Monday, January 19, 2015

What's (Fiscally) The Matter With Kansas

When Kansas governor Sam Brownback decided to take the advice of extreme conservative supply-side economists and reform the tax code to serve the interests of the few, he promised that it would generate economic growth and “lift all boats” (sound familiar). However, as the tax cutting plan was implemented, knowledgeable observers on both the right and the left predicted dire results.

And, as predicted, revenues dropped, no economic renaissance resulted, budget deficits swelled, services and public investment were slashed, the state’s credit rating was downgraded, and the population of Kansas was royally pissed off.  

Well, as it now turns out, he is prepared to raise some taxes. Would those be taxes on the wealthy? No. How about taxes on corporations? No.  Instead he will raise taxes on liquor and cigarettes. Yes, a sales tax -- the most regressive of all taxes falling most heavily on those least able to pay.  

Has Brownback learned anything from this experience? No. Why? Because the supply-side neoliberal economic theory is faith-based economics. Empirical evidence is irrelevant. They don’t call it market fundamentalism for nothing.

And so, in addition to announcing regressive sales tax increases, there was this: “We will continue our march to zero income taxes,” the governor said Thursday in his State of the State address. “States with no income tax consistently grow faster than those with high income taxes.”
There is no end to the fiscal insanity.

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