President Reagan introduced and implemented a trickle-down economy policy, asserting that cutting taxes to give funds to the rich would mean those dollars would “trickle down” the economic ladder creating jobs and increasing incomes for working class families. To fund this huge financial boon to the wealthiest among us slashed social and educational subsidies (those of us around then remember “ketchup is a vegetable” – uhm, NOT!), cut funding to HHS by 25 percent, and slashed Medicaid and federal funding for maternal and child health by 18 percent, and he did this all in the middle of the AIDS epidemic while fabricating a racist War on Drugs that targeted primarily black and brown communities. Sound familiar? It should. It’s the playbook for Trump and his supporters.
Want proof that trickle down doesn’t work? A recent study by the London School of Economics found that 50 years of tax cuts for the rich failed to deliver its promises. The recent Trump Administration’s policies to replicate the “successes” of the Reagan Administration (read, the stock market explodes and the wealthy become wealthier), has had the expected results for those of us not in the 1%: more workers experienced pay cuts than in the last recession, wages continued to stay stagnant, and the rate of automation accelerated. All of these factors are reversing hard-fought progress for women of color, LGBTQ+ community, and Native Americans. As our families and communities gradually transition out of the pandemic, we need to make sure everyone can afford to meet their basic needs — food, housing, healthcare. Establishing a $15/hr minimum is a good first step and needs to happen, but it’s not enough. Due primarily to skyrocketing housing costs, the cost of living in many urban areas means $15/hr is not a living wage. Fairfax County, for example, the cost of living is 150% higher than in the rest of Virginia. That means, we must:
- Guarantee a living wage relevant to cost of living.
- Ensure the extremely wealthy (>$500M net worth) pay their fair share of taxes
- Pass legislation that guarantees everyone the right to housing, healthcare, and food access
- Enact stronger legislation to support workers’ rights by passing the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, enable collective bargaining through digital unionization, and establish a federal Paid Family Medical Leave Act
- Look into how Universal Basic Income can be implemented to help those most vulnerable in America such as the islands of disadvantage in Northern Virginia