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

Beyond Carrier: Can Congress End the Green Light for Outsourcing?

Donald Trump’s unusual deal with Carrier Corp. to keep 800 jobs in the U.S. alarmed many economists, but it points to the need for a corporate norm that doesn’t tilt toward outsourcing.

AP Photo/Evan Vucci
AP Photo/Evan Vucci People watch as a motorcade carrying President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence arrive for a visit to the Carrier factory, Thursday, December 1, 2016, in Indianapolis, Indiana. trickle-downers.jpg W hile millions of Americans were thrilled to see President-elect Trump strong-arm the Carrier Corporation into keeping its Indianapolis plant open, numerous economists, commentators, and lawmakers denounced the deal. Some condemned it as crony capitalism, because Carrier will receive $7 million in state incentives as part of its agreement not to send 800 threatened jobs to Mexico. Others voiced alarm that Trump was singling out and bullying an individual company. One of the deal’s most prominent critics was Lawrence Summers, the former Treasury secretary, who wrote an opinion piece with the headline, “Trump’s Carrier deal could permanently damage American capitalism. ” Summers wrote, “I have always thought of American capitalism as dominantly rule...

Inaugurating a New American Prospect Feature

Driving a stake through the heart of a zombie that refuses to die.

AP Photo/Mark Lennihan
AP Photo/Mark Lennihan A homeless man sleeps outside of a Wall Street subway station, Friday, October 7, 2016, in New York. trickle-downers.jpg T his week, the Prospect launches a new regular feature: Trickle Downers . Our aim is to expose the ongoing folly of the lie that that tax cuts for the rich, deregulation for the powerful, and wage suppression for everyone else are the polices that best create growth in capitalist economies. Trickle down originally described tax policy, but as a general rationalization of policies that reward the rich, it also describes wages, deregulation, privatization, crony enrichment, and the rest of the right-wing fantasyland. Trickle down is merely the modern version of the oldest game in human affairs—elites enriching themselves and protecting existing status relationships. In the old days we had “divine right.” Today it’s trickle-down economics. Keep in mind that it’s very hard for a small elite to sell the broad public on the proposition, “We’re rich...

Steve Mnuchin: Trickle Downer of the Week

Trump’s treasury secretary pick says they won’t cut taxes for the rich. But he’s hawking Trumped-up Reaganomics.

AP Photo/Evan Vucci
AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File Steven Mnuchin, President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for Treasury Secretary, gets on an elevator after speaking with reporters in the lobby of Trump Tower, Wednesday, November 30, 2016, in New York. trickle-downers.jpg L ast week, Trump’s nominee for treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin, went on CNBC’s Squawk Box —the preferred news program of Wall Street financiers—and made headlines with a bold declaration that the Trump administration would not slash taxes for the rich. “Any reductions we have in upper-income taxes will be offset by less deductions, so that there will be no absolute tax cut for the upper class,” he said . “There will be a big tax cut for the middle class, but any tax cuts we have for the upper class will be offset by less deductions that pay for it.” Which tax plan is he talking about? Experts on the left and right agree: Trump’s tax plan —which Mnuchin helped craft—is a massive giveaway to the wealthiest 1 percent, leaving middle-class and...

Can Trump’s Wild One-Off at Carrier Combat Corporate Welfare?

Donald Trump’s controversial deal with Carrier Corp. has ushered in a long-overdue debate over corporate giveaways that come at taxpayers’ expense.

AP Photo/Evan Vucci
AP Photo/Evan Vucci Workers watch as President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence visit the Carrier factory, Thursday, December 1, 2016, in Indianapolis, Indiana. trickle-downers.jpg S ay what you will about his hot-mess way with issues, but President-elect Donald Trump has already raised the cause of manufacturing jobs higher than any president in memory. His maneuver with United Technologies that convinced Carrier Corp. to keep 800 jobs in Indiana has drawn both praise and scorn. But by casually endorsing interstate job wars, Trump has also invited a sorely needed debate over a truly egregious aspect of corporate welfare. The Indianapolis deal is clearly a one-off with no policy precedents to benefit any other workers. But it has cued up an issue that progressive advocates can embrace and that should force Trump supporters to grapple with tough questions. Specifically: Trump’s America First populism could be channeled to make real progress toward curbing wasteful...

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