Ben Tracy is a CBS News correspondent based in Los Angeles.
A couple of weeks ago I received an e-mail from a producer in New York who said, "We'd like you to do a story on trickle-down economics." I was kind of perplexed as to why we would be revisiting Ronald Reagan and the 1980's.
I was quickly corrected. The story idea was actually about the effect someone at the top of the economic food chain (well-off person) cutting back their spending has on those of us further down (middle class and below).
It's actually reverse trickle down economics.
So, we set out to find some people affected by someone else's cutbacks. Believe me, it wasn't hard. You saw those folks in our story that aired on the Evening News. The amazing thing is that in doing this story, I heard from so many other people we didn't include about the cuts they are making to deal with rising gas and food prices and salaries that don't seem to be keeping pace. Some people make the obligatory cut in their Starbucks allowance or cut out vacations. Friends of mine have really cut down their driving to save on gas. I won't pretend that I am struggling to make ends meet, but I do find myself cutting back as everything seems to be getting more expensive. I now bring my lunch to work and am very conscious about how much I drive as gas prices here in Los Angeles are averaging $4.09!
However, there are some people who have never been to a Starbucks or who could not conceive of buying their lunch at a restaurant every day. For them, higher gas prices mean changing jobs or moving. Higher food prices mean they don't eat as much. They are folks who really suffer from this "ripple effect" or "trickle down."
Ironically, most economists say cutting our spending is a recipe for recession, because the American economy depends on consumers. But how do you spend money you no longer have?