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

Mnuchin’s Promise to Not Cut Taxes for the Rich Is a Giant Farce

Democrats should grill the treasury secretary-designate about the Republicans’ planned windfall of tax cuts for the wealthy. 

(Photo: AP/Carolyn Kaster) Treasury Secretary-designate Steven Mnuchin in Trump Tower in November. A s the confirmation hearing for Treasury Secretary-designate Steven Mnuchin gets started, there will be ample scrutiny—and rightfully so—of OneWest, the neighborhood-eviscerating foreclosure machine that he headed. But as the person on the verge of setting the new administration’s tax policy, Mnuchin should also be questioned about his pledge that “there will be no absolute tax cut for the upper class,” which he made on CNBC back in November. “ Any reductions we have in upper-income taxes will be offset by less deductions, so 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.” With this statement, he created a clear standard—the “Mnuchin test”—by which to hold the Trump administration: Any tax reform that comes to Trump’s desk...

Obamacare Repealers: Trickle Downer of the Week

Let’s be clear: Repealing the Affordable Care Act would be a tax giveaway to the wealthiest few, at the expense of everyone else. 

(Photo: AP/Tom Williams) Vice President-elect Mike Pence, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Speaker Paul Ryan, and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise laughing after a meeting of the House Republican Conference in September. L ast week, the Republican-controlled Senate and House began the first steps in repealing President Obama’s landmark Affordable Care Act, with no semblance of a real replacement plan in sight. Health-care coverage for the roughly 20 million Americans who gained access under Obamacare is now in serious jeopardy—a life-threatening prospect for many. Beyond that, the cost of repeal (without a replacement) is astronomical. A new report from the Congressional Budget Office, which scored the costs of the Republicans’ 2015 repeal, found that 18 million people would lose their insurance within the first year, and premiums for all would climb by as much 25 percent. After the elimination of Medicaid expansion and insurance subsidies, the number of uninsured would increase...

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce: Trickle Downer of the Week

In his annual address, Tom Donohue, the head of the powerful business lobby, staked out his aggressive plan to cut taxes and gut regulations—all in the name of “growth.” 

(Photo: AP/Jacquelyn Martin) U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas Donohue speaks at the State of American Business 2015 event in Washington. trickle-downers.jpg The mood was jubilant in the headquarters of the United States Chamber of Commerce, an impressive stone building that looms across the street from the White House, as longtime president Tom Donohue made his annual “ State of American Business ” address Wednesday morning. After eight years of a Democratic president who implemented, in the face of unprecedented levels of political opposition, a series of powerful industry regulations—from Obamacare and Dodd-Frank to the Clean Power Plan, the fiduciary rule, and a new overtime threshold—the GOP has secured full control of the federal government. And the Chamber of Commerce could not be more excited. “We see a once-in-a-generation opportunity to enact major reforms that could transform the American economy from a low-growth to a high-growth economy,” Donohue...

As We Enter Age of Trumponomics, Five Charts That Highlight Persistent Worker Woes

­Decades of trickle-down trends hurting working people will worsen under the next administration. 

(Photo: AP/Mark Lennihan) A FedEx driver loads Dell computers for delivery, Friday, Oct. 23, 2015 in New York. trickle-downers.jpg I t is now apparent to anyone paying attention that the trends driving the working and middle classes’ woes—from decades of expanding corporate power to the silencing of workers’ voices—will be exacerbated by the incoming Trump administration. Here are six charts from the Economic Policy Institute that underscore the systemic inequities for workers that will persist—and almost certainly worsen—under the right-wing doctrine of Trumponomics. The gap between productivity and worker pay continues to widen. During the postwar economic boom (in tandem with a strong organized labor movement), worker pay levels increased at the same pace as productivity. However, beginning around 1973, hourly compensation stagnated while productivity levels kept increasing. As the chart shows, productivity has increased more than 73 percent since 1973 while the average worker pay...

How Not to Make America Great Again

AP Photo/Claire Galofaro
AP Photo/Claire Galofaro Terry Wright, a 59-year-old retired union painter, adjusts the U.S. flag on his porch in Portland, a white, working class neighborhood in Louisville. trickle-downers.jpg I t’s the 1950s, Donald Trump told New York Times reporter David Sanger , that is the “again” he has in mind when he speaks of making American great again. We may cavil that in the Fifties, African Americans still suffered under Jim Crow laws and women endured their own distinctive discrimination, but for the white male working class—whose heirs, today, are the core of Trump’s support—things had never been better. They were still the guys who’d won World War II, and their newfound material prosperity was the social miracle of the age, and testament to the rightness of the American way. But if Trump’s appeal to his base is his promise to restore these onetime protagonists of the American epic to their rightful place, he’ll need a radically different set of economic policies than those he now...

Pages