Column Date 2005-12-14

Down with "Trickle-Down"

We’ve all heard about the “Trickle-Down” theory by now.

That’s the theory, currently in vogue, where the government gives enormous tax breaks to the 3% of Americans who are multi-millionaires.

Now these super-wealthy folks already have almost anything you can dream of buying. So the money probably goes right into stocks, bonds and real estate. (Unless, of course, they have a burning desire for things like His-‘N-Hers Hummers, or thousand-dollar umbrella stands, or 12-foot-wide plasma TVs.)

But somehow, the theory goes, a little bit of this money will eventually ‘trickle-down’ to the rest of us.

In other words, when a wealthy person decides his necks aches from watching tennis on his 12-foot-wide plasma TV, he might call my friend Wendy for a deep-tissue massage.

I call this the “really, really, really slow growth” scenario.

“Trickle-Down” might work someday far in the future, but, clearly, any money coming down to us now is more like a slow drip than a trickle.

Here’s a better idea: it’s called “Trickle-Up.”

The “Trickle-Up” plan is simplicity itself: the US government sends each household in America a check for $10,000.

That’s it.

No bureaucracy, no accountants, no complicated forms to fill out. You just open your mailbox one morning, and there’s your check for $10,000.

Now, you may say our country can’t afford this.

Well, we can afford it if we don’t renew those humungous tax breaks for the wealthy (tax breaks that will cost us almost $800 billion over the next ten years). And if we don’t spend $100 billion on an anti-missile defense system that doesn’t have much chance of actually working.

And if we cut out a few stealth bombers (at $1 billion each), we’ll have more than enough money for the “Trickle Up” plan to boost our struggling economy.

Imagine how “Trickle-Up” would work:

Being an ordinary family (with $10,000 burning a hole in your pocket) you rush right out to buy, say, a brand new car.

Or you put a down payment on a new house. Or you pay for braces for your teenager. Or maybe you just blow the whole ten grand on a fabulous vacation...or new fishing gear...or a fancy RV...or a semester of college....whatever. Having fun, so far?

Now comes the good part: all this money goes directly into the economy. Instantly. No waiting.

Your $10,000 not only gets our factories working again, it helps create thousands of new jobs. One of them might be for you.

And here’s the icing on the cake: some of this money will actually ‘trickle-up’ to the rich people!

That’s right -- they own the companies that make all those things we’re going to buy. And since most big corporations in America pay no tax at all these days, this money will be virtually tax free!

It’s what they call a ‘win-win’ scenario in Washington.

If President Bush wants to get this economy going and create more jobs before the election, he ought to get those checks in the mail tomorrow.

©2004 Peter Tannen