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

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. 

trickle-downers.jpg In 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 broad hiring freeze and...

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. 

trickle-downers.jpg Burger 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 public assistance funding according to an estimate from the...

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. 

As 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 must greatly...

Obamacare Repealers: Trickle Downer of the Week

Let’s be clear: Repealing the Affordable Care Act would be a tax giveaway to the wealthiest few, at the expense of everyone else. 

Last week, the Republican-controlled Senate and House began the first steps in repealing President Obama’s landmark Affordable Care Act, with no semblance of a real replacement plan in sight. Health-care coverage for the roughly 20 million Americans who gained access under Obamacare is now in serious jeopardy—a life-threatening prospect for many. Beyond that, the cost of repeal (without a replacement) is astronomical. A new report from the Congressional Budget Office, which scored the costs of the Republicans’ 2015 repeal, found that 18 million people would lose their insurance within the first year, and premiums for all would climb by as much 25 percent. After the elimination of Medicaid expansion and insurance subsidies, the number of uninsured would increase to 32 million by 2026 and premiums would be about 50 percent higher. In short, repealing the law without a replacement plan could be a political disaster for Republicans—and yet, it remains their top...

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce: Trickle Downer of the Week

In his annual address, Tom Donohue, the head of the powerful business lobby, staked out his aggressive plan to cut taxes and gut regulations—all in the name of “growth.” 

trickle-downers.jpg The mood was jubilant in the headquarters of the United States Chamber of Commerce, an impressive stone building that looms across the street from the White House, as longtime president Tom Donohue made his annual “ State of American Business ” address Wednesday morning. After eight years of a Democratic president who implemented, in the face of unprecedented levels of political opposition, a series of powerful industry regulations—from Obamacare and Dodd-Frank to the Clean Power Plan, the fiduciary rule, and a new overtime threshold—the GOP has secured full control of the federal government. And the Chamber of Commerce could not be more excited. “We see a once-in-a-generation opportunity to enact major reforms that could transform the American economy from a low-growth to a high-growth economy,” Donohue pronounced to a room packed full of business leaders. Donohue pledged the chamber would pursue only those policies and reforms...

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