Getting Geeky: The Trickle Down Con

This election was lost four and five and six years ago not this year. They dident start thinking of the old common fellow till just as they started out on the election tour. The money was all appropriated for the top in the hopes that it would trickle down to the needy. Mr. Hoover was an engineer. He knew that water trickled down. Put it uphill and let it go and it will reach the dryest little spot. But he dident know that money trickled up. Give it to the people at the bottom and the people at the top will have it before night anyhow. But it will at least have passed through the poor fellow’s hands. They saved the big banks but the little ones went up the flue.

— Will Rogers, nationally syndicated column number 518, And Here’s How It All Happened (1932), as published in the Tulsa Daily World, 5 December 1932.

It’s one of the oldest con jobs in American politics: make life easier for the very rich and the benefits will trickle down to the rest of us. Frank Hyman, a life-long southerner living iin Durham, North Carolina persuasively argues that trickle-down economics was used to con poor Southern whites into fighting for the Confederacy in the Civil War. As the quote from the late, great Will Rogers shows, the trickle down con was run against the poor in the events leading up to the Great Depression, too.

There is no conclusive evidence to substantiate any clear relationship between the 65-year steady reduction in the top tax rates and economic growth. Analysis of the data suggests the reduction in the top tax rates has had little or no association with savings, investment, or productivity growth. However, the top tax rate reductions do appear to be associated with the increasing concentration of income at the top of the income distribution.

This is supported by research reports going back to 2012. Take the one from the Congressional Research Service, for example. It concluded, looking at data from 1945 to 2010,

The results of the analysis suggest that changes over the past 65 years in the top marginal tax rate and the top capital gains tax rate do not appear correlated with economic growth. The reduction in the top tax rates appears to be uncorrelated with saving, investment, and productivity growth. The top tax rates appear to have little or no relation to the size of the economic pie.

However, the top tax rate reductions appear to be associated with the increasing concentration of income at the top of the income distribution.

Clearly, Congress has decimated tax rates. They are at the lowest effective rates

Basically, the Congressional Research Service, after a thorough statistical analysis, reached the same conclusion that Will Rogers did back in 1932. You want graphs? WC has graphs.

The average tax rates for the highest income taxes are t near-record lows. If there were, in fact, a trickle down effect, why the economy should be booming. But if you compare those lower tax rates with changes in the national gross domestic product, that economic boom didn’t happen.

That’s mighty flat, folks. Since World War II, there is no association between the tax rate on the rich and economic growth.

What did the GOP do when confronted with a conclusion that contradicted a key part of its agenda? Tried to suppress it, of course.

Will Rogers has been dead longer than ancient WS has been alive. But Will Rogers has it exactly right. The money trickles up, not down. There is no relationship between tax rtes and economic growth. It’s a lie. And the lie is going to get trundled out again to support another tax relief package for the rich.

Remember: money trickles up, not down. Don’t buy it.



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