“Supply-side economics” has been the economic policy of the Republican Party for the last forty years. Known pejoratively (and more accurately) as “trickle-down economics,” supply-siders subscribe to “the economic proposition that taxes on businesses and the wealthy [the “job creators”] in society should be reduced as a means to stimulate business investment in the short term and benefit society at large in the long term.” 
Of course, as a guiding principle for enactment of policy, trickle-down economics can be a tough sell. The trickle-down pill needs a sugar coating to make it palatable to the voting public. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, eastern Washington’s representative to the U.S. House (Congressional District 5), applied the sugar coating to one of the biggest Republican trickle-down triumphs in the last forty years, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. Tax Cuts and Jobs mostly benefitted corporations and wealthy taxpayers, but every time McMorris Rodgers spoke of the bill in public, you were guaranteed to hear that she was proud of her vote for this bill that would put “money in your pocket.” That sugar coating was meant to direct the average taxpayer’s attention to the small tax break for the average guy contained in the bill in the hope that voters would ignore the huge tax breaks the bill contained for corporations and the already wealthy–and the huge expansion of the national debt. If she thought at all beyond the “money in your pocket” slogan she never let on. But as a good Republican she probably justified “money in your pocket” as a necessary subterfuge to put in motion the magic of trickle-down economic expansion. Indeed, the broad economy expanded and the stock market roared in response to the extra money at the top. Before the pandemic the average family might be pardoned if they felt their prospects brightened as their tiny boat rose with the tide as “all boats were lifted.”
But the pandemic–and McMorris Rodgers voting record in response to the pandemic–lay bare the fallacy of trickle-down economics. A yawning chasm has opened in the American economy between the wealthiest of the wealthy (think Amazon and Jeff Bezos) and the folks trying to pay their rent, take care if their children and put food on the table. Yes, the stock market is roaring again–and the bank accounts of the wealthy have not shrunk–but the 45% of Americans who own no stocks whatsoever (and many of the 55% who do have a small stake in the market) see their boats taking on water–even as the wealthy float high–and invest in ever-larger boats.
So where is McMorris Rodgers’ allegiance? Is she still convinced that the way to help her constituents pay their bills and put food on the table is to pour money in at the top so it trickles down? In March, along with 419 of her 433 House colleagues she voted “Aye” on the CARES Act. It wasn’t a controversial vote–nor should it have been. Most citizens remember CARES for the $1,200 tax rebate it provided. Some others remember CARES for its extension of unemployment benefits. But, in fact, three quarters of the roughly two trillion dollars in CARES went out to a complex mix of large corporations, small businesses, and local and state governments. All of that money was doled out via fragmented and complex application and grant procedures of which most hourly and even salaried wage earners were oblivious. 
Two months later, in May 2020 McMorris Rodgers must have gotten over the idea that “money in your pocket” for the average person was in the country’s best interests, the slogan she’d pushed with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Instead, that May she quietly voted “Nay” on a second stimulus bill in the U.S. House of Representatives, the HEROES Act. The pandemic economic downturn continued in spite of Trump’s rosy predictions. People were hurting, evictions were on the rise. HEROES offered another $1200 payment to individuals, extended unemployment benefits, offered help with utilities payments, and expanded SNAP benefits . The bill targeted much more of its aid to struggling workers and working families than did the CARES Act. (See Stipulations.) HEROES passed the Democratically-controlled House but it was blocked from a vote (like so much other legislation) by Republican majority leader Mitch McConnell in the Senate. HEROES was blocked because it was anathema to Republican trickle-down dogma. Deficit spending was fine as long as the deficit was expanded by cutting taxes on the wealthy (as in Tax Cuts and Jobs), but not fine if it merely shored up the average American struggling in the pandemic economy.
McMorris Rodgers was faced with one more test of trickle-down devotion, a test she surely had hoped to dodge. In December 2020 the latest round of coronavirus relief, in the amount of 900 billion dollars, was wrapped up in H.R.133 – the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, the last minute 2.2 trillion dollar bill to fund the government. McMorris Rodgers voted “yea” on December 21. She could hardly vote otherwise. To vote against this massive piece of last minute legislation might have shut down the government (and certainly would have kept legislators in Washington, D.C. even longer.) She must have breathed a sigh of relief when H.R. 133 was sent to President Trump for his signature. Despite strong voices for a greater amount, Republicans had managed to limit direct payments to Americans to only $600, rather than the $1200 others had proposed. (These $600 payments only represent 7% of the spending authorized in the H.R.133. However, the $600 number got a lot of press because it was a number to which the average voter could relate. It was, after all, the one direct “money in your pocket” piece of the whole Act.)
But then Donald Trump threw the whole tidy political triumph in disarray. After taking a mostly hands-off approach to H.R. 133 negotiations, he lashed out at Congress by demanding the $600 payment be expanded to $2000–while threatening to veto (or pocket veto) the bill if he didn’t get his way. In response, the Caring for Americans with Supplemental Help Act (CASH Act), was immediately presented in the House of Representatives to increase the payment to $2000. How would McMorris Rodgers vote? Only one time in the last four years had she voted against the will of Donald Trump (on a bill that would have weakened the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) a law of intense personal interest to her as a mother of a child with Down Syndrome). But now: Drama! Consternation! An up and down vote on the choice between trickle-down dogma and offering $2000 of direct help to struggling citizens. The choice was made worse by her lame duck leader, a man for whom a majority of her constituents had voted in November. How she must have wished to dodge this vote…
Her allegiance was clear. She voted against the CASH Act, explaining her “Nay” vote by writing “Unfortunately, the CASH Act would add $464 billion to our national debt. I believe assistance should be more targeted.” She had just voted for a 900 billion dollar coronavirus stimulus as part of H.R. 133, only $166 billion would go to direct checks. She had enthusiastically voted in 2017 to fuel the deficit by cutting taxes, but now, suddenly, oh, my, the national debt! We cannot raise the national debt by actually helping people at the bottom directly! Too much!
These votes of McMorris Rodgers need to be remembered. In this “Nay” vote on the CASH Act, McMorris Rodgers has once again declared her devotion to trickle-down economics–the bogus Reaganite economic idea that everyone benefits by cutting the taxes of the wealthy. While Spokane families can’t come up with the money to pay their utility bills, McMorris Rodgers wants to “target” money elsewhere.
Keep to the high ground,
 Supply-side, aka trickle-down, economics follows directly on economic principles current in the Gilded Age (approx.1870-1900), a time of glaring income and wealth inequality not unlike our own. Those principles were derided at the time as “horse and sparrow economics,” the idea that oats fed into the horse (the wealthy, “job-creator” class) would offer undigested grain in their manure for the sparrows (the working class) who would pick over. The income and wealth disparity of the Gilded Age fueled the labor movement of the early 20th century.
 Note that Republicans had no difficulty with the broad tax cuts for corporations and upper income taxpayers in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. Republican rhetoric revolves around “not picking winners and losers” and “the magic of the free market,” but when it comes right down to it offering money to struggling Americans with no strings attached isn’t palatable to them. After all, those lazy common people given $1200 or $2000 won’t use it to pay their bills or stay economically afloat, would they? Giving those folks “money in the their pocket” in times like these will just be a disincentive for these lazy people to get back to work, won’t it?
 SNAP is the “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program”–the U.S. Department of Agriculture program once characterized as “Welfare” or “Food Stamps”–a program on which, in 2018, 40 million low income Americans depended). (Read “Let’s Talk About Food Stamps” for some perspective on this assistance.)