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The Future of the GOP
Red Dawn in the Morning, Incumbents Take Warning

Across the country, many of those governors who tacked further to the right during their tenure in office are now facing the hardest re-election campaigns. The challenges facing Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, who now leads his Democratic opponent Paul Davus by only .6 percent, have gotten a fair amount of play in the media, especially after a coalition of 100 state Republicans endorsed Davis. At the heart of the Brownback controversy is an apparent revenue shortfall that has followed cuts to both taxes and spending. The state month on month collects much less revenue than predicted, missing revenue targets by hundreds of millions. Experts expect a $238m budget shortfall by July of 2016, and Moody’s has downgraded the state’s credit rating as a result. The promised fruits of the Kansas Red Dawn have not, at least yet, appeared.

But as the FT points out, Brownback is not alone:

In Wisconsin, Scott Walker, another Tea Party favourite who used one-party rule to pass key conservative reforms, is struggling against a relatively unknown Democratic challenger. His tax cuts have not produced the economic boom he promised and, like Mr Brownback, he is asking for more time.

Michigan’s Rick Snyder is in a similar position, having dismantled union rights in the auto industry heartland. Florida’s Rick Scott, Georgia’s Nathan Deal and Maine’s Paul LePage are also in tough races. Pennsylvania’s Tom Corbett is down 15 points to his Democratic challenger.

Each of these races has their own unique dynamics, and hard-pressed governors have their counter-narratives. In Kansas in particular, defenders of the Brownback approach argue that the budget imbalance only exists because opponents of the governor stopped cuts to inefficient government programs from going far enough—and that this imbalance could be addressed without introducing more taxes or cutting services. But the public doesn’t appear to be buying, in Kansas or elsewhere. If Republican leaders in Kansas can’t convince residents there to go along with the Brownback plan, then any attempt to export that general approach to the whole country in a national election is almost certainly doomed.

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  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    The Government Monopoly should be starved, any money it spends is mostly wasted, stolen, or over-payed at a higher than market rate. Studies have shown that Nations benefit from up to 15% taxation that is used for Defense, Justice, Foreign Relations, and basic Infrastructure, but anything more than that is an unnecessary burden on the economy. The fact is “Reduced Growth” is the greatest sin in the Universe.
    Take it from Einstein, when asked by one of his groupies “What is the Greatest Force in the Universe?” Einstein who was very familiar with the super critical reaction of an Atomic Bomb, instantly replied “Compounding Growth”. So it is “Compounding Growth” that is the Greatest Force in the Universe, and any strategy which maximizes “Growth” utilizes the “Greatest Force” in the Universe. Everything in government spending which isn’t absolutely necessary, works directly against the “Greatest Force” in the Universe, and must be entirely removed if we ever want to see a brighter future.

  • Anthony

    One of the most basic and important ideas of economics – that business and government have complementary roles as part of a mixed economy – has been allowed to get lost in 30 plus years of anti-government sloganeering. One result, to infer from Feed’s theme, has been (in states mentioned) election of governors and legislatures advocating budgetary/fiscal cuts and theoretical unfettered free market opportunities. For all that, now citizenry (some a majority perhaps) has come to see such governance as suspect and short sighted. To my mind (and this is purely speculative from my end), voters in states cited above have been hard pressed to realize that market practices alone can systematically avail not only good governance but also provision of certain public goods – business oriented practices may not comport to wide sweep of state responsibilities.

  • Andrew Allison

    It might be wise to wait until after the election rather than Friday [/grin] morning quarterbacking. One Brownback does not necessarily a Democratic Party summer make. And what will you say if, despite the apparent odds, he gets reelected? Is it not at least conceivable that the voters have figured out that the current trajectory is unsustainable?

    • Jagneel

      I hope he gets elected and doubles up on his tax policy. We all know that

      : Tax cuts, especially on the wealthy, will result in increase revenues.

      Cutting spending in the time of recession is a good idea.

      Science, economics, ..reality have liberal bias.

      It says in the bible

      “Tax cuts for me; benefits cuts for thee” -4:20 Paul (Ryan)”

      • Fred

        Happy thirteenth birthday.

  • ljgude

    My view is that the GOP is the traditional party of the establishment and what has changed is that the the Democratic party has become the establishment. It is a big ask to expect the GOP to find the way forward quickly. I don’t think they are ready. The Tea Party movement is a clear sign that many Republican’s are trying hard to come up with a new way forward and going back to the constitution is an excellent way to start, but only part of the task. The answers are still blowing in the wind, but one thing is sure the establishment thinks it already has the answers and that there is no problem. So they will go on until they can’t. In the mean time the GOP has to keep trying new things and if they don’t work, trying other things. It looks to me like those GOP governors have been a bit too idealogical and may have to look harder for solutions that do work.

    • Boritz

      I think that’s a groovy analysis.

    • FriendlyGoat

      Indeed. The GOP needs something besides “Tax Cuts Create Jobs.”
      Because they don’t.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    It was never going to be easy to reduce Big Government, as far to many leftist pigs have their snouts stuffed into the taxpayer’s wallet. And look how loudly they squeal when the right tries to wean them off.

  • Curious Mayhem

    These governors also pushed hard on haphazard, ill-thought-out schemes of budget and tax cuts that led — predictably — to messy results, and results very different from what was promised. And none — except for Walker, to an extent — has dealt with the pension issue and outsized influence that public employee unions have that hang like swords over so many states.

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