Kansas Republican Governor Sam Brownback challenged by irresponsible tax cuts
There was a time when a politician could simply claim he wanted to cut taxes. No one wants to pay taxes and generally a politician simply touting tax cuts had a built-in advantage. This continues to work if the politician is unable to get the tax cuts. The next cycle the politician can blame a bad economic state on the fact that taxes were not cut. That politician could then continue running on tax cuts.
Red State Kansas Republican Governor Sam Brownback is a politician like most Republican politicians who believes tax cuts are a cure all. The problem for Sam Brownback is he got his wish. The bigger problem is that his wish is causing an economic catastrophe Kansas. Now it may cause him his job to Democrat Paul Davis in a very Republican state. Paul Davis is ahead in the polls.
Paul Krugman’s piece in the New York Times says it best.
Two years ago Kansas embarked on a remarkable fiscal experiment: It sharply slashed income taxes without any clear idea of what would replace the lost revenue. Sam Brownback, the governor, proposed the legislation — in percentage terms, the largest tax cut in one year any state has ever enacted — in close consultation with the economist Arthur Laffer. And Mr. Brownback predicted that the cuts would jump-start an economic boom — “Look out, Texas,” he proclaimed.
But Kansas isn’t booming — in fact, its economy is lagging both neighboring states and America as a whole. Meanwhile, the state’s budget has plunged deep into deficit, provoking a Moody’s downgrade of its debt.
It is clear that Sam Brownback’s reliance on discredited supply-side economics daddy, Arthur Laffer, for economic wisdom was a mistake that even Oklahoma, a dark Red State was not willing to make. California replaced its conservative tax averse governor and was rewarded with one who was willing to tax and trim appropriately to generate a surplus. Bill Maher had a field day with that reality which he presented in a rather amusing New Rule.
Most of the tax cuts proposed by Republicans have consistently gone to the most affluent. After-all estate taxes, corporate taxes, and many of these other taxes mostly affect the affluent few. Politicians never seem to be concerned in keeping or increasing regressive taxes like sales taxes, gas taxes, or others that are not income dependent. As such, while middle class and poor folks buy into the tax cutting rhetoric many times believing it will help them, it never really does. Their college tuitions go up. Their healthcare costs go up. Their fees for just about everything else go up to give those with means yet another break.
Stop the presses. Anyone who read the book “What’s the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America” may be in shock today. The anti-tax cut revolution in Red State country may actually begin in Kansas.