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What Happened in Kansas?
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  • Dale Fayda

    What a steaming pile! Brownback was right to cut taxes, but he wasn’t able to reform state spending to the sufficient degree. My understanding is that he was blocked in that task by the courts, as well as by the state Democrats, acting in cahoots with Republican “moderates” in the legislature.

    Cutting spending is never popular and there is no totally painless way to “starve the beast”, but the alternative is what’s happening in CA, CT and Illinois. All have been aggressively raising taxes and all are functionally bankrupt. Their unfunded liabilities are now so large as to be virtually un-payable, their public employee pensions are strangling their budgets and their Medicaid costs are spiraling out of control.

    Despite a much smaller population and economic base, Kansas has lower unemployment and poverty rates than either CA or IL and better schools and roads. A state government, like any other bureaucratic organism, has an innate tendency to grow out of control and it takes severe and sometimes painful measures to cut it back down to manageable size.

    For a primer on how “moderate” Republicans tend to handle financial responsibility see US Congress between 2001 – 2007, when they held the majority in both houses. Not a picture of financial rectitude by any stretch…

    • ReadTheConstitution

      There is some truth to what you say. It is also true that the result was higher taxes on those that can less afford them and lower taxes on those who can.

      You are right, though. Shrinking government is not popular in the short term. It has to be done. I think it is probably going to be more successful to do it like pulling off of a band-aid than incrementally. Small steps tend to disproportionate blowback from affected special interests without being able to demonstrate immediate benefits.

      • Jim__L

        The morale of special interests must be destroyed. They must not hope to regain their funding after they are defunded.

        Then we will have sustainable fiscal policy.

  • Pete

    Who is this boob JW who wrote implying that Rush Limbaugh is a Trump-sycophants?

    Mead, you better control your kiddies better.

    • Kevin

      Agreed. Enough with the petty insults.

      The analysis in the article is interesting, but the need to insult Trump is sophomoric. Are the authors at TAI afraid if any article which mentions Trump does not insult the man or his supporters that their neighbors in NY and DC might ostracize them?

    • Josephbleau

      Why is David Brooks not referred to as a “Hillary-sycophant?”

      • Pete

        He is — by people like you ad me.

        The New York Times, however, calls Brooks a ‘conservative’ because that enables that leftwing rag to say it is balanced.

        So, The New York Times is as big a liar as is Hillary

  • Wayne Lusvardi

    I would not offer up David Brooks as the great dichotomizer in chief of the nomenclature of “moderation”. “Big/Small”, “Open/Closed” are both deficient in capturing up where the political Zeitgeist is today. These sort of dichotomies are what Leo Tolstoy called “magic words” or concepts. Is there anyone against “openness?” Are those who want limited government “closed minded?” There is a cliche being bantered around in the current presidential race that seems more to resonate with the perceived reality faced by state and local economies: “in touch/out of touch”. This is a dichotomy that Brooks probably still can’t fathom for “Open” is a code word for global and “Closed” is a code word for national (which he opposes). It just so happened that the dogmatic Libertarian candidate in Kansas lost because he was out of touch with those institutions, corporations and interests in his own constituency and not because of any magical formula or ideological code words of “Big/Small” or “Open/Closed”.

  • Wayne Lusvardi

    I thank TAI for covering this topic. However, a matter of fact probably needs to be added. Today Donald Trump endorsed “moderate” Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan and “Neo-Conservative” John McCain for Senator of Arizona.

    • Jim__L

      So Trump can kiss and make up after questioning whether McCain is an actual hero? Not a bad move.

      • Wayne Lusvardi

        That is another issue. All I tried to do is point out the facts omitted in the article. This is politics not an ethics exam or Sunday School.

    • bff426

      Yes, I saw the television clip of Trump is endorsing Ryan and McCain, along with Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire. Looked very much like some hostage videos I’ve seen.

  • Boritz

    Fails to consider that Kansas sits in the geometric center of a toxic economy created by liberal policies including the great job and growth killer of Obamacare.

    • Rodney

      Agreed. Under the Coolidge administration, a tax cut resulted in an increase in revenue. Of course, the Coolidge administration also observed strict fiscal discipline, allowing the government to reduce the national debt while simultaneously cutting taxes. To cut taxes while failing to control spending is a recipe for fiscal trouble.

    • FriendlyGoat

      Goat? Are you calling the goat?
      I will concede for you that tax cuts have marginally worked in some times past (maybe the JFK administration)—–but only because of the extreme height from which the rates were falling, because of deficit spending, and lately, because of the Fed money press. The fact now is that income taxation at the federal level is low enough that you don’t get much bump in anything by reducing it. If—–IF—-we imposed the kind of spending cuts which writers and readers here deem desirable with the tax cuts, we would simply kill millions of jobs which would not be replaced by much of anything. The investor class already owns trillions of dollars not invested in anything real other than trying to out-trade each other and it simply WILL NOT use newly-acquired money from high-end tax cuts to hire anybody. One of our problems is that we have more investable money sloshing around now than can find promising investments—–while we keep growing a federal deficit to avoid killing real jobs. We certainly don’t need more cash to push the yield on bonds all the way into negative territory.
      As for implying that Obamacare ruined Kansas—–you need to try harder. That one is too ridiculous for you.

      • Boritz

        Read again more carefully. I’m not saying Obamacare ruined Kansas but a larger project known as the United States economy (giving us the New Normal). There are other factors but they stem from the same source.

        • FriendlyGoat

          Some of us believe that decades of high-end tax cuts have so screwed the economy that not even years on end of zero interest rates can fix the damage from those tax cuts (which are largely still in effect for this “New Normal”). Meanwhile you are waffling around with “other factors stem from a larger project known as the United States economy”——or—–you’re still blaming Obama.
          Who the heck knows?

          • JJ

            Not at all. The fact is, when we had rates up to 94%, there were so many loopholes and tax shelters that the AMT had to be introduced in 1969 because many super high end earners paid NO TAX. This myth has TO DIE. Do you REALLY think that people do not change personal behaviors in response to prices? WHY WOULD TAXES be any different?

          • FriendlyGoat

            There is a good-to-excellent chance that Donald Trump’s tax returns would disclose that he is paying very small taxes in relation to his actual wealth accumulation—–very possibly none at all in some years the experts say. We could start there to give ourselves a national refresher in loopholes and shelters before we start tinkering with the code, no?

          • JJ

            You’re deflecting, the argument about lowering marginal tax rates “screwing” the economy is not borne out by the revenue data in real economic terms. We’re not talking about only Donald Trump, were talking about the champagne socialists who want to “pay their fair share” on paper and hire lawyers to get around the laws in the first place. So, I AGREE, deductions, loopholes, and offshoring are bad in general, but they are a response to high prices.
            At any rate, I support a land tax and nothing else, because it is very hard to offshore land.

      • JJ

        It’s very simple – you lower rates and reduce and (ideally) eliminate deductions. For income taxes, it appears using lawyers for tax shelters and offshoring income and assets becomes unprofitable at about a maximum 25% marginal rate.

        • FriendlyGoat

          Let’s have the debate FIRST about what deductions to eliminate and how much revenue would be raised at current rates by eliminating each one. THEN, you would know how much money can be “spent” in rate reduction to produce the effect you describe on a revenue-neutral basis.
          The thing is—–you and I both KNOW this will never happen because, 1) The sh*t hits the fan with every discussion of every deduction to be eliminated, and 2) The most powerful voices do not want them eliminated anyway.
          Sooo—-you say, let’s reduce rates and compensate by killing deductions. I say, let’s quantify what the death of those deductions amounts to and let that tell us how far we can reduce the rates.

          • JJ

            Ideally, you will eliminate all non business deductions, and have a per person exemption. The other debate is how much the government should spend, my ideal is no more than 20% of GDP.
            One big shelter are “charitable foundations,” headed by high earners – NOT necessarily well known charities that have low expenses. I know people who buy EVERYTHING through the foundation and technically it is administrative expense…right!
            It’s true, tax policy is a landmine, because vested interests lose the forest for the trees – one person’s subsidy is another person’s tax, and the NET benefit for most people is not there.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I’d still like to see the deductions and “loopholes” we say we will eliminate listed and quantified. Many of the ones we need rid of, of course, actually are classified as “business” deductions now.

          • JJ

            That’s the “landmine.” This is PRECISELY why I have come to conclusion that almost every new government program that moves money around, or “protects the consumer” or “nurtures business” like it is a baby, must be opposed. Focusing on “the rich” is a government industrial complex deflection in order to expand bureaus. Businesses, especially big ones, co-opt free market economics, when all they want is a new tax credit.

  • ReadTheConstitution

    This article is thinly disguised partisanship. I can only guess the audience is that tiny sliver of Republicans that are as close minded as the progressives and equally undiscerning.

    What happened in Kansas is this: The voters will keep cycling through Republicans until they see something change in D.C. or Kansas. Since Republicans in congress continue to be ineffective and uninterested in pursuing their stated goals/values/platform, we can expect more of this on a national scale. It has little to do with any ideological nuance or difference between candidates.

    It would actually be good for the country if turnover in congress remained high. Keep the corruption off balance and the establishment from establishing. By behaving ignorantly, Kansans are being pretty smart.

  • FriendlyGoat

    With a little luck, Kansas is signaling that the extreme end of American Republicanism has already jumped the shark and we are just waiting for the American people to cancel the whole show.

    • Dale Fayda

      You’re joking, right? Yet another deep Blue city is staring into the abyss of insolvency: http://www.chicagotribune.com/ct-moodys-chicago-emanuel-detroit-bankruptcy-edit-20150505-story.html. This after Detroit (America’s largest post-apocalyptic city) and Puerto Rico have both gone belly up after decades of Democrat rule.

      Deep Blue Maryland, Illinois and Massachusetts have all turned to Republican businessman governors to bail their financial chestnuts out of the fire. Whether they’ll succeed or not is another conversation.

      Here in CA, the public pension unfunded liabilities alone are at astronomic levels: http://articles.latimes.com/2010/apr/06/opinion/la-oe-crane6-2010apr06. Recently, TAI has reported how even that obscene amount is likely underestimated.

      I can put dozens more lines of similar statistics next to these ones, but it would be redundant – I know that you have long ago got the picture.

      The Blue Model is collapsing, here, there and everywhere – math always wins. You think people in imploding, terrorized Venezuela are “feeling the Bern”?

      • FriendlyGoat

        No, I wasn’t joking. Of course various regions of the country have serious and specific problems. They always have. The question of whether extreme conservatism is falling over a tipping point is not measured by that. It is measured by whether the Republican spokespeople are credible. It is now proven that Brownback was not. With a little luck, as I said, we might decide on a broader consensus that Trump and his supporters are not, the Tea Party is not, and the GOP platform is not. I’m cheering for one side as I always do, not necessarily predicting. Too many unknown unknowns can hide inside 90 days.

        • Dale Fayda

          Whether or not the “dark queen” wins or not, it will not slow down the Blue Model’s demise. In fact, it may even speed it up. The end results of leftist governance and social engineering in this country are plain to see and they are truly horrific.

          Verily, liberalism is a mental disorder.

          Oh, and by the way, here is at least one thing Brownback got right: http://dailysignal.com/2016/04/25/kansas-required-work-for-food-stamps-heres-what-happened. The same has happened in Maine as well. Has anything like this EVER happened under a Democrat state government anywhere? Of course not – the essence of liberalism is the reduction of as much of the populace to helpless supplicants of their repressive welfare state as possible.

          • FriendlyGoat

            “The Daily Signal is the multimedia news organization of The Heritage Foundation.”
            Of course it has a spin on its positions and some stories which support conservatism. Others of us do not find those on single areas such as food stamps to be convincing evidence of our “mental disorders” on all issues taken together.

          • Dale Fayda

            How do you spin a drastic reduction in food stamp case load, where most of the former recipients went back into the workforce and are now earning well above the food stamp eligibility level as anything but a signal success?

            People get off the dole, make more money, recover their self-esteem and the tax payer saves gobs of dough. All accomplished in a short amount of time with a simple, common sense rule change. Imagine the sea change in the fortunes of the permanent underclass liberalism has created and perpetuated if this philosophy was applied across all means tested programs – local, state and Federal.

            To liberals, the success of a welfare program is judged by how many people are permanently on it and by how much it costs – the higher the cost, the greater the success. To conservatives, the success of a welfare program is judged by how many people no longer have to be on it. See the difference?

            If liberals ever found a cure for poverty, they would burn it. THAT’S what I mean by calling liberalism a mental pathology.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I am happy for any people who got off the dole, got good jobs and recovered their self-esteem. That is our American dream for everyone. I DO KNOW that it happened for some. I DON’T KNOW that it happened for most of those driven off of food stamps.
            We liberals happen to believe that liberal policies in general help more people work in good jobs than pure free enterprise and “small” government. You call it crazy. We call it logic and observation.

          • Dale Fayda

            “I DON’T KNOW that it happened for most of those driven off of food stamps.” Did you read the article, FG? Sounds to me like the vast majority of them got actual paying jobs (which they didn’t have before, hence the work requirement) and are now making their own money in excess of the food stamp qualification threshold.

            “We call it logic and observation.” World Communism collapsed in a heap of its own disfunction and absurdity. Social Democracy, aka the Blue Model is in advanced stages of decay; it’s breaking down right before our eyes, fast & furious, all over the world.

            The 20th century happened – observe that. The 21st. century is showing us more of the same – you may want to take a gander at that too.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Yes, Dale, it “sounds to you” like the vast majority of them got really good jobs which lifted them out of desperate circumstances. That’s what a Heritage Foundation piece is supposed to “sound” like. Their Maine example simply SAID that 80% of the food stamp cases stopped receiving food stamps:

            “Within the first three months after Maine’s work policy went into effect, its caseload of able-bodied adults receiving food stamps plunged by 80 percent, falling from 13,332 recipients in December 2014 to 2,678 in March 2015.”
            That “sounds to me” like no detail on what happened to the people who were pushed off the program.

          • Dale Fayda

            If any of these people were now starving, gangs of bleeding heart liberal reporters (redundant, I know) would be setting themselves on fire covering that “outrage”. The fact that NOTHING like that has happened tells me that most of these people have found gainful employment and that you’re just reaching for straws.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I actually believe that the liberal agenda with respect to our election is about a great deal more than “food stamps” (speaking of straw men.)

          • Dale Fayda

            It is, indeed! It’s about the Democrat party having decades ago declared war on the people of the United States, their way of life, their ideals, their God and their moral fabric.

          • Dale Fayda

            What, no response to my Chicago comment?

            Brownback is the devil, but decades worth of phantasmagorical Democrat corruption is the answer? 45 Democrat political convictions in a year in a single city, almost 1 a week, not counting major holidays – that’s banana republic territory, ha? The mind boggles… Are they speakers for the “working man”, in your opinion?

            And we both know that’s just the tip of the iceberg for that debauched crap hole – those convicted were just the dumber and less well-connected ones, who got caught and couldn’t bribe their way out..

          • FriendlyGoat

            Take your energizer battery out. You’re like that drum-banging rabbit.
            You KNOW—–surely—–that I’m not caving to “conservatism” on the basis of anything whatsoever that you bring up, okay? It’s Sunday, Dale. Rest your battery.

          • Dale Fayda

            OK, I’ll take it easy on you next time, old timer. Like I wrote earlier, when material works, it just works.

            I know darn well I’m not going to make a difference with you and that’s not the point. But I will continue to call you on your snarky myopism.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Of course you will. The famous bunny never does anything but march and beat the bass drum either. The same drum-bangers have been on parade since Barry Goldwater.

          • Anthony
          • FriendlyGoat

            Thanks. My moments with Dale always NEED interruption. I hope Professor Stiglitz, in his new book, will help bring us to the realization that trade agreements are not really between countries anymore as much as they NEED TO BE between citizens of all those countries and what they permit their incorporated entities to do. If TPP and TTIP are bad, they are bad because country bureacrats and corporations write them—–without much from the citizens. That said, these things aren’t going to stop. In this country Republicans will write them just as fast as Obama or Hillary Clinton. Trump supporters just don’t know it.

          • Anthony

            Summed up well, nothing to add FriendlyGoat!

          • Dale Fayda

            I know you make it too easy for me, but sometimes the data is just too “in-your-face” for me to pass up…

            Here’s a one small sample of Democrat governance, over a relatively short time period, in single city: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_history_of_Chicago#20th_century

            Particularly telling is this paragraph:

            “Chicago has a long history of political corruption, and has been a de facto monolithic entity of the Democratic Party from the mid 20th century onward. Research released by the University of Illinois at Chicago reports that Chicago and Cook County’s judicial district recorded 45 public corruption convictions for 2013 and 1642 convictions since 1976 when the Department of Justice began compiling statistics. This prompted many media outlets to declare Chicago the “corruption capital of America”.

            And once again, I can put up scads of similar statistics about every single one of Democrat party stronghold all over the nation, but I would get writer’s cramp listing just a tiny fraction of it.

            Liberalism is corrupt to its core; oppressive, immoral, brutal, venal and degenerate.

  • Frank Natoli

    We, the good readers of TAI, are to imagine that Kansas is really an island in the Pacific, or maybe an asteroid between Earth and Mars, that exists in a vacuum, in complete independence of the national economy.
    Democrat voters, including, perhaps, the author of this article, have twice chosen a President who has strangled GDP growth in favor of Democrat platitudes [which perhaps pleases the author of this article]. So when the national economy tanks, it is, as per the author of this article, incumbent on all states to ratchet up taxes to make up for losses in GDP caused by Democrat policies at the national level.
    Yeah, sure, that makes sense…to a Democrat.

  • JJ

    Supply and Demand side economics exist in the Keynesian space – meaning MOST macroecon people believe you cut taxes and increase government spending to counter a recession. The “trickle down” comes from Reagan, and sort of comes from the free market economists like Milton Friedman. The PROBLEM is that it has been misrepresented by both liberals and many conservatives.

    All that Friedman observed was that income taxation was a joke in 1962 – the income tax system, with a top 94% rate, had so many loopholes that a flat 16% rate with an exemption would collect the same amount of revenue without harming anyone. The OTHER benefit would be all the sheltered and off-shored capital tax coming back into the Treasury’s coffer. He NEVER bought into supply OR demand side econ – they were just part of the impediments that excessive government spending brought people.

    What IS the right number? People like Friedman would say anywhere from 10-20% of GDP. In many places in Europe, it can reach 60% of GDP if there is a recession.

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