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

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...

Fast-Food Blues: Workers Protest Low Wages, Sexual Harassment as McDonald’s Profits Soar

At annual shareholders’ meeting, the fast-food chain’s tone-deaf executives fail to confront critical issues facing the company’s workers.

AP Photo/Teresa Crawford Solo Littlejohn, a fast food worker from Cicero, Illinois, joins a 2016 Fight for 15 protest in Chicago trickle-downers_35.jpg S hortly before the company’s annual shareholder meeting last week, more than 100 cooks and cashiers rallied in the rain outside McDonald’s new headquarters in Chicago’s West Loop to demand higher wages. In recent years, the meeting has attracted demonstrations organized by the union-backed Fight for 15 movement. But in 2018, a new grievance appeared on the roster of complaints against one of the world’s largest fast-food chains: sexual harassment. With the help of Fight for 15, ten current and former female McDonald’s employees in nine different cities have taken legal action against the company over alleged instances of harassment by employees and managers. Most shareholders appeared largely indifferent to the unrest. The topics of pay and harassment did not appear on the group’s agenda, which included elections to the board of...

Scott Walker and the Failure of Trickle Down

In Minnesota, progressive taxes and social spending have created more and better-paying jobs than next-door neighbor Wisconsin has created through tax and spending cuts.

(AP Photo/Scott Bauer)
(AP Photo/Scott Bauer) Governor Scott Walker speaks with reporters on February 1, 2018, in Madison, Wisconsin. I n January 2011, two new governors took office in the neighboring states of Minnesota and Wisconsin. Minnesota’s new governor, Democrat Mark Dayton, had campaigned largely on a platform of taxing the rich to provide the services the state needed. By contrast, Wisconsin’s new governor, Republican Scott Walker had pledged to cut taxes in order to create jobs. Over the course of the past seven years, these two governors have taken their states on vastly different trajectories: Minnesota to the left, and Wisconsin to the right. How these two diametrically opposed approaches have played out has been chronicled before, including by the Prospect , where in 2015, as the governors embarked on their second terms, Ann Markusen wrote how “Minnesota and Wisconsin offer something close to a laboratory experiment in competing economic policies.” Now, nearing the completion of those second...

OPM Director Wants Federal Workers to Join Retirement Race to the Bottom

Few civil servants work for the federal government to get rich, but at least they can count on a decent pension. The Trump administration wants to change all that.

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin The Office of Personnel Management in Washington W hat better way to kick off Public Service Recognition Week than a proposal to cut retirement benefits for current and former federal employees? Before the start of the annual celebration during the first full week of May, Office of Personnel Management Director Jeff Pon sent a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan outlining the administration’s proposals to cut monthly retirement income for all future federal retirees and to require employees to fund a larger portion of their retirement. The proposals, which mirror requests made in the White House’s fiscal year 2018 budget, are sure further strain to an already frayed relationship between the Trump administration and federal workers. The requested changes would reduce cost-of-living adjustments for current retirees in the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), which provides retirement benefits for most federal workers hired before 1984. Such adjustments would...

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