Most human beings learn early in life that conducting an experiment by sticking their hand in a fire will result in them feeling intense pain. However, if they are vicious and cruel they will never hesitate to see what happens if they stick someone else’s hand in the same fire. Kansas Governor Sam Brownback touted his trickle down tax cutting experiment would produce a bonanza in jobs, revenue, and economic growth the entire nation would marvel at and cause the rich no pain. Of course, the results have been exactly the opposite with Kansas residents and state government experiencing all the pain that a leader with an ounce of compassion would do anything to relieve; unless they are a Republican committed to the Koch brothers and Grover Norquist’s vision of abolishing income taxes as a means of abolishing government once and for all.
When Brownback first proposed giving away a $600 million budget surplus courtesy of his Democratic predecessor and add in another $1.2 billion for tax cuts for the rich and corporations, he knew the effects on the state would be devastating to the people. In fact, the recently ‘former’ head of the GOP warned Brownback at the time his trickle down tax cuts for the rich “will bankrupt 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 for the wealthy. Our $600 million surplus will be a $2.5 billion deficit within just five years.” Instead of heeding the warnings, Brownback promised his tax cuts for the rich will produce nothing but economic success and gave thanks “for how god blessed our state.”
Apparently the damage to Kansas’ economy and its citizens from his Koch-Norquist tax-cutting scheme is insufficient for Brownback. During his recent state of the state speech he told Kansas lawmakers he had no intent of changing course and would accelerate his trickle down attack on government and the people. He also revealed that he was emboldened and came up with a new plan to punish the people after being in consultation with business and industry leaders regarding “our shared concerns. They have been generous with their time and frank with their advice, and we will continue our march to zero income taxes.”
That statement was music to the Kochs and Norquist’s ears. In 1980 when David Koch ran for the vice presidency on the Libertarian ticket one of the “big ten” issues was “the repeal of all taxation.” Grover Norquist has championed eliminating income taxes for a couple of decades as a means of “shrinking government down to a size I can drown in a bathtub.” Brownback’s tax elimination scheme is, besides a wealthy-enrichment plan, a process of cutting government to death and he started slowly with the conservatives’ vaunted trickle down scam.
Thus far, Brownback’s embrace of his “god blessed” trickle down experiment to enrich the wealthy and corporations will cost the state $5 billion in revenue within a few years despite a non-existent possibility of Brownback and Republicans addressing a $278 million revenue shortfall within a few months. Despite already “chopping government down to size;” the real reason for the Norquist-Koch tax cutting crusade, Brownback promises to shift money to cover just a fraction of the shortfall by further slashing much-needed infrastructure spending, and naturally just rob more from the state’s pension fund that is already suffering a major shortfall; all in an effort to preserve and increase tax cuts for the wealthy. Brownback’s tax cuts have failed to produce the storied trickle-down benefits he labeled “an economic shot of adrenaline” as the state lags every other state in the region in GDP improvement as well as a pathetic job growth record lagging the national trend of substantial job expansion. The tax cuts have also not helped the state’s per capita income ranking and Kansas residents are fleeing the state in record numbers to find jobs, adequately funded schools, and decent roads.
Since there is no way Brownback is going to abandon his tax cuts for the rich, both to increase their wealth and reduce government for Grover Norquist, he has few options to avoid immediate bankruptcy besides taking more from the people. He has already cut healthcare, education, pensions, infrastructure, and several state agencies, so his only recourse is to substantially raise taxes on the poor and middle class; a prospect Brownback told legislators is “definitely on the table,” and since he intends on abolishing income taxes he will use an “income inequality” widening scam Republicans can embrace; raise state sales tax rates.
Raising sales taxes is a perfect Republican scheme because doing so does “disproportionate damage to poor, low, and middle-income citizens.” Increasing sales taxes, according to several studies is the most regressive economic policy scheme and does the most possible damage to minimum wage workers who have to spend every penny they earn just to survive. A sales tax increase will not affect the rich proportionally, and according to The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, states with high sales tax are ‘fundamentally unfair” to poor, and lower-middle-income Americans; particularly in states with no income tax because they “disproportionally eat into low-wage workers’ meager incomes.”
The Tax Institute’s list of the “Terrible 10″ states with no income tax and higher-sales tax reveals that “the bottom quintile of wage earners pay up to seven times as much of their income in taxes as the top one percent does.” What that means for Kansas residents, especially poor and lower-income residents, is that they will pay more to help Brownback eliminate taxes on the wealthy and corporations besides losing more funding for education, healthcare, infrastructure, and domestic programs. It is doubtless that Brownback thinks making the poor pay more to enrich the rich and corporations will bring more of “god’s blessings on the state’s richest one percent.
In four short years Brownback squandered a significant budget surplus on tax cuts for the rich, added another billion-plus dollars paid for with education, healthcare, pension, infrastructure, and child program cuts and still, the state is hemorrhaging cash. The state has suffered several credit downgrades, been ordered by two separate courts to adequately fund education, and lags the nation in every economic category. Instead of rescinding, or at least reducing, the epic tax cut gifts to the rich, Brownback met with business and industry leaders to plan a tax elimination scheme that forces more economic pain on the state’s poorest residents.
One wants to empathize with Kansans, but it is difficult to feel anything but contempt for those who re-elected a walking, talking, Koch trickle down devotee who just announced he is going to advance his experiment and inflict more pain on the people; except those who were smart enough to flee the state.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.