long ago, Iowa was a tenuously blue state. From 2007 to 2010, Democrats had unilateral control of the state government, and Iowans voted for Barack Obama in both 2008 and 2012 by substantial margins. But the tide has quickly turned, thanks to the Tea Party wave and well-funded right-wing groups’ investment in Iowa politics. The fruits of that political investment have been many. From an all-out attack on the state’s labor laws to steep spending cuts and the privatization of the state Medicaid program, Democrats are scrambling to win back the legislature, and a broad field of Democratic contenders have their eyes on the governorship. One of those contenders is Cathy Glasson, a state labor leader who believes Democrats can once again win in the state by embracing a bold progressive platform. It’ll be an uphill battle. In 2010,...

Trump Swears He Doesn’t Want to Cut Taxes for Wealthy

The president and GOP leaders would have you believe their tax cuts will help the middle class, not the rich. Reality would suggest otherwise. 

(Photo: AP/Charlie Neibergall) President Donald Trump reacts to supporters after speaking about tax reform at the Andeavor Mandan Refinery, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017, in Mandan, N.D. trickle-downers_35.jpg I f it seems as though Republican leaders have been on the verge of unveiling their master plan for securing tax cuts for months, it’s because they have. And next week, those GOP’s tax architects may actually get around to announcing to letting the rest of America in on the details. You can tell they’re getting very close to a deal now because they’re putting the word out to anyone who’ll listen that their plan definitely will provide a big-time tax cut for the middle class and definitely won’t lavish huge tax cuts upon the wealthiest households and most profitable corporations. Trump recently had this to say about taxes, “I think the wealthy will be pretty much where they are,” he told reporters at the White House. “If [their tax rates] have to go higher, they’ll go higher, frankly...

Trump Stacks Labor Department with Friends of Big Business

His appointees made their bones on the management side of the table.

(Photo: Rex Features via AP Images) Patrick Pizzella testifies before the United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions on his nomination as Deputy US Secretary of Labor on Capitol Hill. W hen, amid scandal and scrutiny, the bombastic fast-food CEO Andy Puzder withdrew himself as President Trump’s nominee for secretary of labor back in February, worker advocates—who’d run an aggressive campaign to oppose him—let out a collective sigh of relief. As a vocal opponent of higher minimum wages and stronger labor laws, Puzder seemed the very antithesis of the Department of Labor’s mission of protecting workers. Puzder has since moved on, frequenting cable news shows as a Trump booster, and is reportedly writing a book that attacks progressive policies and labor unions. Trump’s second choice, Alex Acosta, a relatively unknown conservative labor lawyer, was seen as a much milder alternative. Since confirmed, even with the fate of several major Obama-era labor...

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