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

Another GOP Brainstorm -- "You’ll Be Healthier If We Take Away Your Health Care" -- Struck Down in Court

trickle-downers_35.jpg Last week, a federal judge struck down the Trump administration’s approvals for work requirements in Medicaid programs in both Kentucky and Arkansas. In June 2018, after a go-ahead from the administration, Arkansas began requiring Medicaid recipients to document 80 hours of work each month in order to continue receiving assistance. Since then, the damage on the ground in Arkansas is apparent. Over the past several months since implementation, approximately 18,000 Medicaid recipients in the state have lost their coverage. Though Kentucky had planned to implement its own work requirements beginning in July 2018, the same judge, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg, had ruled against Kentucky’s federal approval last June, writing that Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar “never adequately considered whether [Kentucky’s program] would in fact help the state furnish medical assistance to its citizens, a central objective of Medicaid...

A Bad Week for Paul Manafort and School Scammers -- But a Great Year for White-Collar Crime

Under Trump, prosecutions for white-collar crimes have reached an all-time low, while prosecutions for being an undocumented immigrant have soared.

trickle-downers_35.jpg Going strictly by recent headlines, one could be forgiven for thinking it’s a bad time to be a white-collar criminal in America. Last week, former Trump campaign manager and grifter extraordinaire Paul Manafort was sentenced to seven years in federal prison for financial and fraud convictions; the very next day, Justice Department prosecutors charged at least 50 people involved in a multimillion-dollar bribery scheme to get unqualified children into elite universities. Justice served, right? Not exactly. The unfortunate truth is that white-collar crime has always been relatively low-risk, high-reward in the United States—and under the Trump administration it’s become an even better racket. Grifting has entered a new golden age. A new case-by-case analysis of Justice Department data shows that white-collar crime prosecutions have dropped to an all-time low this year. The government reported only 337 new prosecutions in January, a 20 percent drop...

Amazon Is Giving Up on New York, and Activists in Nashville and Northern Virginia Are Energized

Like their New York counterparts, organizers in other potential sites of Amazon expansion want a more democratic process that produces more equitable growth.

trickle-downers_54.jpg Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is giving up his helipad—at least, the one planned for New York City. In a stunning move announced Thursday, Amazon is pulling out of its deal to build a second headquarters in New York, as “a number of state and local politicians have made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type of relationships that are required to go forward with the project,” the corporate giant said in a statement. Amazon was to receive roughly $3 billion in tax subsidies in an opaque deal that was approved without input from local residents and local politicians (other than Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill DeBlasio). Amazon’s contest for its second headquarters, which had cities throwing money at the company, resulted in Amazon splitting its decision and choosing two well-established cities on the East Coast, Crystal City (a suburb of Washington, D.C.) and Long Island City, Queens. The company also...

Thanks to Trump, Payday Lenders Will Keep on Merrily Bilking the Poor

The government shutdown reminded us that millions of Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck—which payday lenders will only continue to exploit if the CFPB has its way.

trickle-downers_54.jpg The cycle of the payday loan is a well-known horror story. A person needs money, and they need it fast, so they visit a payday lender with names like EZ Cash or Cash Express. They get their money on the spot. The trouble comes later, when it’s time to repay the loan. Most borrowers default on that small-dollar loan, which is how EZ Cash profits—as the loan is renewed or rolled over and the fees rack up. One of the last regulations published under President Obama’s director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Richard Cordray, was a 2017 rule that would have curbed the most-egregious forms of payday lending. The Trump administration on Wednesday proposed to revise that rule—aiming to gut a powerful provision designed to protect borrowers. The oft-cited statistic that the average American doesn’t have the means to come up with $400 in an emergency was thrown into sharp relief over the past month, as federal workers...

Border Wall or No, Immigrants Will Soon Have to Scale a Paywall

Proposed new Trump administration rules could keep low-income immigrants from applying for green cards or citizenship.

trickle-downers_54.jpg Just in case his border wall won’t be sufficient to keep out immigrants, President Trump is erecting a paywall as well. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services plans to restrict access to fee waivers used by low-income immigrants applying for U.S. citizenship, green cards, and various other immigration benefits, potentially pricing out tens of thousands of low-income applicants as a result. The USCIS proposal , which was published last October, would reverse an Obama-era policy that loosened eligibility requirements for waiving agency fees. The types of applications affected by the reversal range from more mundane activities, like replacing a green card or registering a permanent residence, to matters of vital importance. USCIS waivers can be used by immigrants to cover fees for more than two dozen separate applications, including applications to apply for citizenship, file a legal appeal, receive employment authorization, and even suspend a...

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