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

What Republicans Have Learned from Their Tax Cut Debacles: Nothing

Despite the failures of trickle-down economics in Kansas and Oklahoma, Nebraska seems poised to give it a go.

AP Photo/Nati Harnik
AP Photo/Nati Harnik Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts delivers his annual State of the State address to lawmakers in Lincoln trickle-downers_35.jpg L ess than two weeks into the new legislative session, Nebraska lawmakers already look to be moving full speed ahead on enacting corporate and top-rate tax cuts—even amid an ongoing budget shortfall that has resulted in severe spending cuts to state services. During his State of the State address on Wednesday, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts introduced the preliminary framework for a tax plan that would see the state’s top corporate and income tax rate cut twice over the next two years. The address marked what will be a second attempt by the governor at passing a tax reform bill after a plan he sponsored fell six votes short of passing the state’s Republican majority unicameral legislature last year, thanks to opposition from Democrats and some moderate Republicans. This bipartisan group of dissenters felt the bill didn’t do enough for...

Dynamically Scorned

Steve Mnuchin’s “fake math” analysis admits that the tax cuts will not pay for themselves. Will it matter? 

(Photo: AP/Alex Brandon) Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is seated during a ceremony to swear in Joseph M. Otting as Comptroller of the Currency, at the Treasury Department, Monday, Nov. 27, 2017 in Washington. T reasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has claimed from Day One that the Trump tax cuts will pay for themselves with a healthy dose of economic growth. “Not only will this tax plan pay for itself, but it will pay down debt,” he said in September. For almost as long, he has promised that his tax analysts would produce a detailed analysis that backed up that claim. Mnuchin said he had more than 100 analysts working on the report, which would be released before Congress voted. But as the tax bill was unveiled, details were hashed out in the House and Senate, and votes took place, tax wonks questioned whether the report would ever come out. As it turns out, The New York Times found out that nobody in the Treasury’s Office of Tax Policy—which is in charge of economic forecasting—was...

Booze, Women, and Movies: Chuck Grassley Couldn’t Be More Wrong about Taxpayers

Grassley’s characterizations of ordinary Americans are not only callous, but also patently false.

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill trickle-downers_35.jpg I f the Senate Republican tax bill could talk, it would probably sound a lot like Chuck Grassley. During a week already rife with Republican skullduggery, the Iowa Senator did his best Scrooge impression while defending the recently passed legislation’s weakening of the estate tax: “I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing,” Grassley told reporters last week . “As opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies.” The senator’s words were callous, elitist, and, worse still, completely inaccurate. In 2015, consumers with pre-tax incomes between $15,000 and $30,000 spent nearly eight-and-a-half times less on alcohol than consumers who made $200,000 or more, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics survey . Consumers that made between $50,000 and $70,000...

Republicans Have Exposed Themselves

Ron Sachs/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images
Ron Sachs/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images The Speaker of the United States House Paul Ryan speaks at the Capitol as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell looks on at right trickle-downers.jpg T he Republicans’ disdain for America has been laid bare by their tax plan. Progressives must take advantage of this moment. As you surely know, the versions of the bill passed by the House and Senate are beyond terrible, and they just gets worse with each cover-of-night iteration. Simply put, they accomplish four goals, which I outline below. The evidence behind these assertions is overwhelming and has been made repeatedly, so rather than repeat it, I’ll provide links to the facts. But if facts were actually in play, we wouldn’t still be arguing about the offsetting growth effects of trickle-down economics, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wouldn’t be blithely asserting that the growth effects will more than pay for the revenues lost by this plan...

Simplifying the Tax Code, or Simply Trickle-Down Economics?

The Senate’s tax bill drives up the deficit, which could enable the same tax-cutting Republicans to inflict drastic cuts to the social safety net.

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)
(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images) From left, Republican Senators John Thune, Johnny Isakson, Charles Grassley, Mitch McConnell, Orrin Hatch, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn at a meeting in the Capitol on November 9, 2017 trickle-downers.jpg S enate Republicans may try to quickly move their tax proposal to a vote this week, attempting to score the GOP’s first legislative victory before the opposition can thoroughly mobilize. It’s a nightmare bill, and most Americans don’t support the tax reform proposal (though of course, wealthy Republican donors do). This isn’t surprising, since the tax plan is a tax cut for the rich, and stands to hurt the poor by threatening their health care as well as essential social programs. Back when Trump revealed the original GOP plan, he said he wanted to “make the tax code simple, fair, and easy to understand.” To simplify the tax code, Republicans have trumped up their ( not quite ) doubled...

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