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Trickle-down economics is a lie

I don’t know who gets to hold President Biden’s cell phone these days, but whoever runs his Twitter account has been hyperactive.

The past few days have seen a blizzard of tweets attacking all the Left’s usual targets from Republicans and business to their old favorite ‘trickle-down economics.’

So, what exactly is this ‘trickle-down economics’ that Joe Biden has been attacking?  According to the Left, ‘trickle-down economics’ is a shorthand explanation of the way that conservatives run things.  It involves massive tax cuts for the rich with a little bit allowed to ‘trickle down’ to everyone else. 

This is a grotesque misrepresentation of what conservatives stand for.  In over 30 years in the policy wonk world, I have not once heard a conservative use the term ‘trickle-down economics’ to describe their strategy. 

The term itself was invented by the Left in the 1930s to misrepresent Cal Coolidge’s economic strategy.  Neither then, nor now, do conservatives believe that the way to make poor people richer is to make rich people even richer. 

Conservatives believe in cutting taxes across the board to the benefit of everyone – which is why in states like Mississippi, conservatives have been so proactive in cutting income taxes for the board mass of working people. 

This has not stopped the Left from repeatedly using the term to mischaracterize what conservatives actually stand for.  It is a form of misinformation, up there alongside various other conspiracy theories.  Indeed, one should regard people who make excitable claims about ‘trickle-down economics’ in much the same way that one might regard people who make excitable claims about QAnon or microchips in the water.   

Ronald Reagan was attacked for ‘trickle-down economics’ in the 1980s, despite doing more than almost any other President to reduce the tax burden on those with the lowest incomes.  That did not stop Bill Clinton, who was able to run a budget surplus thanks to Reagan’s tax cuts the previous decade, from also using the term in the 1990s.   

How should the right respond?  Keep cutting taxes for everyone.   

The Left is always going to use the myth of ‘trickle-down economics’ to attack conservatives.  The past century or so shows that they will relentlessly misrepresent – especially when there’s an election looming.   

But the ‘trickle down’ attack only ever gains traction when we stop cutting taxes (See President Bush the Elder’s one-term career for details).  Keep on cutting. 

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