Trickle Downers

The Prospect's ongoing exposé of the folly, dysfunctions, and sheer idiocy of feed-the-rich economic policies.

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.

Trickle Downers

Speaker Ryan, Adrift in Massachusetts

Paul Ryan talks trickle-down taxation with workers in one of the poorest cities in the state.

AP Photo/Stephan Savoia
AP Photo/Stephan Savoia House Speaker Paul Ryan addresses workers at a New Balance athletic shoe factory after he toured the factory floor in Lawrence, Massachusetts. trickle-downers_35.jpg H ouse Speaker Paul Ryan switched gears on Thursday to talk about something completely different: “Made in America Week” and federal tax code reform—two of the GOP’s current talking points as their lawmakers scurry to change the subject from their own Made in Washington health-care debacle. President Donald Trump launched “Made in America Week” at the White House, displaying such products as door hinges, crab pots, and brooms wholly manufactured stateside. Placing the event in the proper temporal context, The Guardian describe d the 50-state showcase as a “museum of American capitalism.” Meanwhile, the president posed gleefully with fire engines from Wisconsin and wore a Stetson cowboy hat from Texas. Truth is indeed stranger than fake news. Fresh off his sundry attempts to roll back health care,...

House GOP Budget Comes Straight from the Trickle-Down Playbook

The Republicans’ budgetary blueprint paves the path for tax cuts for the wealthy, a military buildup, and spending cuts for entitlement programs. 

(Photo: AP/J. Scott Applewhite) House Ways and Means Committee Chair Kevin Brady, House Budget Committee Chair Diane Black, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Greg Walden participate in a news conference on Capitol Hill on March 10, 2017. trickle-downers_35.jpg F resh off Senate Republicans’ botched attempt to deliver tax cuts to the rich by gutting Obamacare and Medicaid, House Republicans have unveiled their 2018 federal budget —a plan in the best reverse-Robin Hood tradition of the Republican Party. Overall, House Republicans are proposing to balance the budget by 2027 through more than $5 trillion in spending cuts, chiefly to programs that help low- and middle-income Americans, which would allow them to finance a huge military buildup and deliver tax cuts to the wealthy and to corporations. Even with those cuts, their budget requires deliriously rosy economic growth forecasts to come up with numbers showing a budget in balance. “In...

GOP Eager to Repeal Rule that Allows Consumers to Sue Conniving Banks

Republicans pretend it’s about dismantling the “administrative state.” But it’s all about market power. 

(Gage Skidmore) U.S. Congressman Jeb Hensarling speaking at the 2015 Reagan Dinner for the Dallas County Republican Party in Dallas, Texas. trickle-downers_35.jpg A s Lisa Servon writes in her thorough survey for the Prospect ’s summer issue of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s prospects under the Trump administration, “It took Congress 66 years to undo Glass-Steagall in 1999. It may take less than a decade to undo the reforms brought about by Dodd-Frank, including the CFPB.” It may take the Republican-controlled Congress even less time to undo a landmark rule issued Monday by the consumer watchdog agency that will widely forbid mandatory arbitration clauses in consumer contracts. Banks, credit-card companies, and other financial-services firms will no longer be able to force individual consumers into corporate-friendly mandatory arbitration hearings to settle disputes. For instance, Wells Fargo used arbitration clauses as a way to block a potentially gigantic class-action...

As Trump Gears Up for Big Tax Cuts, Seattle Opts to Tax Wealthy

The progressive city is once again paving the way, and strongly rebuking trickle-down economics. 

(Photo: AP/Elaine Thompson) Demonstrators stand together as they wait for a Republican response to a new city income tax on the wealthy that was approved earlier by the Seattle City Council Monday, July 10, 2017, in Seattle. trickle-downers.jpg T he Seattle city council voted unanimously Monday to institute an income tax on the city’s highest earners, providing a stark rebuttal to the current trickle-down debate between President Trump and congressional Republicans over how much they should cut taxes for the rich. The measure will levy a 2.25 percent tax on individuals who make more than $250,000 and joint filers who make more than $500,000. The tax is expected to generate an estimated $140 million in new revenue for Seattle, which leaders say they hope to use to lower the burden of more regressive taxes like the city’s property tax, to plug any holes from potentially diminished federal funding spurred by Trump, and to bolster the city’s public services. “Seattle is challenging the...

Does the Fed Think Black Lives Matter?

Putting the brakes on the economy would disproportionately damage black America.

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren Black Lives Matter protesters march in Seattle. trickle-downers_35.jpg F or many Americans, the country’s 241st birthday last week was an unqualified cause for celebration. For many other Americans, however, this Fourth of July was a reminder that United States policy has yet to live up to the Declaration of Independence’s aspirational language. When the words “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” were written, in fact, many groups of people were excluded—including enslaved black Americans. It required our bloodiest war to banish slavery. And while we elected our first black president in 2008, and while today’s Congress, though still overwhelmingly white, is more diverse than it’s ever been, racism persists in all our institutions. A multitude of structural barriers block pathways to economic opportunity across generations of black families, imperil many black Americans’ physical safety, and diminish investment in black communities and businesses...

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