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

Trickle-Down in Steel

AP Photo/Jeff Roberson A steelworker speaks on a radio at the U.S. Steel Granite City Works facility in Granite City, Illinois. trickle-downers_35.jpg F or the American steel industry, these are boom times. President Trump’s tariffs on steel imports have been a boon to domestic manufacturers, who are enjoying profits unlike any they’ve seen in years. And as for the steelworkers? Well, not so much. The profit surge has come just as the multi-year contracts that the United Steelworkers has with the two mega-makers of American steel—Arcelor Mittal and U.S. Steel—have expired. The companies have presented their 31,000 unionized employees with proposed new contracts that appear designed to demonstrate just how farcical trickle-down economics actually is. At first glance, the pay increases appear generous. But the companies are also asking their workers to start paying for health benefits that cost an arm and a leg. According to a report in today’s Los Angeles Times , the net effect “would...

Pressuring Bosses Is Good. Policy Change Is Better.

Amazon raised its minimum wage to $15 an hour, but shouldn’t get a pat on the back just for doing what the government should have done long ago.

AP Photo/David Zalubowski A worker moves an item from a cart to the line for boxing at the Amazon fulfillment center in Aurora, Colorado. trickle-downers_54.jpg A fter years of bad press about Amazon’s treatment of its workers, the company announced Tuesday that it is raising its employees’ wages to $15 an hour, effective next month. The new wage will cover all employees, including temporary and seasonal workers. It’s clear that the company succumbed to public pressure from worker movements as well as criticism from progressive politicians, particularly Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. The announcement comes amid growing agitation for higher wages and better working conditions. This week, the Fight for $15 is coordinating protests and strikes among fast food workers seeking better pay and union representation. Just last week, airport workers at the three New York-area airports won a $19 minimum wage—which will be the highest targeted minimum wage in the country—after years of union...

Trump’s America: Poor Immigrants Need Not Apply

A proposed Department of Homeland Security rule would make it more difficult for indigent people to obtain green cards.

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File Eighteen-year-old Dunia Bueso, center, and her relative, Augustin Vargas, left, look at Bueso's one-year-old son, Joshua Tinoco, foreground, sitting on the lap of Martina Perez, at their home in Los Angeles. Of the three, only Bueso has been issued a green card. trickle-downers_54.jpg T he Trump administration is weaponizing food stamps, family financial assistance, and other public benefits to make good on its promise to drive poor immigrants out of the country. On September 22, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a preliminary version of a draft regulation that would give the federal government broader authority to deny green-cards to people who could become “public charges,” that is, dependent on welfare programs. DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement that the change aims to promote “immigrant self-sufficiency and protect finite resources by ensuring that they are not likely to become burdens on American taxpayers.” But a...

McDonald’s Workers Strike to Demand Response to Sexual Harassment Charges

Women employees walked off the job to force the company to take their complaints seriously.

AP Photo/Richard Vogel Striking McDonald's workers carry a banner and march towards a McDonald's in south Los Angeles on Tuesday, September 18, 2018. trickle-downers_54.jpg O n Tuesday, women workers at McDonald’s made history. McDonald’s workers in ten cities went on strike during the lunch hour to protest sexual harassment, as well as inadequate responses or retaliation they’d received from management. For its part, McDonald’s says that no workers walked off the job. McDonald’s restaurants in Chicago; Durham, North Carolina; Kansas City, Missouri; Los Angeles; Miami; Milwaukee; New Orleans; Orlando; San Francisco; and St. Louis all saw strikes as workers demanded that the McDonald’s Corporation respond to their complaints. A similar strike over the sexual harassment of women workers has not happened in over 100 years , when, in 1912, corset workers in Kalamazoo, Michigan, walked off the job in protest of sexual abuse. Women who work at McDonald’s restaurants across the country spoke...

Tipped Workers Do Better When They’re Paid the Same as Everyone Else

A new study shows that laws like D.C.’s Initiative 77 boost employees’ incomes and don’t cripple the restaurant industry. 

Iryna Inshyna/Shutterstock trickle-downers_35.jpg T he debate over increasing the minimum wage for tipped workers in Washington, D.C., is set to resume next week, as the D.C. City Council returns from its summer recess to decide the future of the voter-approved ballot measure known as Initiative 77. Initiative 77, which passed with 55 percent of vote in the low-turnout June primary election, would gradually increase the tipped minimum wage over the next eight years until it reaches parity with the city’s regular minimum wage of $15 in 2026. Currently, tipped workers in the District must be paid at least $3.89 an hour. If their earnings fall short of the city’s $13.25 minimum wage after counting tips, employers are then required to make up the difference. Gratuities paid by the customer that cover $9.36 difference between the two wages is known as the “tip credit.” Eight states, including California and Washington, have eliminated or begun to phase out the tip credit, bringing the...

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