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

Three Reasons Trickle-Down Tax Cuts Don’t Work

(Photo: Shutterstock)
(Photo: Shutterstock) History shows that bad economic ideas almost never die, especially when they serve the wealthy and powerful. There’s no better example of this truth than trickle-down tax cuts. As we write this, the Trump administration is teeing up a tax plan that slashes taxes for the wealthy and the corporate sector, does little for everyone else (repealing the Affordable Care Act actually raises taxes on some with low and moderate incomes), and stiffs the U.S. Treasury to the tune of $6.2 trillion, according to the Tax Policy Center’s estimates. Evidence does not hurt this zombie. We and others have shown the lack of correlation between tax changes and the indices of growth—GDP, jobs, incomes—touted by the trickle downers. Among those claiming that Trump’s plan will spur economic growth are the same folks who told us that a trickle-down tax cut experiment in Kansas in 2013 would bring an “immediate and lasting boost” to the state’s economy. Four years later, that immediate...

Donald Trump: Trickle Downer of the Week

The deregulator-in-chief’s crusade to slash 75 percent of the federal government’s rules is based on the myth that regulations kill jobs. 

(Photo: AP/FEREX) President Donald Trump signs one of five executive orders related to the oil pipeline industry in the oval office. I n a meeting Monday with the country’s leading business moguls, President Trump not only reiterated his promise to slash the corporate tax rate down between 15 to 20 percent; he pledged to cut federal regulations by 75 percent or “maybe more.” “Now we’re gonna have regulations—and they’re gonna be just as strong, and just as good, and just as protective of the people as the regulation we have right now,” Trump pronounced . “The problem with the regulation that we have right now is you can’t do anything. I have people telling me they have more people working on regulations than they have doing product, and it’s out of control. It’s gotten out of control.” His declaration should come as no surprise—he’s said time and time again that deregulation will be a major priority of his administration. Trump has already grinded his federal agencies to a halt with a...

Trump’s Labor Nominee Gets Rich on Taxpayer’s Dime

Andy Puzder oversees a fast-food empire that’s fueled by low-wage labor—but the public subsidizes that low pay in a big way. 

(Photo: AP/Christian Gooden) Fast-food workers protest outside the Hardee's headquarters in downtown Saint Louis on January 12. B urger baron Andy Puzder opposes substantial increases to the minimum wage, objects to paying his managers overtime, and thinks welfare programs prevent his employees from working toward promotions. He really doesn’t think much of his workers— as CNN reported , in a 2011 speech Puzder lamented that his company hires the “best of the worst.” When he took over the CKE Restaurants group, he insisted that there be “no more people behind the counter unless they have all their teeth.” Trump’s nominee for labor secretary is a leading figure in the parasite economy , one of those employers who get rich by paying their workers a pittance and counting on taxpayers to foot the bill for the necessities those workers can’t afford. And by not paying his workers a living wage or providing affordable health care, Puzder is costing taxpayers about $247 million a year in...

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...

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