Trickle down has not been debunked, not in the minds of the masses. How else can you explain the lack of revolt? We should see mobs with pitchforks and torches chasing Republicans, who keep giving away tax cuts and goodies to the "job creators" while cutting funding for things the middle and lower class need like public education, safety services, food stamps, veteran benefits and unemployment insurance.
Is it just because of voter apathy that the GOP keeps getting away with it? No, unfortunately despite the efforts of many people smarter than me, some of our heroes like Robert Reich, Elizabeth Warren, Paul Krugman, Bernie Sanders and even Barack Obama, there's a huge chunk of the population that still buys into the idea of trickle down economics. Even worse, the corporate media beltway talking heads still sell it to us, and our less visionary Dems cower at the mention of it. If you cut taxes and regulations on ye old "job creators", well, by golly they'll create more jobs!
That's a nice fairy tail. The aforementioned heroes do a pretty good job of trying to fight this myth. Reich's documentary Inequality for All was the economic equivalent of Al Gore'sAn Inconvenient Truth: A thorough, line item by line item debunking of the economics of the 1%. But it hasn't made a dent in the national consciousness that still is being fed trickle down, just with different job creatory phrases.
Oh by the way, to whom am I crediting the phrase "rising tide"? Yup, another Democratic and Progressive hero, none other than President John F. Kennedy used this phrase a number of times. Rising Tide Economics? Well, apparently President Obama's National Economic Council Director, Hillary Clinton's 2008 campaign's chief economics director and former Clinton Administration economic advisor Gene Sperling beat me to the punch with this article in 2007! Yes, 2007, before Occupy, before the housing bubble burst.
Before you go off on me about Sperling, I am not one of his acolytes here to troll a 7 year old article. I'm just here to talk about messaging. And frankly, Sperling gets it pretty close to right on policy. We have to strengthen the social compact as well as encourage growth. That creates the rising tide.
But the real strength in Sperling's theory is not just the details, it's the very visual and soundbyte friendly name "rising tide". It's the tonic we need to apply every time trickle down economics rear their ugly head.
When Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker starts cutting services and cutting taxes for the rich, we need to rain down on trickle down and talk about rising tide.
When the House Republicans slash food stamps, Senate Democrats need to fight back not by saying "Oh, please let us cut them a little less", they need to deny the legitimacy of the economics behind those cuts by saying no way, Jose. That's just more trickle down. We need to raise all boats, and we do that by strengthening the finances and futures of the broadest segments of the population. Rising Tide. Because a Rising Tide does lift all boats, even the boats of the 1%.
Rising tide is something everyone can understand. Even your Uncle Joe who watches Fox news and listens to Rush. The population is in a broad ocean, and we're all trying to stay afloat. Trickle down is the rich flying over the ocean in their private jets and pouring water down on us, filling the boats and sinking us in inequality. At best, the 1% just callously look down as the holes in the boats slowly swamp and sink us. Because of course, as Rep. Paul Ryan would say, there are generations of men just too lazy to row those boats and keep bailing them out as the just keep leaking and leaking. You know, the culture of worky thingy.
Rising tide instead patches the holes in the boats of the finances of the many, making the lower and middle classes stronger. Heck, a few might be able to upgrade from those leaky row boats and canoes to one with a motor, maybe someday even a nice sailboat off into retirement. And a lucky few might eventually be able to get a nice yacht.
Now, with a nice visual in their heads, your conservative friends and family might be receptive to something like Inequality for All. One of my favourite illustrations from that documentary was about pillows. How many pillows does a rich person need to buy? Not that many. So trickle down will not help the pillow manufacturer very much at all. But rising tide? Yup, you know it's true, rising tide puts more money in the pocket of the broadest segment of the population possible and lowers the insecurity. Guess what? Now the pillow factory has tons of new customers. Pillow factory hires new workers. Unemployment goes down. Wages go up. Factory owner does well, gets a yacht. Factory workers don't go bankrupt and get to send their kids to college.
So the next time you are arguing against what amounts to trickle down economics, don't just call it that. Fight back against it with a simple to explain economic philosophy that is just plain common sense. And watch the lights go on in the minds of those who have been in the dark with trickle down for more than 3 decades. Set the spark. Start the fire. Get your pitchforks nice and sharp.