Hillary Clinton has long railed against the economic approach Democrats love to call “trickle-down”: conservative attempts to stoke economic growth by cutting taxes for corporations and the rich. Early in the debate Monday, she tried to zing her Republican opponent with a modified version of that critique, which she called “Trumped-up trickle-down.”
Clinton focused on Trump’s plans to cut corporate taxes steeply, from a top rate of 35 percent to 15 percent; his plans to cut tax rates for the highest earners, from nearly 40 percent now to 33 percent at the top rate; and to reduce regulations on business. Those are indeed his plans, and they are favored by many conservatives in what you might call the “trickle-down” camp.
But Trump does not fit neatly into that camp, because he breaks with conservative orthodoxy on his signature issue: trade. The opening exchanges of the debate illustrated this well. Trump mentioned tax cuts a couple of times, but he hammered relentlessly on the issue of renegotiating trade deals, even threatening tariffs against foreign imports. There’s nothing trickle-down about that. It’s a populist stance, moreso than many liberal Democrats who have long fought trade agreements.