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

A Bad Week for Paul Manafort and School Scammers -- But a Great Year for White-Collar Crime

Under Trump, prosecutions for white-collar crimes have reached an all-time low, while prosecutions for being an undocumented immigrant have soared.

AP Photo/Alex Brandon Paul Manafort leaves Federal District Court in Washington. trickle-downers_35.jpg G oing strictly by recent headlines, one could be forgiven for thinking it’s a bad time to be a white-collar criminal in America. Last week, former Trump campaign manager and grifter extraordinaire Paul Manafort was sentenced to seven years in federal prison for financial and fraud convictions; the very next day, Justice Department prosecutors charged at least 50 people involved in a multimillion-dollar bribery scheme to get unqualified children into elite universities. Justice served, right? Not exactly. The unfortunate truth is that white-collar crime has always been relatively low-risk, high-reward in the United States—and under the Trump administration it’s become an even better racket. Grifting has entered a new golden age. A new case-by-case analysis of Justice Department data shows that white-collar crime prosecutions have dropped to an all-time low this year. The government...

Amazon Is Giving Up on New York, and Activists in Nashville and Northern Virginia Are Energized

Like their New York counterparts, organizers in other potential sites of Amazon expansion want a more democratic process that produces more equitable growth.

AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews Demonstrators in Long Island City, Queens, hold up anti-Amazon signs during a protest against the company's now-abandoned plans to build parts of its second headquarters in New York City. trickle-downers_54.jpg A mazon CEO Jeff Bezos is giving up his helipad—at least, the one planned for New York City. In a stunning move announced Thursday, Amazon is pulling out of its deal to build a second headquarters in New York, as “a number of state and local politicians have made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type of relationships that are required to go forward with the project,” the corporate giant said in a statement. Amazon was to receive roughly $3 billion in tax subsidies in an opaque deal that was approved without input from local residents and local politicians (other than Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill DeBlasio). Amazon’s contest for its second headquarters, which had cities throwing money at the company,...

Thanks to Trump, Payday Lenders Will Keep on Merrily Bilking the Poor

The government shutdown reminded us that millions of Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck—which payday lenders will only continue to exploit if the CFPB has its way.

AP Photo/Nati Harnik The EZ Money Check Cashing storefront in Omaha, Nebraska trickle-downers_54.jpg T he cycle of the payday loan is a well-known horror story. A person needs money, and they need it fast, so they visit a payday lender with names like EZ Cash or Cash Express. They get their money on the spot. The trouble comes later, when it’s time to repay the loan. Most borrowers default on that small-dollar loan, which is how EZ Cash profits—as the loan is renewed or rolled over and the fees rack up. One of the last regulations published under President Obama’s director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Richard Cordray, was a 2017 rule that would have curbed the most-egregious forms of payday lending. The Trump administration on Wednesday proposed to revise that rule—aiming to gut a powerful provision designed to protect borrowers. The oft-cited statistic that the average American doesn’t have the means to come up with $400 in an emergency was thrown into sharp...

Border Wall or No, Immigrants Will Soon Have to Scale a Paywall

Proposed new Trump administration rules could keep low-income immigrants from applying for green cards or citizenship.

AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee New citizens take the Oath of Allegiance during a naturalization ceremony at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services field office in Oakland Park, Florida. trickle-downers_54.jpg J ust in case his border wall won’t be sufficient to keep out immigrants, President Trump is erecting a paywall as well. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services plans to restrict access to fee waivers used by low-income immigrants applying for U.S. citizenship, green cards, and various other immigration benefits, potentially pricing out tens of thousands of low-income applicants as a result. The USCIS proposal , which was published last October, would reverse an Obama-era policy that loosened eligibility requirements for waiving agency fees. The types of applications affected by the reversal range from more mundane activities, like replacing a green card or registering a permanent residence, to matters of vital importance. USCIS waivers can be used by immigrants to...

What Taxing the Rich Could Yield

America’s 15 wealthiest families are worth a combined $618 billion. That’s not good for our economy—or our democracy.

From left, Melania Trump, Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump, and Donald Trump Jr. trickle-downers_54.jpg T he New York Times investigation into the Trump family’s financial misdeeds recently revealed what had been obvious to most: The president is no self-made man. Like so many bombshell stories about the president, this story has been largely overlooked as new and more flagrant Trump indignities erupt nearly every day. Yet the tactics that the report shines a light on are hardly peculiar to the Trumps. Many wealthy families use similar tactics to stockpile their wealth and keep it from taxation that could reinvest it to meet the nation’s needs. And in doing so, these families keep building wealth with which they can wield political power. A new report from the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) takes a close look at the billionaire multi-generation families who wield that power—the American dynasties. Taking their cue from the Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest people in the United States, the...

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