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

Gary Cohn’s Glass-Steagall Support Is a Trickle-Down Trojan Horse

Trump’s top economic adviser—our Trickle Downer of the Week—is veiling his support for more deregulation behind the rhetoric of financial reform. 

(Associated Press) Gary Cohn, director of the U.S. National Economic Council, arrives to a swearing in ceremony of White House senior staff in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. L ast week, reports surfaced that Gary Cohn—the White House’s top economic adviser, former president and chief operating officer of Goldman Sachs, and purported foil to Steve Bannon’s “economic” nationalism—said in a closed-door meeting with the Senate Banking Committee that he supports legislation that would cordon off Wall Street’s speculative investment from commercial banking operations. That is, he supports some form of reinstatement of Glass-Steagall, the landmark Depression-era financial regulation law that forbade commercial banks from engaging in risky speculative investments. Congress passed and Bill Clinton signed the repeal in 1999, a move that helped lay the groundwork for the Wall Street-fueled economic meltdown in 2008. Naturally, you might question whether Trump’s Wall Street...

Flying the Bloody Skies

Patrick Gorski/NurPhoto/Sipa via AP Images
Patrick Gorski/NurPhoto/Sipa via AP Images The United Airlines terminal on display at O'hare International Airport in Chicago. W hile the videos of security cops dragging a bloodied physician down the aisle of a United Airlines plane clearly shocked the millions of people who viewed them, my guess is that, at some level, it didn’t surprise them. Indeed, the reason the videos were so damaging to United—and at some level, to the entire airline industry—is that everyone who’s flown in coach during the past several decades knows that the welfare of airline passengers, save for those who fly first- or business-class, is the least of the airlines’ concerns. The systemic abuse of those who fly coach has become the sine qua non of the airlines’ business model, as the incessant shrinkage of the seats and legroom afforded passengers clearly attests. “The roomiest economy seats you can book on the nation’s four largest airlines,” according to Consumer Reports ’ Bill McGee, “are narrower than the...

Mark Meadows Wants the AHCA to Take Even More from the Poor

The House Freedom Caucus leader—our Trickle Downer of the Week—wants to allow states to undo preexisting condition protections and thin out health-care coverage, exacerbating the deep policy inequities of the AHCA. 

(CQ Roll Call via AP Images) Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, walks through Statuary Hall in the Capitol on Wednesday, March 22, 2017. B ut seriously—there is nothing Republicans won’t do to secure tax cuts for the rich. It was only two weeks ago that the GOP’s effort to repeal and replace Obamacare (after seven years of presumable preparation) ended in complete failure, leaving Speaker Paul Ryan to meekly state, “Doing big things is hard.” Trump and congressional Republicans seemed content to leave the American Health Care Act’s wreckage in their rearview mirror as they headed for greener, seemingly less divisive, pastures: tax reform. That now seems to have been a head fake. Last week, party leaders revealed that the Obamacare repeal is back on the table and negotiations are again under way—an indication that Ryan knows the only way to make his steep tax cuts revenue-neutral is to first repeal Obamacare , and that he is ready to accede to even more...

By Blocking Medicaid, Brownback Shows There is No Limit to His Trickle-Down Folly

The Kansas governor—our Trickle Downer of the Week—vetoed Medicaid expansion legislation, capping his tenure with one more outburst of cruelty.

(Thad Allton/Topeka Capital-Journal via AP) Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, right, along with Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer participates in a humanitarian award ceremony Thursday, March 9, 2017, at the statehouse in Topeka, Kansas. K ansas Governor Sam Brownback can’t seem to take a hint. After six years of his using his state as a petri dish for trickle-down economic experiments—with deep tax cuts begetting even deeper budget cuts—he has sparked a political mutiny. trickle-downers_29.jpg In November, fed-up Kansans voted in a slew of moderate Republicans and Democrats to the legislature to serve as a check against the governor. The Dems and the mods have since formed a governing coalition that is rebelling against Brownback’s radical political agenda. On Tuesday, state senators passed legislation approving an expansion of the state’s Medicaid program through the ACA that would cover 150,000 previously ineligible low-income Kansans. But, on Thursday, Brownback vetoed the expansion, claiming it...

Trump Eviscerates Federal Contracting Rules

The president just repealed an Obama executive order to prevent bad employers from getting federal contracts. Next up? The rest of Obama’s labor rules.

(AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty) Workers watch a christening ceremony at Bath Iron Works from the bow of the future USS Michael Monsoor in Bath, Maine. R epublicans may not be adept at health-care legislation, but they are proving themselves immensely skilled at dismantling labor protections. Using the Congressional Review Act, an obscure legislative tactic that allows Congress to repeal recently enacted regulations with a simple majority and could forbid future administrations from promulgating similar rules, Republicans are rapidly unraveling a series of President Obama’s pro-worker rules that enraged powerful business associations like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. President Donald Trump is more than willing to facilitate the destruction of his predecessor’s legacy of worker protections. On Monday, behind closed doors and without his typical fanfare, Trump signed Congress’s repeal of Obama’s Fair Pay, Safe Workplaces executive order that would have mandated that companies with...

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