By now, most Americans have heard the infamous line from Albert Einstein that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. A reasonable person would think that doing the same thing with full knowledge it will not give the same results is just stupid. One cannot fathom the Republican mindset that drives them to believe if they continue their thirty year experiment in trickle down economics, it will create jobs and be an economic bonanza that is both stupid and insane because it is always a monumental failure.
It is puzzling really, that if the so-called supply-side economic theory has been a failure on the national level, why Kansas Republicans thought if they started with a budget surplus, squandered it on huge tax cuts for the rich, the state’s coffers would be flush with money and a job creation explosion would follow. It has not been that many years since George W. Bush squandered a budget surplus on tax cuts for the rich that failed to produce the storied economic benefits of trickle down economics, but apparently Kansas Governor Sam Brownback (R) and the Republican legislature were asleep during Bush’s tenure. Kansas is going broke and predicted to be bankrupt within two years, job creation is lagging the entire nation, and it is all down to giving tax cuts to the rich at the expense of the state’s economic life and the people the Republicans were elected to serve.
The latest news from trickle down Kansas is that the state is so broke after Governor Brownback signed a package of nearly $1.1 billion in tax breaks for the rich last year, there are insufficient funds to keep homeless shelters open. A homeless shelter specifically for families in southeastern Kansas will have to close its doors starting next week, and it is all down to the increasing state budget shortfall that is a direct result of tax cuts for the rich. The CHOICES Family Emergency Shelter provides a place to live for 350 homeless people every year most of whom are children. The closure is another victim of the state budget shortfall that is so severe that even after cutting the funding by half for all of 2014, $100,000 was not enough to keep the shelter open past next week.
According to Steve Lohr, the Executive Director of Southeast Kansas Community Action Partnership, which runs the family shelter, “this is the first time in our 48-year history that it hadn’t received enough state funding to continue operating. We were defunded 50 percent.” Homeless families and children should not feel particularly singled out as expendable to make sure the rich received their tax cuts. Since squandering the surplus he inherited and giving over a billion in new tax cuts, the state is facing a serious revenue shortfall that prompted funding cuts for poor school districts and poor people who rely on food stamps to survive.
When Brownback signed the tax cuts, Democrats and some Republicans were intelligent enough to predict it would create a revenue shortfall not unlike during the Bush-Republican tax-cutting frenzy. At the time, former state GOP chair Rochelle Chronister opposed Brownback’s gift to the rich because “It bankrupts the state within two years.” The House Democratic leader, Paul Davis said, “There is no feasible way that private-sector growth can accommodate the price tag of this tax cut. Our $600 million surplus will become a $2.5 billion deficit within just five years.” Brownback was unfazed and said that his tax cuts would lead to even more success; “I firmly believe these reforms will set the stage for strong economic growth in Kansas,” and despite the unfunded $800-million price-tag, “I’m gonna sign this bill, I’m excited about the prospects for it, and I’m very thankful for how God has blessed our state.”
Likely, Brownback was also thankful to trickle-down economist Arthur Laffer, who guaranteed that increased economic growth would deliver more revenue and create jobs that thus far has the “State general fund revenue down over $700 million from last year” according to Duane Goossen, a former state budget director. Goossen also said the revenue drop is “a bigger drop than the state had in the whole three years of the recession,” and that the budget surplus that had been replenished since the recession “is now being spent at an alarming, amazing rate.” It was just a little over a month ago that the revenue shortfall was nearing the $500 million mark.
Of course, Brownback reverted to the typical Republican response when their economic malfeasance blows up in their faces and blamed President Obama for Kansas’s revenue shortfall and non-existing job creation bonanza from giving so-called “job creators” tax cuts. Brownback said, “This is an undeniable result of President Obama’s failed economic policies of increasing taxes and overregulation,” and “the uncertainty over the fiscal cliff of 2012” that was, like Brownback’s unfunded tax cuts for the rich, inspired by Republicans. If, as Brownback claims, Kansas Republican’s economic malfeasance is President Obama’s fault, the national job creation numbers would not be on the upswing and the overall economic picture would not be stronger; Brownback’s assertion is patently false.
None of the “trickle-down” economic benefits have materialized and Kansas’s job growth lags behind the rest of the nation “especially in the years following the first round of Brownback tax cuts.” The revenue shortfall prompted credit rating agency Moody’s cut the state’s credit rating in May, and it is entirely because of tax cuts for the rich; not President Obama’s economic policies, tax hikes, or overregulation. The travesty of another failed experiment in trickle-down economics is that Kansas legislators will have to make seriously deeper cuts to domestic programs with no plans to repeal the wealthy job creators’ tax cuts.
If the Bush-Republican tax cuts for the rich, and thirty years of failed trickle down economics, is not a cautionary tale for America under Republican governance, then the state of Kansas’s economy certainly is. Brownback’s failed economic strategy is minimal compared to the annual Path to Prosperity budget House Republicans pass with claims it will lead to economic growth and incredible job creation all at the expense of the poor and middle class.
It is a sad commentary that Kansas cannot afford $200,000 to keep a homeless shelter for families with children open, is cutting education funding drastically, is cutting food assistance for Kansas residents that cannot find jobs, and is still facing a devastating revenue shortfall all to give the rich over a $1 billion in tax cuts. It is not insane or stupid to do the same thing Republicans think will deliver a different economic result; it is typically Republican and informs that Kansas Republican loyalties, and raison d’être, is to enrich the already wealthy at the expense of the people, including families with children being thrown out on the streets; something Sam Brownback is likely “very thankful for how God has blessed our state.”