National Party leader Simon Bridges with his playlist-deploring deputy Paula Bennett. Photo by Elias Rodriguez/Getty Images

Has Simon Bridges trickled to the right of David Seymour and Jordan Williams?

Given he’s regarded as a leader from the pragmatic centrist side of the National Party, it was puzzling to hear Simon Bridges this morning apparently endorse trickle-down theory.

“I think there is some trickle-down effect actually, and a lot of people say no, no no,” said Bridges on The AM Show this morning, when questioned by Duncan Garner about his party’s record in dealing with inequality.

The term – suggesting that tax cuts for the wealthy will see benefits flow down through the economy to the poor – was coined during the great depression by an American humourist, and has mostly been deployed since as something to be derided by critics of free-market economics, rather than something acclaimed by free-market economists themselves.

If Bridges is genuinely now positioning himself as a Trickler, rather than the more mundane explanation of a Monday morning gaffe, he’s trickled well to the right of some formidable local thinkers.

For example, ACT leader David Seymour, a door knocker and a toe-twinkler, but not a trickler. “This expression is a pretty standard fantasy of the political left,” he’s said. “Not so much a straw man as the left’s imaginary friend. There is no such academic theory.”

Rightwing blogger David Farrar is all about the mischief and polling for the National Party, but he’s not about to talk trickle down. In fact: “The left have invented this theory, so they can claim it is what the right believes in, so they can them campaign against it.”

And Jenesa Jeram of the free-market thinktank the NZ Initative is having no bar of this trickle down nonsense, either. “Trickle-down economics is a complete caricature of the original arguments supporting economic growth. No economist has ever argued that in order to make a poor person richer you should make a rich person richer first. Economists have, however, argued that economic growth can make us all better off, whether we are rich or poor.”

Will no one help Simon Bridges? What about Jordan Williams, the man who is to the Taxpayers Union what Vladimir Lenin was to the Bolsheviks. Will he be our Trickle King? Nyet. “Trickle down economics doesn’t exist.”

Hang on. Maybe Bridges isn’t a Reaganomical outlier at all, but a leftwing plant, a sleeper cell woken in budget week. More on this and other theories as events develop.


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