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

Think the GOP Tax Cut Was for the Rich? Actually, It Was for the White and Rich.

At nearly every point on the economic spectrum, a new report documents, it helped whites more than people of color.

(Photo by Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/Sipa via AP Images)
(Photo by Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/Sipa via AP Images) Republicans wave to President Trump at an event to celebrate the passage of the 2017 Republican Tax Act on the South Lawn of the White Hosue on December 20, 2017. trickle-downers.jpg T he $1.5 trillion tax cut signed into law last December by President Trump is not only widening the economic gap between the rich and everyone else, but also between white Americans and people of color. That’s according to a new, first-of-its-kind analysis of the 2017 Republican Tax Act by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) and Prosperity Now, a nonprofit advocacy group for low-income households. Using an economic model created by ITEP, the report drills down on the racial implications of the Republicans’ handiwork. The report’s authors found that racial inequities are a feature of the tax law, not a bug—Trump’s tax cuts champion Americans with existing wealth over those struggling to create new wealth. Of the $275 billion in...

D.C. Council Repeals Wage Bump for Tipped Workers, Will of Voters Be Damned

Washingtonians voted for an initiative raising wages. Their elected representatives just nullified that vote.

(Shutterstock)
(Shutterstock) trickle-downers.jpg W ashington, D.C., lawmakers voted 8 to 5 on Tuesday to repeal a voter-passed ballot measure known as Initiative 77—the will of their constituents be damned. Initiative 77, which received 55 percent of the vote in the June primary election, would have gradually raised the minimum wage for tipped workers in the District, starting with a modest increase on October 9, eventually reaching parity with the city’s minimum wage in 2026. Currently, employers are allowed to pay tipped workers less than the District’s $13.25 minimum wage, so long as their tips make up the difference. The council’s vote snuffed out, at least temporarily, what had become a major flashpoint in local politics, one that pitted restaurant owners, restaurant lobbying groups, and high-earning servers and bartenders against worker-advocacy organizations and lower-earning tipped workers. In a 16-hour public hearing in September, opponents of Initiative 77 warned that the measure would...

Trickle-Down in Steel

AP Photo/Jeff Roberson A steelworker speaks on a radio at the U.S. Steel Granite City Works facility in Granite City, Illinois. trickle-downers_35.jpg F or the American steel industry, these are boom times. President Trump’s tariffs on steel imports have been a boon to domestic manufacturers, who are enjoying profits unlike any they’ve seen in years. And as for the steelworkers? Well, not so much. The profit surge has come just as the multi-year contracts that the United Steelworkers has with the two mega-makers of American steel—Arcelor Mittal and U.S. Steel—have expired. The companies have presented their 31,000 unionized employees with proposed new contracts that appear designed to demonstrate just how farcical trickle-down economics actually is. At first glance, the pay increases appear generous. But the companies are also asking their workers to start paying for health benefits that cost an arm and a leg. According to a report in today’s Los Angeles Times , the net effect “would...

Pressuring Bosses Is Good. Policy Change Is Better.

Amazon raised its minimum wage to $15 an hour, but shouldn’t get a pat on the back just for doing what the government should have done long ago.

AP Photo/David Zalubowski A worker moves an item from a cart to the line for boxing at the Amazon fulfillment center in Aurora, Colorado. trickle-downers_54.jpg A fter years of bad press about Amazon’s treatment of its workers, the company announced Tuesday that it is raising its employees’ wages to $15 an hour, effective next month. The new wage will cover all employees, including temporary and seasonal workers. It’s clear that the company succumbed to public pressure from worker movements as well as criticism from progressive politicians, particularly Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. The announcement comes amid growing agitation for higher wages and better working conditions. This week, the Fight for $15 is coordinating protests and strikes among fast food workers seeking better pay and union representation. Just last week, airport workers at the three New York-area airports won a $19 minimum wage—which will be the highest targeted minimum wage in the country—after years of union...

Trump’s America: Poor Immigrants Need Not Apply

A proposed Department of Homeland Security rule would make it more difficult for indigent people to obtain green cards.

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File Eighteen-year-old Dunia Bueso, center, and her relative, Augustin Vargas, left, look at Bueso's one-year-old son, Joshua Tinoco, foreground, sitting on the lap of Martina Perez, at their home in Los Angeles. Of the three, only Bueso has been issued a green card. trickle-downers_54.jpg T he Trump administration is weaponizing food stamps, family financial assistance, and other public benefits to make good on its promise to drive poor immigrants out of the country. On September 22, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a preliminary version of a draft regulation that would give the federal government broader authority to deny green-cards to people who could become “public charges,” that is, dependent on welfare programs. DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement that the change aims to promote “immigrant self-sufficiency and protect finite resources by ensuring that they are not likely to become burdens on American taxpayers.” But a...

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