Thursday, June 08, 2017

What Paul Ryan Needs To Learn About Kansas' Catastrophe


Last month we speculated that unless congressional Republicans stop him, Trump would do to the U.S. what Governor Sam Brownback did to Kansas. Stopping him, though, isn't what Paul Ryan and his members have in mind-- encouraging him is more in line with what they want to do. Kansas was a petri dish-- an experimental lab-- for a crackpot far right ideological theory about how a government could run by cutting taxes for the rich and depending on trickle down. Kansas was the perfect place to do it not just because no one was looking but also because the radical right controlled every single office in the state and the voters seemed ready to go along with the scam. Kansas' whole delegation to Washington is Republican The state Senate has 32 Republicans and 8 Democrats and the state House contains 97 Republicans and just 28 Democrats-- super-majorities in both houses. And Kansas hasn't awarded a Democratic presidential candidate its electoral votes since LBJ in 1964. Trump beat Hillary 671,018 (56.6%) to 427,005 (36.0%), winning 103 of the state's 105 counties. But yesterday Kansas got this hearty congratulations tweet from Bernie Sanders (who, by the way, trounced Clinton in the state's presidential caucuses last year 67.7% to 32.3%).

Yesterday the Kansas City Star reported that "The Republican dominated Kansas Legislature that has soured on Gov. Sam Brownback’s vision for the state voted late Tuesday to roll back the governor’s signature tax cuts. Lawmakers voted to override Brownback’s veto of a tax plan estimated to bring the state more than $1.2 billion over a two-year span. The Senate vote was 27 to 13, and the House followed by agreeing 88 to 31 to supersede the Republican governor’s wishes on the tax plan and force the changes into law. Lawmakers marshaled together a coalition of moderate Republicans, conservatives and Democrats to overcome the governor’s opposition to seeing his landmark tax cuts, which have in large part come to define his tenure in Topeka, fundamentally come to an end."
Individual income would be taxed at rates of 3.1 percent, 5.25 percent and 5.7 percent starting in tax year 2018. A phased in rate begins during tax year 2017. The changes also end Brownback’s tax cut for certain business owners, known as the LLC exemption.

The tax bill also extends the sales tax revenue bond program, known as STAR bonds, by moving the sunset date to July 2020.

Tuesday’s veto was Brownback’s third this session. He vetoed a bill that raised more than $1 billion in tax revenue back in February, and followed that by striking down the Legislature’s attempt to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act a few weeks later.

Attempts to override the governor’s veto on both those bills failed.

Tuesday’s vote to turn away from Brownback’s wishes was the most recent signal that a statehouse that moved more towards the center after the 2016 election cycle has come to resist the policy points long championed by the Kansas Republican.

The legacy of Brownback’s signature policy change loomed large over Tuesday night’s debate.

“Where’s the common sense?” Sen. Tom Holland, a Baldwin City Democrat, asked during the debate. “We should have gotten off the crazy train a long time ago.”

Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning, an Overland Park Republican, made it clear during the floor debate that he voted for the 2012 tax cuts.

But it later became clear that the cuts went too deep, he said.

“He still believes in this,” Denning said about Brownback. “That’s OK. I don’t.”
The Kansas Senate Majority Leader could do America a big favor by having a meeting with the U.S. Senate Majority, Mitch McConnell, and the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, to explain to them what a catastrophe the experiment was and why it would be so wrong to take it national, as the Trump-Ryan-Mulvaney tax proposal plans to do. When Kansas went broke last year-- no money for essential services-- the state started selling off assets, which is exactly what McConnell and Ryan and congressional Republicans want to do: sell off tax-payer owned assets (national parks, bridges, roads, the Veterans Administration... things like that) to their salivating campaign donors. Kansas has no more assets left to sell off. What Brownback and the Republican extremists in the legislature brought Kansas was not the super-charged economy they promised but the lowest job growth and most sluggish economy in the region, the most disastrous state budget anywhere in America and a state debt rating that has been slashed again and again and again while Brownback was playing his games. This is what the editors of the Kansas City Star, who have lived through their nightmare, had to say to Trump, Ryan and McConnell, noting that their tax plan "strongly resembles the disastrous tax plan passed in Kansas in 2012."

Trump wants to consolidate individual tax brackets and lower the top rate. He would eliminate some deductions and, most crucially, dramatically reduce taxes for business owners, including millions of people who own businesses but pay taxes on their profits as individuals.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s 2012 tax reform blueprint was quite similar, and we know why. The same worn-out supply-side “experts” helped write both proposals.

Still, the president, the Congress and millions of Americans may be somewhat unfamiliar with the outcome of what Gov. Sam Brownback once called a “real live experiment” in tax policy.

No problem. We’re happy to offer some of the lessons we’ve learned first-hand over the last five years:
 The economy won’t grow at the rate you think. Brownback promised his tax cuts would provide a “shot of adrenaline” to the Kansas economy.

It never happened. Job growth in Kansas has lagged behind peer states, neighboring states and even some states that raised taxes.

A recently published academic paper suggests why: Kansans used the small business exemption to avoid taxes, not to add workers.

The governor and his allies blame slow growth on unanticipated slumps in the farming and energy sectors. That merely proves tax cuts are usually less significant than other macro-economic trends.

The American economy is changing dramatically. Health care jobs are up, while retail jobs have collapsed. Coal mining isn’t coming back.

Giving companies a huge tax break won’t change that.

 The deficit will increase. Remember when Republicans worried about the federal deficit? Good times.

Those worries have apparently vanished. That’s less important in D.C. than in Kansas-- Washington can deficit spend, Kansas can’t-- but, contra former Vice President Dick Cheney, deficits still matter.

And the White House can’t make that reality go away, no matter how many dynamic-scoring magic asterisks it uses. Kansas passed the biggest tax increase in state history in 2015 and is still $900 million short over the next two years.

 The business tax cuts will be unpopular. Kansas is one of the most Republican states in the nation, yet its GOP governor is a political outcast. Why?

The tax cut drama is one explanation. Kansans have grown tired of credit rating cuts, crowded schools, one-time transfers and budget crises.
But something else is at work. Kansans resent the fact that thousands of business owners pay no state income taxes at all, while working people do. In fact, those working people have seen taxes on food rise dramatically.

Trump’s huge business tax cuts, coupled with smaller reductions for individuals, will anger low- and middle-income Americans.

And ending the federal estate tax and the alternative minimum tax while eliminating federal deductions for health expenses and state and local taxes will make it worse.

We do not oppose tax reform. Paying federal taxes is too complicated and too distorted by tax breaks for special interests. Taxes at all levels should be simple, low, broad and fair.

But the president isn’t just proposing tax reform. He also wants a trickle-down tax cut for the wealthy. Kansans know how this story ends.

Trump isn't up for reelection in 2018; neither in McConnell. But Paul Ryan is. Defeating him and replacing him with a progressive Democrat dedicated it making government function to better the lives of working families is that way to put an end to this crazy Ayn Rand tangent the Republican Party has been distracted by. Randy Bryce is the iron worker and veterans' and union activist about to launch a campaign to do just that. "Kansas," he told us yesterday, "is pretty similar to Wisconsin as far as extreme policies go. I haven’t checked where the Jayhawks stand, but, I’d bet it’s close behind Wisconsin as the state where the Middle Class is disappearing faster than any place in the entire United States."
It’s been proven time and again that the “trickle down” experiment doesn’t work. All that I need to do is ask readers to take a look at this article in Salon to see that income gains since the 1980s are concentrated at the top.

Goal Thermometer What do the rich do with that money? Aside from stash it offshore, they also buy politicians like Paul Ryan.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with rich people. I have a problem with greedy people.

I’ve had enough of the wealth redistribution that has been taking place. All of what we working people have earned has been getting squeezed out of us and pulled up to those who already have everything that they want.

The wealthiest among us own the most. This means that they use the most. I think that a person who owns ten cars should pay more in taxes than the person who is still paying off one. Business owners depend on our crumbling infrastructure to deliver their goods. Why should we pay more to maintain it than they do?

Correct answer is we shouldn’t. But we do.

It’s time to put a stop to that. It’s time to end Paul Ryan’s career of disastrous decisions that have been destroying the Working Class.

2018 can’t get here soon enough. Within a short period of time, you can expect to receive an invitation to help make this become a reality.

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At 7:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What YOU need to understand about KS is that "they" (defined as the delusionally devout and pious randian and reaganite neoliberals of both parties) believe that KS is a qualified success story.

KS is in the lowest tier of states anyway. Their voters are maybe second or third dumbest (after TX and OK) and about 2nd or 3rd most evil (racism, misogyny...). So KS will always be R because that's what Rs are. Not much there except for ag and some defense contractors.

But even stupid racists know when their sphincter is being repeatedly violated. It won't keep them from voting R, but it MIGHT make them vote in OTHER Rs. This is why a partial rollback of the tax cuts for the rich was overridden. These asshats think that a symbolic reduction in the frequency and violence of their ass raping might allow them to keep their jobs.

But make no mistake. If the national disaster of Reagan didn't prove their religion is horseshit, a petri-dish disaster in KS won't prove anything to them either. Viewed through their delusional religious prism, they view any and all unfortunate consequences to be due to NOT DOING IT PURELY ENOUGH, and, besides, the victims are all the least among US and are, therefore, not worthy of concern.

If there is a high priest of this religion, it's ryan. High priests NEVER repudiate their own religions. Ryan's actions once the shackles came off on Jan. 21 have proved that his religious delusions about the efficacy of randian ass raping of the least among US have not changed.

At 7:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If there was truly Justice in this universe, Paul Ryan would lose everything he has and have to live in Kansas as best he can.

At 6:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What everyone also needs to understand is that KS voters have iteratively chosen brownback et al to ass rape them. And they will continue to vote for ass rapers over altruists.

They'll all gladly take it up the stovepipe as long as those they hate are also getting it up the stovepipe.


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