Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw) Weekend Contributor
In these post Recession days, we have seen various stories of state and municipalities economies make positive strides toward recovery. According to economist Paul Krugman, the state of Kansas is not one of those success stories. If you don’t recall, the Republican Governor, Sam Brownback, signed legislation granting huge tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy.
Brownback crowed that these tax cuts would lead Kansas into the promised land of economic nirvana. Unfortunately for regular, non-wealthy Kansans, the recovery has not materialized. As Krugman states, the economy in Kansas tanked.
“Sam Brownback, the governor, proposed the legislation — in percentage terms, the largest tax cut in one year any state has ever enacted — in close consultation with the economist Arthur Laffer. And Mr. Brownback predicted that the cuts would jump-start an economic boom — “Look out, Texas,” he proclaimed.
But Kansas isn’t booming — in fact, its economy is lagging both neighboring states and America as a whole. Meanwhile, the state’s budget has plunged deep into deficit, provoking a Moody’s downgrade of its debt.” New York Times
I guess this story may have garnered more national coverage if the Hobby Lobby decision had not consumed the mass media last week. Should anyone be surprised that supply side economics would fail on any level? If you were alive during the Reagan years and seemingly ever since, the Right continues to bang the drum of tax cuts for the wealthy and too many times a compliant Congress or in the case of Kansas, the Kansas State Legislature has agreed. I consider the constant Republican call for austerity for social programs to be part of this supply side mantra.
You know the argument. The wealthy and big corporations will only succeed if we give them big tax breaks and then the trickle down of gains for the whole economy will lift all boats. However, it did not work for the Reagan Administration so why would the Kansas Legislature think it would improve the Kansas economy?
As Krugman suggests the answer to why Kansas took this ill-advised economic course is the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and an economist named Art Laffer.
“For the Brownback tax cuts didn’t emerge out of thin air. They closely followed a blueprint laid out by the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, which has also supported a series of economic studies purporting to show that tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy will promote rapid economic growth. The studies are embarrassingly bad, and the council’s Board of Scholars — which includes both Mr. Laffer and Stephen Moore of the Heritage Foundation — doesn’t exactly shout credibility. But it’s good enough for antigovernment work.
And what is ALEC? It’s a secretive group, financed by major corporations, that drafts model legislation for conservative state-level politicians. Ed Pilkington of The Guardian, who acquired a number of leaked ALEC documents, describes it as “almost a dating service between politicians at the state level, local elected politicians, and many of America’s biggest companies.” And most of ALEC’s efforts are directed, not surprisingly, at privatization, deregulation, and tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy.” New York Times
If anyone was on the fence as to the ALEC connection to these austerity and tax cut for the wealthy and for corporations, this Kansas story should convince you. Prof. Krugman suggests that these cuts and policies are not designed to help anyone but the wealthy and the corporations that are paying for the ALEC service.
“But how can you justify enriching the already wealthy while making life harder for those struggling to get by? The answer is, you need an economic theory claiming that such a policy is the key to prosperity for all. So supply-side economics fills a need backed by lots of money, and the fact that it keeps failing doesn’t matter.
And the Kansas debacle won’t matter either. Oh, it will briefly give states considering similar policies pause. But the effect won’t last long, because faith in tax-cut magic isn’t about evidence; it’s about finding reasons to give powerful interests what they want.” New York Times
It seems evident that ALEC and Brownback and Laffer are not serious in their stated desires to help all the citizens of Kansas. Am I just being cynical? Are we expecting too much from State legislators and governors when we ask them to do what is best for all citizens? Or at least most citizens? Supply side economics has been long discredited, but Governor Brownback threw his unwavering support to principles and policies that only work to make certain people richer. The facts seem to indicate that Brownback and the Kansas State legislature are only concerned about corporations and the wealth.
I guess I should not be surprised since the Republicans and some Democrats in Congress are hell bent on boosting the corporate profits at the expense of the rest of us. Maybe the citizens of Kansas will remember this come election time. Maybe the debacle in Kansas will convince other States and Congress to stop the corporate entitlements and tax cut rhetoric and start legislating with all of us in mind. I can dream can’t I?
Does it surprise you that state legislatures and Congress for that matter never seem to be interested in tax cuts for the 99%? What do you think?
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