After winning a convincing victory in his gubernatorial bid in 2010, uber-conservative Sam Brownback declared Kansa would be a “real live experiment” that would prove, once and for all, that the way to achieve prosperity conservative-style was by eliminating government to usher in an economic Utopia the entire nation would rush to emulate. Brownback was just one of several Republican governors to enact the allegedly brilliant “red-state model” of tax cuts for corporations, the wealthy, and businesses large and small, while cutting government down to size from top to bottom by starving the state of revenue. Thus far, Brownback has accomplished his mission, but the red-state model’s devastation has drawn criticism from Kansas Republicans and Democrats alike.
For an alleged liberal-leaning journal, The New Republic weighed in with its own criticism of Brownback’s “experiment,” but did not go far enough in condemning Brownback. His red-state model did inspire them to declare that “Sam Brownback tried to create a conservative utopia. He created a conservative hell instead.” According to the New Republic, Brownback’s agenda was driven by “three decades of right-wing agitation from anti-government radicals Charles and David Koch” who were “the single largest contributors to Brownback’s campaigns.” The magazine also revealed that after winning in 2010, Brownback appointed an accountant with the Koch brothers’ advocacy arm, Americans for Prosperity, as his budget director and tasked another Koch group with pushing his disastrous tax proposals and government-cutting agenda.
At the time, Brownback bragged to the conservative Wall Street Journal that his “focus is to create a red-state model that allows the Republican ticket to say, ‘see, we’ve got a really different way, and it really works!'” Obviously, after nearly four years, the storied red-state model is proving to be exactly the economic disaster every economist not working for Americans for Prosperity and the Heritage Foundation predicted. Now, the New Republic finally condemned Brownback’s “red-state model” as a “conservative Hell.” However, that did not prevent Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell from telling Brownback that “This is exactly the sort of thing we (Republicans) want to do here, in Washington, but can’t, at least for now.” It is an intent that McConnell’s Democratic opponent should be sharing with Kentucky voters without pause.
McConnell is anxious to lead the Senate and join House Republicans in enacting Brownback’s Koch brother model at the national level.
In fact, he made a promise during a speech to the Koch brothers’ billionaire cabal that Republicans will indeed closely follow Brownback’s red-state model and “go after the federal government, all of it” when they control both houses of Congress. However, every aspect of that Koch brother anti-government, anti-regulation, anti-tax, and anti-revenue agenda Brownback enacted in Kansas is “conservative Hell,” and likely monumentally worse than it appears.
The NR criticism revealed some aspects of the red-state model that are uniquely Koch-libertarian ideas such as Brownback establishing an “Office of the Repealer” to take a machete to regulations; not to create jobs, but to cut government and increase corporate profits. They also noted Brownback’s conservative Hell made Draconian cuts to every and all manner of spending on the poor, rejected free federal Medicaid subsidies, cut healthcare services by privatizing Medicaid, and abolished four state agencies that eliminated 2,000 state jobs. Kansas substantially lags the nation in job creation.
When the New Republic says that among the Republican governors that swept into power in the 2010 midterms that “no other state had gone this far” they specifically noted “the heart of his program consisted of drastic tax cuts for the wealthy, tax hikes on the poor, and eliminating taxes on income from profits for more than 100,000 Kansas businesses.” It is worth reiterating, time and again, that his tax cut disaster was promoted by the godfather of supply-side (trickle-down) economics and Reagan-era economist Arthur Laffer who promised the tax cutting reforms would be “a revolution in a cornfield.” It was a revolution leading to conservative Hell that Kentucky voters should know McConnell admits “is exactly the sort of thing we (Republicans) want to do here, in Washington, but can’t, at least for now.”
A sampling of Brownback’s agenda that Republicans at the national level want “to do here in Washington” according to the New Republic is “in the first fiscal year, enacting tax cuts that produced a staggering loss in revenue—$687.9 million, or 10.84 percent.” Brownback’s second round of tax cuts cut revenue by 45% as of June that was $92.9 million less than projected. The NR noted specifically that the nonpartisan Kansas Legislative Research Department predicts the state will be running deficits at least through fiscal year 2019 without some kind of drastic intervention. Many Kansas Republicans have been warning Brownback’s tax cuts will bankrupt the state within two years; something Mitch McConnell says is exactly the same thing Republicans want to do “when” they control the Senate.
They also noted that Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s last two credit downgrades will increase the state’s borrowing costs and further enlarge its deficit. Something Mitch McConnell promises is exactly the sort of thing Republicans want to do in Washington. McConnell’s intent is despite the conservative Hell under way in other Republican states such as Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Texas, and every other Republican-controlled state following the Koch Brownback red-state model, or in New Republic-speak; conservative Hell.
It is surprising that every Democratic candidate for Congress or governor is not making Kansas’ red-state model, and McConnell’s wish to do the same thing in Washington, their primary campaign message going into the home-stretch of the midterm elections. President Obama opened the messaging door for Democrats by contrasting the difference between his economic and job creation success with Republicans tvwho want to impose the Koch-Kansas’ conservative Hell on the entire nation, but are too cowardly to say it out loud. It is true that most regional voters are clueless about what goes on beyond their local neighborhood, much less their state, but with such a shining example of complete and total failure of the Koch’s Kansas red-state model and McConnell’s lust to do the exact same thing in Washington, it behooves Democrats to educate voters.
If as Democrats claim, this election is as important to the people and nation’s economic health as their appeals for campaign donations purport, then there is no excuse for missing a golden opportunity to expose “exactly the sort of things Republicans want to do in Washington;” send the entire nation to what the New Republic labeled “conservative Hell.” It is a precious gift from conservatives that Democrats across the nation are monumentally foolish to ignore.