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

Sam Brownback’s Not One for Religious Freedom

AP Photo/John Hanna, File
AP Photo/John Hanna, File Kansas Governor Sam Brownback speaks during a news conference at the Statehouse in Topeka. trickle-downers_35.jpg C ourtesy of his friends in the Trump administration, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback now has a ticket out of his state, where his blind faith in trickle-down economics (TDE) plunged Kansas into economic chaos and dragged down his own approval rating to a level so low that he’s duking it out with New Jersey’s Chris Christie as America’s least popular governor. But the position to which Trump has nominated Brownback — Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom—is one for which Brownback’s performance as governor leaves him almost uniquely unqualified. Immediately following his election as governor in the 2010 Tea Party landslide, Brownback announced he’d call on his fellow Republicans in the legislature (who held a decisive majority) to eliminate the state’s top income tax bracket, exempt a large number of businesses from any income tax...

Gutting Health Care Not Enough? Trump Moves to Undercut Overtime for Millions

As a thank you to his working-class supporters, the billionaire takes the next step toward eviscerating the Obama-era overtime expansion. 

(Shutterstock) I f the millions of voters—most prominently, workers in the Rust Belt—who switched their loyalties from Barack Obama in 2012 to Donald Trump in 2016 were crying out for anything, it probably wasn’t for the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division to submit a Request for Information about the Obama-era rule that was supposed to expand overtime pay to millions of workers last year. But that’s precisely what happened Tuesday as Trump’s Labor Department gave its clearest signal yet that it intends either to considerably weaken or simply eliminate the Obama overtime update that would greatly increase the number of salaried workers who would qualify for overtime. The move is a swift kick in the teeth to those forgotten men and women who voted for Trump—as well as the millions of workers who didn’t. The last time the overtime salary threshold was substantially heightened was in 1975, when President Gerald Ford set it at $23,660—about $58,000 in today’s dollars. That change...

The Perils of $7.25

Reflections on eight years of a minimal minimum wage

(Photo: AP/Mike Groll) A man listens to a speaker during a rally to raise the minimum wage outside a McDonald's restaurant at the Empire State Plaza concourse in Albany, N.Y in May 2014. O n July 24, 2009 the federal minimum wage was increased from $6.55 to $7.25 an hour, the third and final increment of a bipartisan-backed law passed in 2007. In the eight years since, the United States’ wage floor has remained stuck at that level, the prospects of an increase stymied by congressional inaction and hostile corporate influence. For decades, the federal minimum wage was a rather effective tool for ensuring that workers could earn enough to support a family. Now, its power has been all but eroded. At the minimum’s peak value in 1968, a full-time minimum-wage worker earned about $19,500 in today’s dollars, enough to keep a family of three above the poverty line. Through the early 1980s, the minimum wage remained strong enough to keep a family of two out of poverty. Since then, the minimum...

Speaker Ryan, Adrift in Massachusetts

Paul Ryan talks trickle-down taxation with workers in one of the poorest cities in the state.

AP Photo/Stephan Savoia
AP Photo/Stephan Savoia House Speaker Paul Ryan addresses workers at a New Balance athletic shoe factory after he toured the factory floor in Lawrence, Massachusetts. trickle-downers_35.jpg H ouse Speaker Paul Ryan switched gears on Thursday to talk about something completely different: “Made in America Week” and federal tax code reform—two of the GOP’s current talking points as their lawmakers scurry to change the subject from their own Made in Washington health-care debacle. President Donald Trump launched “Made in America Week” at the White House, displaying such products as door hinges, crab pots, and brooms wholly manufactured stateside. Placing the event in the proper temporal context, The Guardian describe d the 50-state showcase as a “museum of American capitalism.” Meanwhile, the president posed gleefully with fire engines from Wisconsin and wore a Stetson cowboy hat from Texas. Truth is indeed stranger than fake news. Fresh off his sundry attempts to roll back health care,...

House GOP Budget Comes Straight from the Trickle-Down Playbook

The Republicans’ budgetary blueprint paves the path for tax cuts for the wealthy, a military buildup, and spending cuts for entitlement programs. 

(Photo: AP/J. Scott Applewhite) House Ways and Means Committee Chair Kevin Brady, House Budget Committee Chair Diane Black, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Greg Walden participate in a news conference on Capitol Hill on March 10, 2017. trickle-downers_35.jpg F resh off Senate Republicans’ botched attempt to deliver tax cuts to the rich by gutting Obamacare and Medicaid, House Republicans have unveiled their 2018 federal budget —a plan in the best reverse-Robin Hood tradition of the Republican Party. Overall, House Republicans are proposing to balance the budget by 2027 through more than $5 trillion in spending cuts, chiefly to programs that help low- and middle-income Americans, which would allow them to finance a huge military buildup and deliver tax cuts to the wealthy and to corporations. Even with those cuts, their budget requires deliriously rosy economic growth forecasts to come up with numbers showing a budget in balance. “In...

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