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

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...

Rent Increases and Work Requirements for the Poor, Mortgage-Interest Deductions for the Rich

The Trump administration’s proposal to reduce housing assistance for the poor couldn’t contrast more sharply from the housing assistance showered on the rich. 

AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson takes his seat before testifying before a House Committee on Appropriation subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill T he Trump administration’s proposal to reform housing programs for the poor, unveiled last week, is just one among its many plans to gut anti-poverty programs, even as its authors bleat platitudes about getting people “back to work.” The proposal from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), outlined in the 2019 president’s budget, would raise rents on around four million families who receive federal rental assistance. HUD proposes increasing recipients’ rent payments from 30 percent of gross income to 35 percent, and also triples the minimum required rent payment from a $50 cap to about $150. On average, people would see their rents raised by about 44 percent . In addition to forcing people living in poverty to hand over money that’s probably already earmarked for other...

Kevin McCarthy: Trickle Downer of The Week

The House majority leader is the front-runner to succeed Paul Ryan atop the House Republicans. He’d also be a fitting heir to Ryan’s trickle-down legacy.

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan speak to reporters in Washington “ You’ve got to remember, I’m the only guy in the modern era who didn’t want this job,” Speaker of the House Paul Ryan told Politico Magazine last fall. Nonetheless, Ryan entered the speakership with a clear sense of mission. There were taxes to be cut and safety nets to be slashed. Forced to traverse a chasm between Republicans factions, Ryan considers holding his caucus together in December for the tax overhaul to be the highest point in his speakership. Now, with Ryan’s announced departure, those hoping for a change in the trajectory of the Republican Party to arrive with Ryan’s replacement should brace themselves for disappointment. For the second time in nearly three years, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California appears to be the odds-on favorite to take the spot as number-one Republican in the House. McCarthy has been at the center of...

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