The Koch Brothers’ Dream State Just Keeps Failing
If you ever need a perfect example of just how backwards and damaging right wing policies are, look no further than Kansas. Kansas Governor Sam Brownback was the Kochs’ dream come true — he truly believed in the Conservative-Libertarian principles of small government, low taxes and privatization of social programs and was willing to try their small scale experiment in his state to once and for all prove Reaganomics, or trickle-down economics works. Similarly, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker are both trying similar policies in their states which are also showing the same dismal results.
In 2010, riding the Tea Party/Obama-hate wave, Koch-supported Gov. Brownback was elected for his platform promising Kansans to cut income taxes which would create a well-spring of jobs and economic growth.
This came at a time when the U.S. saw enormous job loss during the economic crisis in 2009, and people were thirsty for creative solutions. Brownback was making promises very few other governors were making and he was elected by a large majority.
In 2011, he made good on his campaign promise and all but eliminated income taxes for the wealthiest Kansans and business owners. In 2012, he cut income taxes again, leaving the poorest Kansans paying an 11.6 percent in taxes, while the wealthier Kansans pay a rate of 3.6 percent. Similar to GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee’s “Fair Tax” plan, Brownback increased the sales tax in the state to make up for the lost state revenue from cutting income taxes for wealthy Kansans and business owners, which also punishes the poor because they spend more of their income buying goods.
By the end of his first term, Brownback’s plans were beginning to look disastrous but he ran his campaign on “stay the course, these things take time to work” and gullible Republicans re-elected Brownback, but by a much smaller majority. What came next was a steady dismantling of social programs and a ballooning deficit that called for major cuts in the state.
Within a few days of the second election, the state announced a $600 million budget deficit, which is expected to grow to the billions if Brownback doesn’t take serious action. Funding was cut from education, more people were kicked off welfare, cuts to infrastructure spending, as well as a refusal to expand the state’s medicaid program. The education cuts were so bad, schools in six districts had to close their doors early.
As for the well-spring of jobs, the “adrenaline shot to the heart of the growing economy” the tax cuts were supposed to provide that Brownback promised?
The Kansas City Star reports that in August Kansas saw a loss of 3,000 total jobs and that’s on top of 5,100 jobs lost in July. In the past year there have only been 1,000 jobs gained. Kansas has the fourth worst record for job growth in the U.S. seeing only a .1 percent growth in employment — that’s embarrassing considering neighboring states that did not slash taxes are seeing job growth in the tens of thousands. For example, Missouri saw 31 times the job growth Kansas had in the last 12 months.
The Kansas City Star writes:
The Legislature this year had to pass the largest tax increase in state history just to balance the books.
Meanwhile, the state is borrowing $1 billion to shore up pensions and diverting road funds to other uses.
The stunning new employment numbers provide new evidence that the jobs are not flocking to Kansas.
Now, as far as Libertarian ideals go, Brownback’s plan has been a relative success despite having to raise taxes again. Conservatives constantly bray about “large government” and Brownback bankrupting his state caused a major reduction in spending on programs conservatives deem wasteful such as spending on students, or the poor, or the elderly, or the disabled.
This just so perfectly sums up for liberals, who believe in spending on the poor and for education, that top-down economics does not and will not ever work in this country. And remember, the Kochs are doing their best (and failing) to get their favorite horses elected in the 2016 presidential race so that they can implement their libertarian ideology on a much grander scale, so be wary, there’s more failure to come.