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

Good Riddance, Sam Brownback

The governor may be (finally) leaving Kansas, but his trickle-down legacy has saddled us all. 

(Gage Skidmore) Governor Sam Brownback of Kansas speaking at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. trickle-downers_35.jpg U ltimately, it was Mike Pence who bailed Kansas out from its economic disaster. The vice president had to cast two tie-breaking votes in the Senate Wednesday to get Sam Brownback, his fellow conservative evangelical and GOP right-winger, confirmed as President Trump’s ambassador at-large for religious freedom—a position Brownback was nominated for nearly a year ago. Brownback has now officially announced that he’s resigning his position as Kansas governor next Thursday. The former U.S. senator was first elected governor in 2010, spearheading the Tea Party backlash against Barack Obama. He promptly turned his own state into a Petri dish for radical trickle-down economics , promising it would prompt a “shot of adrenaline” into the Kansas economy. The reckless cuts to income and business taxes didn’t work, as I...

Bank of Whose America?

By eliminating a popular free checking account, Bank of America only reminds us that traditional banking is for everyone—except the poor.

AP Photo/Mark Lennihan
AP Photo/Mark Lennihan Customers use an ATM outside a Bank of America branch in New York trickle-downers_35.jpg B ank of America has recently faced a backlash over the elimination of a basic checking account that required no monthly fee or minimum balance. The eBanking account, introduced in 2010, allowed customers to waive the monthly fee if they only used digital banking services. In 2013, Bank of America began slowly moving depositors from the eBanking account to a standard account that came with a $12 monthly fee (waived if a person has a monthly direct deposit of at least $250 or $1,500 in the account). That process was just completed, and the free eBanking account is no more. The elimination of the basic, no-fee account has sparked anger from people who see the move as pushing low-income people away from traditional banking services. A Change.org petition currently has over 50,000 signatures for Bank of America to bring the account back. Low-income people do tend to use...

For Banks, Double the Trickle-Down Delight

Trump’s tax cuts and deregulation are a bonanza for Wall Street.

(Sipa USA via AP) Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co., speaks at an Economic Club of Washington event in Washington, D.C., on September 12, 2016. trickle-downers.jpg C itigroup, one the country’s four mega-banks, is taking a $22 billion loss from President Trump’s tax plan. But the banking giant is not worried. In fact, its stock ticked up and its top executives are elated. That’s because the loss is a mere blip on the radar—a one-time cost for bringing back profits stashed overseas. The real bonanza is on the horizon. “Tax reform not only leads to higher net income and increased returns but also serves to strengthen our capital-generation capabilities going forward," CEO Michael Corbat pronounced . Citigroup is not the only bank projecting an even rosier future. As The New York Times reported , the country’s financial institutions are perhaps the biggest winners of all. JP Morgan Chase (the biggest bank behemoth of them all) and Wells Fargo both expect to pay...

What Republicans Have Learned from Their Tax Cut Debacles: Nothing

Despite the failures of trickle-down economics in Kansas and Oklahoma, Nebraska seems poised to give it a go.

AP Photo/Nati Harnik
AP Photo/Nati Harnik Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts delivers his annual State of the State address to lawmakers in Lincoln trickle-downers_35.jpg L ess than two weeks into the new legislative session, Nebraska lawmakers already look to be moving full speed ahead on enacting corporate and top-rate tax cuts—even amid an ongoing budget shortfall that has resulted in severe spending cuts to state services. During his State of the State address on Wednesday, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts introduced the preliminary framework for a tax plan that would see the state’s top corporate and income tax rate cut twice over the next two years. The address marked what will be a second attempt by the governor at passing a tax reform bill after a plan he sponsored fell six votes short of passing the state’s Republican majority unicameral legislature last year, thanks to opposition from Democrats and some moderate Republicans. This bipartisan group of dissenters felt the bill didn’t do enough for...

Dynamically Scorned

Steve Mnuchin’s “fake math” analysis admits that the tax cuts will not pay for themselves. Will it matter? 

(Photo: AP/Alex Brandon) Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is seated during a ceremony to swear in Joseph M. Otting as Comptroller of the Currency, at the Treasury Department, Monday, Nov. 27, 2017 in Washington. T reasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has claimed from Day One that the Trump tax cuts will pay for themselves with a healthy dose of economic growth. “Not only will this tax plan pay for itself, but it will pay down debt,” he said in September. For almost as long, he has promised that his tax analysts would produce a detailed analysis that backed up that claim. Mnuchin said he had more than 100 analysts working on the report, which would be released before Congress voted. But as the tax bill was unveiled, details were hashed out in the House and Senate, and votes took place, tax wonks questioned whether the report would ever come out. As it turns out, The New York Times found out that nobody in the Treasury’s Office of Tax Policy—which is in charge of economic forecasting—was...

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