by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
“I am sick and tired of trickle-down economics,” says President Joe Biden. “It has never worked.”
Of course it has never worked. It has never worked because it has never been tried or even proposed. Trickle-down economics is a myth — a left-wing parody of what conservative politicians are supposed to believe.
The phrase was invented by Democrats in the 1930s as a way to caricature the imagined economic strategy of the Coolidge administration. Even in those days, it was a travesty. Coolidge never argued, and never thought, that the best way to make the poor richer was to make the rich richer. Rather, he believed that cutting taxes across the board would stimulate the whole economy.
And he was right. In 1921, Americans earning over $100,000 paid federal income tax at a rate of 73%. By the time Silent Cal left office in 1929, that rate had been cut to 24%. The result? The tax yield rose from $700 million to more than a billion, and the proportion paid by those earning more than $100,000 actually rose from 30% to 65%. In other words, if you want the rich to pay more, whether in absolute or relative terms, flatten your tax rates.
The fact that “trickle down” is a trick of propaganda did not stop it being trotted out regularly over the next hundred years, and with great success. Lefties love to fulminate against it. I just typed “trickle-down economics” into Google and was prompted with “debunked,” “doesn’t work,” and “Reagan.” What I couldn’t find was anyone actually proposing the idea. Yet the notion keeps going, zombielike, dragging its malodorous, bandaged corpse forward, however often it is shot.
Trickle-down is a conspiracy theory as outlandish, in its own way, as QAnon.