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

A Tough Week for the Social Safety Net

States from Tennessee to Wisconsin are mirroring the Trump administration’s enthusiasm for eviscerating anti-poverty programs.

(AP Photo/Scott Bauer)
The past few days have been difficult, on both the state and federal level, for the country’s already frayed social safety net. Several states, taking their cues from the Trump administration, have restricted and made cuts to anti-poverty programs, and this week, too, the federal government has joined in the shredding of welfare assistance. The week began with the tiniest of hopes, as the Republican-dominated Tennessee State Legislature voted Monday to raise cash assistance levels for the first time in 22 years. But the abysmal increase brings total benefits for a family of three to just 16 percent of the poverty line, and that same state legislature is moving forward with Medicaid work requirements that could strip health care from thousands of adults with children. In Wisconsin on Tuesday, Republican Governor Scott Walker signed into law nine bills that limit welfare assistance in new ways, with policies that may inspire other states to introduce similarly punitive measures...

Waiting -- and Waiting-- For Corporate Tax Cuts to Deliver Those Wage Hikes

Though if you’re a CEO or shareholder, the new tax cuts are the gift that keeps on giving.

(Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones/Sipa USA via AP Images)
trickle-downers.jpg Working- and middle-class Americans standing by for those corporate-tax-cut-fueled wage increases to appear now understand how Vladimir and Estragon felt in Waiting for Godot . It’s been nearly four months since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act became law, and the good times continue to roll for shareholders and company executives. Corporate profitability is well on its way to hitting decade-long highs, and CEO pay, coming off of a record year in 2017, will be the cause of much champagne-popping. But if the new tax bill, which showered corporate America with an estimated $68 billion in savings, has been a party for Wall Street, folks on Main Street—the supposed primary beneficiaries of the tax-cutting bonanza, as Republicans told it—have yet to receive their invitations. A new online database launched by Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF), a broad coalition of more than 400 groups championing progressive tax reform, tracks how corporations have responded...

Striking a Match

The walkout wildfire is spreading from West Virginia to Kentucky to Oklahoma to Arizona, as teachers demand investment in education—not more tax breaks for the rich.

(Nate Billings/The Oklahoman via AP)
trickle-downers.jpg What started in West Virginia has spread . This week, partly inspired by the teacher walkouts across every county in West Virginia, teachers in both Kentucky and Oklahoma have left the classroom to protest (the issues vary state to state) low pay, abysmally low school funding, and inadequate benefits—but fundamentally, the attacks on public education. As was much the case in West Virginia, the blame for these states’ defunding of public services like education can be placed on a history of tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy. West Virginia saw a wave of tax cuts passed in 2006, which only grew over the next decade. Soon, the cuts were reducing West Virginia’s revenue each year by $425 million . Corey Robin, author of The Reactionary Mind , recently wrote that “teachers are starting a movement not only to raise their salaries and improve the schools, not only to reverse the assault on public education … but to confront the real...

What the Teacher Strikes Mean

(AP Photo/Adam Beam)
trickle-downers_35.jpg Around seven years ago, I had a standard wisecrack to explain the standing of workers in the world’s two dominant economies: “China has strikes but no unions; America has unions but no strikes.” Seven years later, it’s clear we’re becoming more like China every day. The remarkable upsurge of teachers in Republic-run, largely non-union states that has swept through West Virginia and is now sweeping through Oklahoma and Kentucky, and is poised to descend on Arizona, has returned the mass strike to the United States after decades of relegation to the history books. In each of these states, the teachers unions have something between limited and no legal rights to bargain collectively, and, correspondingly, represent just a hard core of members whose commitment to their union is more a matter of belief than of anticipated reward. And yet, able to mobilize even in non-union terrains through the use of social media, and outraged at their...

Under Trump, a New Golden Age for Payday Lending

A deregulatory push led by top-level Republicans could turn back the clock to the heyday of predatory lending.

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Payday lenders—those usurious operations that profit from providing high-interest loans to working-class and poor Americans—have seen their prospects improve dramatically under the Trump administration and the Republican Congress. A joint resolution introduced last week by South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham would eliminate strict regulations on short-term, small-dollar lenders imposed by the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and prevent the agency from issuing a similar rule in the future. The resolution marks the latest attempt to defang the CFPB, which became the bête noire of the payday loan industry in the years following the financial crash. The rule, which among other things would obligate lenders to confirm that people can actually afford to repay their loans, was set to go into effect in January but was put on hold by the interim head of the CFPB, Trump appointee Mick Mulvaney. While the CFPB “reconsiders” the law,...

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