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

Why a $15 Minimum Wage Is Good Economics

Opponents of minimum-wage increases have long focused on the wrong economic questions.

(Photo: AP)
(Photo: Kaitlin McKeown/The Herald-Sun via AP) Brandon Ruffin holds a sign during a Fight for 15 rally in Durham, North Carolina, on November 29, 2016. I n our last column , we offered two bold policy ideas: Medicare for All and a job guarantee. Now, we’re pleased to see Democrats in the House and the Senate step up with an idea of their own: raising the minimum wage to $15. The Raise the Wage Act of 2017, co-sponsored by Senators Patty Murray and Bernie Sanders and House members Bobby Scott and Keith Ellison, would hike the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024. It would then index the minimum wage to the median wage (to keep low-wage workers’ pay changing at the same pace as the pay of middle-wage workers) and would gradually phase out the loopholes in federal minimum-wage law that set subminimum wages for tipped workers, teenagers who’ve just started their jobs, and workers with disabilities. The value of the federal minimum wage peaked in 1968, at $9.68 in inflation-adjusted...

Trump’s Big Tax Cut Is Unadulterated Trickle-Down Fundamentalism

In a scramble to put his name on at least one success in his first 100 days, the president relies on an old supply-side standby.   

(AP/Carolyn Kaster) Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, right, and National Economic Director Gary Cohn, arrive in the briefing room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, April 26, 2017. D onald Trump has been in office nearly 100 days with little to show for it, save for signing a bunch of fancy parchment that orders the roll back of several environmental and worker protections. His fragile ego is driving his need to do something big. And so he’s doing what Republicans generally do when all else fails: propose steep tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. On Wednesday, Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and chief economic adviser Gary Cohn unveiled their tax plan , one that, as expected, is centered on unadulterated trickle-down economics. Echoing his presidential campaign’s tax plan, Trump’s proposal calls for a 20 percent cut in the tax rate for corporations—from the current rate of 35 percent down to 15 percent. Furthermore, he wants to slash the rate for pass-...

The GOP’s Overtime Reform Plan: Fraud Masquerading as Flexibility

With Obama’s landmark overtime expansion blocked in the courts, conservatives roll out a plan that would undo overtime pay as we know it. 

(CQ Roll Call via AP Images) Rep. Martha Roby, R-Ala., and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, hold a news conference in the Capitol to announce the introduction of the "Working Families Flexibility Act," on Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015. A mid endless political cacophony in Washington, D.C., House Republicans are quietly advancing legislation that would drive a freight train through a central tenet of New Deal-era labor law: overtime. Earlier this year, Republicans introduced the Working Families Flexibility Act , a bill that would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act to allow private-sector employers to offer workers comp time instead of the premium time-and-a-half pay for overtime hours worked. As the bill proposes, workers would have the option to get an hour and a half of paid time off in the future instead of cash for every hour of overtime worked—an option that public-sector employers have been able to offer since the 1980s as a means for cutting costs. Labor advocates say that voluntary comp time...

Gary Cohn’s Glass-Steagall Support Is a Trickle-Down Trojan Horse

Trump’s top economic adviser—our Trickle Downer of the Week—is veiling his support for more deregulation behind the rhetoric of financial reform. 

(Associated Press) Gary Cohn, director of the U.S. National Economic Council, arrives to a swearing in ceremony of White House senior staff in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. L ast week, reports surfaced that Gary Cohn—the White House’s top economic adviser, former president and chief operating officer of Goldman Sachs, and purported foil to Steve Bannon’s “economic” nationalism—said in a closed-door meeting with the Senate Banking Committee that he supports legislation that would cordon off Wall Street’s speculative investment from commercial banking operations. That is, he supports some form of reinstatement of Glass-Steagall, the landmark Depression-era financial regulation law that forbade commercial banks from engaging in risky speculative investments. Congress passed and Bill Clinton signed the repeal in 1999, a move that helped lay the groundwork for the Wall Street-fueled economic meltdown in 2008. Naturally, you might question whether Trump’s Wall Street...

Flying the Bloody Skies

Patrick Gorski/NurPhoto/Sipa via AP Images
Patrick Gorski/NurPhoto/Sipa via AP Images The United Airlines terminal on display at O'hare International Airport in Chicago. W hile the videos of security cops dragging a bloodied physician down the aisle of a United Airlines plane clearly shocked the millions of people who viewed them, my guess is that, at some level, it didn’t surprise them. Indeed, the reason the videos were so damaging to United—and at some level, to the entire airline industry—is that everyone who’s flown in coach during the past several decades knows that the welfare of airline passengers, save for those who fly first- or business-class, is the least of the airlines’ concerns. The systemic abuse of those who fly coach has become the sine qua non of the airlines’ business model, as the incessant shrinkage of the seats and legroom afforded passengers clearly attests. “The roomiest economy seats you can book on the nation’s four largest airlines,” according to Consumer Reports ’ Bill McGee, “are narrower than the...

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