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Kansas Republicans Finally Admit The Experiment Has Failed

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Kansas Republicans Finally Admit The Experiment Has Failed


Reprinted with permission from ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION.

Earlier this week, Dorothy and Toto returned to Kansas. Or reality returned, anyway.

The Republican-controlled state legislature revolted against the preposterous, alternative-reality dogma espoused by the ultra-conservative governor, Sam Brownback, who is a follower of the doctrine that claims cutting taxes will increase government revenue. On June 6, the legislature overturned Brownback’s veto, keeping in place a law that will undo the governor’s long-standing tax cuts and increase taxes by $1.2 billion over the next two years.

That amounted to a repudiation of a reckless philosophy with which Brownback is now completely identified. And it ought to serve as a warning to President Donald Trump, whose budget is modeled on the same magical thinking. The president has proposed whopping tax cuts that will overwhelmingly benefit the rich, claiming that those tax cuts will prompt businesses to hire more people, thereby creating a bounty of new jobs.

Several decades ago, conservative political strategists, aided by economists such as Arthur Laffer, popularized “supply-side” economics, although many respectable Republicans were skeptical at the time. When George H.W. Bush ran against Ronald Reagan during the 1980 GOP presidential primaries, he dismissed that ideology as “voodoo economics.”

But Reagan won, and supply-side economics gained popularity in the Republican Party, mostly because the idea served the interests of the rich to whom the party catered. Wealthy business moguls wanted their taxes cut, even though such cuts would inevitably starve the public treasury. Since conservatives also claimed to be fiscally prudent, they invented the notion that cutting taxes would increase the treasury.

Instead, the dogma of tax cuts has exacerbated income inequality (the rich benefit disproportionately) and eroded basic public services. State legislatures have hacked away at funds for colleges and universities, weakening America’s envied system of higher education. Primary and secondary education has been starved, too. Basic infrastructure — roads, bridges, railroads, dams — is collapsing. The electric grid is an early-20th-century relic.

And there is no evidence that tax cuts lead to job growth. In fact, the opposite is true: Some of the states with the lowest taxes have weaker economies than states with much higher taxes.

A website called WalletHub ranks states favorably for low taxes, with Alabama taking 14th place. The state’s unemployment rate is 5.8 percent. Contrast that with Massachusetts, which WalletHub ranks 31st among the states. Its unemployment rate is 3.9 percent.

The laughable theory that tax cuts produce more jobs and tax revenue has been tested on the national level, too. President Bill Clinton left not only a fast-growing economy, but also a federal treasury in excellent shape, buoyed by tax increases that were on track to balance the federal budget. But his successor, President George W. Bush, insisted on deep tax cuts, which led to massive red ink. And the economy? The Bush presidency coincided with a decade of no — zero — job growth.

Still, many Republicans have taken up supply-side economics with a religious fervor — and none more dedicated than Brownback, who took on Laffer as an adviser and instituted whopping tax cuts in 2012. The results were entirely predictable. The state had little money to support public services, such as public schools, and it scrambled to cover massive revenue shortfalls, even with severe budget cuts. As for the economy, the state ranked 45th in private-sector job growth over the past 12 months, according to The Wichita Eagle.

Brownback is still preaching his gospel of the impossible, though. “We’ve made a big step backwards,” he insisted after the legislature rebelled. Reality cannot permeate his bubble of belief, which has taken on the certainty of religious dogma.
But Brownback’s adherence to magical thinking couldn’t pay teachers or open libraries or cut the grass in public parks. It took a while, but voters did eventually notice. If your roof is leaking during a rainstorm, you can’t continue to deny that you are getting wet.

Cynthia Tucker won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2007. She can be reached at cynthia@cynthiatucker.com.

Cynthia Tucker Haynes

Cynthia Tucker Haynes, a veteran newspaper journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner, is a Visiting Professor of Journalism and Charlayne Hunter-Gault Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at the University of Georgia. She is also a highly-regarded commentator on TV and radio news shows.

Haynes was editorial page editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper for 17 years, where she led the development of opinion policy. More recently, she was that newspaper’s Washington-based political columnist. She maintains a syndicated column through Universal Press Syndicate, which is published in dozens of newspapers around the country. Besides winning the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2007, Haynes has also received numerous other awards, including Journalist of the Year from the National Association of Black Journalists.

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  1. Eleanore Whitaker June 12, 2017

    Of course their experiment failed. How could it not? People in the Northeast and Pacific Dem states have had it with the south and midwest whining about their joblessness and their attempts to drag our states down with theirs.

    They view our states as opulent and ostentatious by their low life standards they call their “culture.” Why would we want to help them more than we already do?

    65% of every budget passed by the Republican majority ONLY benefits their states. Check the amount of ROI they get from the $1 they pay in federal taxes. Not a single GOP state gets back less than $1.35. Now, Compare that to Dem states that get an average of 50 cents for the $1 they pay in federal taxes.

    If Republicans in KS, IA, OK, LA, MS, MO and TN have failed economies, it is time to FORCE them to take accountability for those they vote for.

    Why should people in Dem states pay our state and federal taxes and THEIRS too?

  2. InGen12 June 12, 2017

    Unfortunately, the people of Kansas re-elected Brownback so he could continue his Koch-backed destruction of the state. Glad to see the people and politicians have finally come to their senses and are pushing back against Brownie’s policies. It will take years for this state to recover from his “experiment”.

  3. opinioned1 June 12, 2017

    Kansas only confirms what American`s have know for years. The state is in direct competition for the dumbest of the dumb among all 50. The fools have never learned that out of 4534 words in our Constitution not one of those words are jesus-bible- or god. They continue to vote against their own best interest by supporting a moron like twitter dumb all while believing everyone but themselves are wrong. Keep right on screwing yourselves Kansan`s you appear to love it.

  4. alsoavietnamvet June 12, 2017

    Brownback has been following Paul Ryan’s “playbook” for the Nation’s economy. Ryan was preaching this “crap” when was Romney’s running mate. Now, after seeing Kansas implement this budget plan (and FAIL), I don’t understand how Congress, and Trump, can STILL push this plan.

    1. Paul Bass June 12, 2017

      Because the GOP only cares if you are in the top 1%, otherwise you’re a loser.

  5. Beethoven June 12, 2017

    “Supply side economics” is very similar to a belief in divine healing. If someone is suffering from a disease, some diehard believers will insist that fervent prayer is the answer, and cling to that solution rather than letting the sufferer go to a doctor, even while the sufferer continues to get sicker and eventually dies from the disease, one that would have been easily curable with modern medical treatment. And regardless of the evidence (economic facts), supply side economists will insist that their method will solve all our economic problems, while the economy continues to get worse and worse.

  6. johninPCFL June 12, 2017

    Not mentioned was that the gaping holes in Brownback’s spending plans were all plugged with federal money. Kansas, the great TAKER state.

  7. idamag June 12, 2017

    Real economists have always known the law of supply is demand and that the economy is consumer driven.


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