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

Paul Ryan: Trickle Downer of the Week

The House Speaker’s ACA “replacement” is not a health care plan; it’s a Reverse-Robin-Hood scheme that takes from the poor and gives to the rich.  

(AP/J. Scott Applewhite) Paul Ryan uses his trusty charts and graphs to make his case for the GOP's long-awaited plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. trickle-downers.jpg I f it wasn’t clear before, it is now: there is perhaps nothing that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan wouldn’t do to secure massive tax cuts for the rich. That includes repealing a health care law that’s secured coverage for tens of millions of previously uninsured Americans. Last week, Ryan unveiled his long-awaited replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act—the plainly named American Health Care Act. But it’s a bit of a stretch to describe it as health-care legislation. As has been widely reported now, the CBO estimates that the AHCA will cause 24 million people to lose coverage over the next decade—14 million of them in the next year alone. In reality, the AHCA is an upward redistribution scheme that takes from the poor and gives to the rich. Repealing Obamacare will generate some $883 billion in tax...

No, We Don’t Need Higher Interest Rates

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen testifies before the Senate Banking Committee. An earlier version of this article appeared at The Huffington Post . Subscribe here . T he press is fairly slavering for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates. You can hardly read an item in the business pages without some commentator declaring that, at last, the unemployment rate is low enough and the growth rate high enough that the Fed can tighten money… and choke off further progress. Hosannas! But the commentators have to strain to tell us how good things are. Yes, wages are up this year and unemployment is down, but as EPI’s comprehensive report makes clear, these gains have only begun to reverse several decades of rising inequality. Why does the financial community want higher interest rates? So that banks and other creditors can make more money, of course. And to head off inflation that for the moment is mostly imaginary. And to keep down worker pressure for higher...

Emboldened by Trump, Minimum-Wage-Hike Opponents Fight Back

In a direct repudiation of voters, the business lobby and state Republicans (and some Democrats) are trying to undermine minimum wage increases. 

(AP/Rick Scuteri) Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey presents his 2016 State of the State address, in Phoenix, Ariz. Ducey led the charge calling on cities and towns to "put the brakes" on plans to raise the minimum wage or mandate other employment regulations such paid sick leave. O ne of the few bright spots for liberals on Election Day was that voters in four states —Arizona, Colorado, Maine, and Washington—approved ballot measures to raise their minimum wages. The ballot wins proved, once again, that, when put directly before voters, progressive economic policies like increasing the minimum wage are wildly popular—even in red states. The business lobby, however, isn’t letting the will of the people get in its way. Chambers of commerce, restaurant organizations, and other opponents of a livable wage have launched lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the Arizona and Washington ballot measures and have embarked on heavy-handed lobbying campaigns in Maine to convince friendly...

The Republicans’ $370 Billion Cut to Medicaid

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite House Speaker Paul Ryan meets with reporters on Capitol Hill. trickle-downers.jpg A ccording to Republicans in the House of Representatives, block grants “give states the freedom to tailor their individual programs to address the diverse needs of communities.” According to the historical record, block grants are thinly disguised budget cuts . In their newly released plan to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, Republicans are proposing to convert Medicaid—the program that provides health coverage to almost 100 million low-income Americans each year—from a program that expands with need and thus provides a reliable safety net, to a type of block-grant program called a per capita cap . This funding mechanism provides states a fixed amount of federal Medicaid dollars per recipient with loose restrictions on how the money can be used. But the level of funding provided to the states declines dramatically. According to a new estimate , the House...

How the Democrats Can Hijack the Tax Reform Debate

Just in case they want an economic policy, here’s one they can win on.

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite Senate Finance Committee member Senator Sherrod Brown questions Treasury Secretary-designate Steven Mnuchin, on Capitol Hill. trickle-downers.jpg W hat with the president’s war on immigrants, his travel ban, his Putinphilia, his threats to Obamacare, and his cabinet picks, congressional Democrats have spent most of the last month busily saying “No,” with the occasional “Maybe” thrown in by some red-state senators. What congressional Democrats haven’t done is propose some serious alternatives to the economic policies that Trump and congressional Republicans are poised to inflict on the (partly wary, partly unsuspecting) nation. And that’s a mistake. Not right now, perhaps. To some degree, the Democrats’ strategy has to be guided by the same criteria as an ER physician: the most urgent cases first. As well, as my colleague Paul Waldman argued on Monday , the 2018 elections, like all midterms, will largely be about mobilizing one’s base, and nothing stirs the...

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