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

Paying for Trump’s Tax Cuts Would Devastate the Poor

When you consider how the GOP will finance their steep tax cuts, things look even grimmer for low- and middle-income Americans. 

In this Jan. 28, 2016 photo, Joe Heflin, left, of Jefferson City, waits with others for his turn to receive free groceries from the Samaritan Center food pantry in Jefferson City, Mo. Heflin, 33, also receives federally funded food stamp benefits. S ince Republicans failed to deregulate the health-care industry last month, they’ve moved on to something bigger and better: tax reform. So far, though, the Trump administration has only put forward a series of regressive, revenue-losing tax cuts: halving the corporate tax rate; slashing rates for pass-through entities like LLCs; trimming the top marginal income rate; eliminating the estate tax—the list goes on. Trump and his team are trying hard to pitch this as a plan that, for one, actually exists, and two, will benefit every one across the board. However, as those who’ve analyzed Trump’s barebones proposal have concluded, the benefits of the cuts would be highly skewed toward the top 1percent, with that group pocketing about half the...

No, a Fair Wage Is Not a ‘Free Lunch’

A liberal Washington Post columnist drinks the trickle-down Kool-Aid about raising the minimum wage. 

(AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis) In this July 24, 2017 photograph, Otibehia Allen, a single mother of five, peers outside her rented mobile home in the same isolated, low-income community of Jonestown, Miss., where she grew up among the cotton and soybean fields of the Mississippi Delta. She works 30 hours a week at barely over minimum wage. trickle-downers.jpg T he U.S. Chamber of Commerce has long used its ample power and influence to convince economists, politicians, and influencers that raising the minimum wage—and enacting any other policies that benefit workers—will be an unequivocal job-killing, robot-creating catastrophe that devastates the very people those bleeding-heart liberals are trying to help. They’ve done a very good job of turning that threat into mainstream economic gospel (though the Milton Friedman wing of the economics profession didn’t require any persuading). That increasing the minimum wage will create untenable levels of job loss, leaving workers on the margins of...

Sam Brownback’s Not One for Religious Freedom

AP Photo/John Hanna, File
AP Photo/John Hanna, File Kansas Governor Sam Brownback speaks during a news conference at the Statehouse in Topeka. trickle-downers_35.jpg C ourtesy of his friends in the Trump administration, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback now has a ticket out of his state, where his blind faith in trickle-down economics (TDE) plunged Kansas into economic chaos and dragged down his own approval rating to a level so low that he’s duking it out with New Jersey’s Chris Christie as America’s least popular governor. But the position to which Trump has nominated Brownback — Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom—is one for which Brownback’s performance as governor leaves him almost uniquely unqualified. Immediately following his election as governor in the 2010 Tea Party landslide, Brownback announced he’d call on his fellow Republicans in the legislature (who held a decisive majority) to eliminate the state’s top income tax bracket, exempt a large number of businesses from any income tax...

Gutting Health Care Not Enough? Trump Moves to Undercut Overtime for Millions

As a thank you to his working-class supporters, the billionaire takes the next step toward eviscerating the Obama-era overtime expansion. 

(Shutterstock) I f the millions of voters—most prominently, workers in the Rust Belt—who switched their loyalties from Barack Obama in 2012 to Donald Trump in 2016 were crying out for anything, it probably wasn’t for the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division to submit a Request for Information about the Obama-era rule that was supposed to expand overtime pay to millions of workers last year. But that’s precisely what happened Tuesday as Trump’s Labor Department gave its clearest signal yet that it intends either to considerably weaken or simply eliminate the Obama overtime update that would greatly increase the number of salaried workers who would qualify for overtime. The move is a swift kick in the teeth to those forgotten men and women who voted for Trump—as well as the millions of workers who didn’t. The last time the overtime salary threshold was substantially heightened was in 1975, when President Gerald Ford set it at $23,660—about $58,000 in today’s dollars. That change...

The Perils of $7.25

Reflections on eight years of a minimal minimum wage

(Photo: AP/Mike Groll) A man listens to a speaker during a rally to raise the minimum wage outside a McDonald's restaurant at the Empire State Plaza concourse in Albany, N.Y in May 2014. O n July 24, 2009 the federal minimum wage was increased from $6.55 to $7.25 an hour, the third and final increment of a bipartisan-backed law passed in 2007. In the eight years since, the United States’ wage floor has remained stuck at that level, the prospects of an increase stymied by congressional inaction and hostile corporate influence. For decades, the federal minimum wage was a rather effective tool for ensuring that workers could earn enough to support a family. Now, its power has been all but eroded. At the minimum’s peak value in 1968, a full-time minimum-wage worker earned about $19,500 in today’s dollars, enough to keep a family of three above the poverty line. Through the early 1980s, the minimum wage remained strong enough to keep a family of two out of poverty. Since then, the minimum...

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