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

How Justice Kennedy’s Retirement Could Lead to an Increase in Housing Discrimination

Kennedy was the swing vote on a case that affirmed the Fair Housing Act protects against discrimination even if it isn’t explicit.

AP Photo/Evan Vucci Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, from left, Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Anthony Kennedy, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Justice Stephen Breyer, and Justice Sonia Sotomayor in 2016 trickle-downers_54.jpg J ustice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement has pushed a number of significant issues to the forefront of discussion, since his more right-wing replacement could join the rest of the conservatives on the Court to overturn such landmark decisions as Roe v. Wade and Obergefell v. Hodges . One case of particular importance on which Kennedy provided the swing vote involves curbing discrimination—even if it’s subtle discrimination—in housing policy. 2015’s Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. confirmed that the government can use “ disparate impact ” as means to prove discrimination in housing, which is how the Fair Housing Act had been interpreted since its inception in 1968. Disparate impact is the idea that...

Federal Reorganization Plan Is Sleight of Hand to Gut the Safety Net

The plan to consolidate departments may be how Trump plans to corral assistance programs in order to destroy them.

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci) Director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House on June 21, 2018. O ver a year ago, the now-ousted Steve Bannon declared that a priority of the just-settling-in Trump administration was the “destruction of the administrative state.” Trump’s cabinet appointees, Bannon said, “were selected for a reason and that is the deconstruction.” While Bannon no longer roams the halls of the White House, his legacy persists (one need only look to the white nationalist immigration policies seeping out of the administration). And the destruction of the administrative state continues. Last week, the Trump administration released a plan to consolidate federal agencies and move certain programs to different agencies. While this news may seem innocuous—perhaps nothing more than federal housecleaning—the proposal is likely rooted in a desire to cut social programs. The first clue that social programs may be threatened...

Will Another D.C.-Based Government Disdain Democratic Norms?

Odua Images/Shutterstock trickle-downers_54.jpg W hen is a free and open election invalid? Apparently, when elected officials don’t like the result. That’s the philosophy of Maine’s Trumpier-than-Trump Republican Governor Paul LePage, who has refused to expand Medicaid in his state despite the legally binding vote of Maine’s citizens, who passed a Medicaid-expansion initiative. LePage has been ordered by the courts to implement the expansion, but still refuses. Mercifully, LePage is termed out of office at year’s end. Something like that could never happen in the nation’s most liberal jurisdiction, right? Well, maybe it could. On Tuesday, voters in Washington, D.C., passed an initiative that would raise the minimum wage of tipped workers—currently, only $3.30—to the same level as the city’s non-tipped workers: $15, to be phased in over the next eight years. Unlike the Maine initiative, this one (Initiative 77 by name) was only advisory, but avowed liberals on the D.C. Council and the...

Missouri's Greitens Guts Public-Sector Unions on His Way out the Door

The scandal-plagued governor scrambled to sign anti-union legislation and a stack of other bills before he resigned.

(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) Former Governor Eric Greitens speaks on January 29, 2018, in Palmyra, Missouri. trickle-downers_54.jpg I n the waning hours of his tenure as governor of Missouri, Eric Greitens delivered on his campaign pledge to kneecap the state’s labor unions. A former up-and-comer in the Republican Party, Greitens’s star quickly dimmed after allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced and a felony charge of invasion of privacy and a charge of potential campaign-finance violations followed. Under the threat of impeachment proceedings in the state legislature, Greitens announced his resignation right after Memorial Day, giving himself until the end of that week to tie up loose ends on his way out the door. And tie them up, he did. Greitens signed a staggering 77 bills into law before handing the reins over to Mike Parson, his lieutenant governor. One of those bills was H.B. 1413 , which would require unionized government employees to vote every three years on whether they want...

Trump Moves to Curb Federal Employee Labor Protections

Unions representing federal employees are on the chopping block.

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin Wearing a mask that says "silenced," Appollos Baker, with the American Federation of Government Employees, attends a rally in Washington. trickle-downers_54.jpg I f an administration wanted to destroy the power of labor unions, it might first attack unions that are subject to executive orders. President Trump headed in that direction late last Friday, when he signed three executive orders that place new restrictions on federal employee labor unions. The orders , which affect more than two million federal employees, limit employees’ use of “ official time ” (the amount of time a federal employee can use to work on union matters while on the clock) to 25 percent of the work day; revamp the collective bargaining process, and make it easier for managers to fire employees. House Republicans want to cut back on “official time,” which they describe as “union time on the people’s dime” (and was actually the title Republicans used for last week’s House Oversight and...

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