Fiscal Conservatives want you to believe that the Government, whether it be Federal, State, County, City, or local should be small. They want you to believe that if any of these governments would just cut taxes to the bone, economic prosperity is right around the corner for everyone.
They have been telling us this for at least 30 years. Ronald Reagan tried it at the Federal level. His regular rant was that Government wasn’t able to fix the problem because government was the problem. He ushered in huge tax cuts, mostly for the wealthy so that their money would be invested and “trickle down” to the rest of us. It never happened.
At the same time, Reagan began boosting the Defense budget by billions of dollars. The end result was a recession right in the middle of George H.W. Bush’s first term as President. You remember George H.W. Bush, he was Reagan’s Vice President and believed in the same nonsense. As a result, the deficit grew hugely, a recession hit the country, and Bill Clinton defeated Bush in the 1992 elections.
But, Conservatives said not to worry. Everything will turn around if we just stick to the plan outlined by Reagan. 30 years later, we are seeing the biggest income inequality since the turn of the century, the 19th to 20th century that is. We are facing huge deficits brought on by two wars and a catastrophic economic disaster in 2008 caused by deregulating the financial industry. Yet, conservatives still tell us that if we just cut taxes for the wealthy even more, things will turn around.
This fantasy has been playing out in Kansas for several years now. And, the result is even worse than it was at the Federal level under Reagan. Kansas is bleeding money. Its deficit has grown and the only way Gov. Brownback wants to balance the budget is on the backs of the poor.
In 2012, Gov. Brownback along with his voodoo-economics smarty pants Art Laffer planned to “save” Kansas from all of this economic mess. They set about and slashed income tax rates across the board, especially deep cuts for top earners, and elimination of taxes on small businesses. It was supposed to spur economic growth in Kansas never seen before!
Brownback said at an April 2012 economic conference that the tax cuts would be “like shooting adrenaline into the heart of growing the economy.” Laffer wrote in September 2012 “Cutting taxes can have a near immediate and permanent impact which is why we have advised Oklahoma, Kansas, and other states to cut their income tax rates if they want the most effective immediate and lasting boost to their states’ economies.”
In 2014 Brownback started preaching patience for his plan. If there was such a great adrenaline shot into the heart of Kansas’ economy, why preach patience? Because it never happened. Kansas actually began lagging behind other states in job growth. The state started bleeding money because it didn’t have the revenue to keep up with budget demands. It started slashing budgets for education and other social services agencies. He told CBN in October 2014 that his “tax policy takes some time for it to work.”
Even Laffer started changing his rhetoric. At the start of all of this economic miracle growth he’d guaranteed an “immediate and lasting” economic boost. By January 2015 he urged Kansans to wait. “You have to view this over 10 years,” he told the Kansas City Star. “It will work in Kansas.”
But will it really work in Kansas? The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a non-partisan organization points out in their just released economic projections that personal incomes in Kansas will grow more slowly than the national average through 2017. “Serious academic literature typically finds little relationship between a state’s tax levels and its economic performance,” CBPP notes. “So there’s no reason to think that the tax cuts will cause Kansas’ economy to boom in the future.”
It is safe to say that the Brownback/Laffer tax scheme has failed to live up to its promises. Though it has been great at redistributing wealth to the top of the income ladder, while, at the same time, screwing over the people at the bottom. While the rich soaked up the lion’s share of the tax windfall, the poorest Kansas families actually saw their tax burden tick up a bit.
The real problem is that this scheme in Kansas was supposed to be the Republican Party’s testing ground for voodoo economics. This is the plan that the Republicans want to unleash on the rest of America. It has been their economic policy for over 30 years.
Every Republican Candidate for the Presidency in 2016 adhere to this failed economic scheme. For that matter, every Republican candidate for any office adheres to this failed economic scheme. The funny thing is that none of these candidates are using Kansas’ scheme as proof of their plan working. Probably because it is failing! If it had worked, you know they would be saying they have the magic bullet for economic growth. They would just say “look at Kansas” for proof.
Well, I say that when you look at all of the candidates for office, regardless of what office they are running for, just remember their failed voodoo economic policies in Kansas. If you vote for the current Republicans, you will likely turn up in Kansas.
Maybe the Democrats should use a new slogan. When it comes to prove Republican economic policies are a failure, just “Remember Kansas!”