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The true path to prosperity

By Robert B. Reich, Tribune Content Agency on

It's often thought that Democrats care about fairness and not economic growth, while Republicans care about growth even at the cost of some fairness.

Rubbish. Growth and fairness aren't opposites. In reality, Democrats have been the party of economic growth and fairness. Republicans are the party of neither.

The only way to grow the economy is by investing in the education, health care and infrastructure that average Americans need in order to be more productive. Growth doesn't "trickle down." It rises up.

Consider the two biggest legislative initiatives over past decade -- the Affordable Care Act, achieved without a single Republican vote, and the current Trump-Republican tax overhaul, speeding ahead without a single Democrat.

The ACA extends coverage to some 21 million mostly lower-income Americans, including millions of children.

It's largely paid for by two tax increases on the rich -- a 3.8 percent increase on their capital gains taxes and other investment-related income, and a 0.9 percent surcharge on their Medicare taxes. Those tax increases are a major reason that Republicans have wanted to repeal it.

 

But the ACA isn't just about fairness. Healthier Americans are also more productive workers. Children who receive health care are better learners. The Affordable Care Act thereby fuels economic growth and widens prosperity.

Republicans say their tax overhaul will promote growth by increasing the profits of American corporations and investors. This is trickle-down nonsense.

Every major study (including those done by Congress's own Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation) finds that its benefits would go mainly to big corporations and the wealthy.

Share prices may rise for a time. They're already at record highs in anticipation of the tax cut. But higher share prices don't trickle down, either. The richest 1 percent owns almost 38 percent of the stock market. Eighty percent of Americans together own just 8 percent of all shares of stock.

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