Here's What's the Matter with Kansas…

The verdict is in, and it's time for conservatives to face the cold hard facts.

Right-wing trickle-down Reaganomics doesn't work.

It doesn't work internationally, it doesn't work nationally, and it doesn't work at the state level.

And we know this is true thanks in part to Kansas Governor Sam Brownback's 2010 decision to turn his state into a "real live experiment" in Reaganism and the religion of trickle-down economics.

Quickly after taking office, Brownback and the Tea-party controlled legislature passed massive tax breaks for the state's one-percent, repealed all income taxes for more than 100,000 businesses, tightened welfare requirements making life harder for the working poor and poor children, privatized the delivery of Medicaid so his corporate buddies could have a bigger slice of the state action, cut $200 million from the education budget, eliminated four state agencies and laid off 2,000 government employees.

In 2013, after he signed the largest tax cut in Kansas history with the help of legislators backed by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), he told the Wall Street Journal, "My focus is to create a red-state model that allows the Republican ticket to say, 'See, we have a different way, and it works.'"

And in 2016, six years after Brownback took office and started shaping Kansas into the "red-state model", you'd be hard pressed to find anyone in their right mind, Republican or Democrat, who would say that the economy in Kansas "works".

Back when Brownback initiated the plan, conservative economists like Arthur Laffer predicted a massive boom in the state, and the CATO-inspired Kansas Policy Institute projected that his tax cuts would create $323 million in new local revenues by the year 2018.

In reality, during the first year of Brownback's budget, the state lost $ 688 million and job growth shrank to 1.1 percent, below the national average.

And it didn't get better. In following years, job growth dropped to one-tenth of one percent, and personal income growth slowed from 6.1 percent to 3.6 percent.

According to the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy, the poorest one-fifth of households in Kansas, households that make less than $23,000 a year, saw their average taxes go up about $200 a year, while the richest 1 percent are saving an average of $25,000 a year.

That means that under Sam Brownback's "red state model", the richest 1% in Kansas are SAVING $2000 more in TAXES than the bottom fifth of households EARN in a year in INCOME.

As a direct result of this stupidity, now one health insurance CEO is taking his company across the border to Missouri, just to get away from the insanity, and the cruelty, of Brownback's so-called "red state model".

Jeff Blackwood, the president and CEO of Pathfinder Health Innovations, recently published a blog post called "Kansas Isn't Home Anymore" announcing that Pathfinder's headquarters will be moving from Kansas to Missouri.

In the post, Blackwood points out that Republican Kansas Governor Brownback has worked as an ultraconservative tool of the Koch Brothers and ALEC to make Kansas into "a test center of "trickle down" economics" where "the burdens for the shortfalls rest on the shoulders of those who can least afford it, children and the developmentally disabled.".

He points out that "One of Brownback's first actions was to close the [city of] Lawrence's office for Kansas Social & Rehabilitation Services," which provided services for low-income children and the developmentally disabled.

That cut was supposed to save $400,000 per year, but Blackwood points out that Brownback chose to pursue "a personal vendetta at the expense of the disabled" when he then proceeded to squander over $400,000 on lawyers and auditors to attack the Kansas Bioscience Authority.

Beyond that, Blackwood notes that when Brownback privatized Medicaid (which is what Paul Ryan wants to do with Medicare nationwide) the results were even more disastrous for the state.

Blackwood personally saw the impacts as the President and CEO of a private health insurance company, and he points out that the cuts to Kansas's Medicaid program led to significant delays in eligibility, an inexplicable loss of coverage, an increase in caseloads, and struggles for providers to get paid.

Blackwood ends his lengthy post saying that: "I can't, in good conscience, continue to give our tax money to a government that actively works against the needs of its citizens; a state that is systematically targeting the citizens most in need, denying them critical care, and reducing their cost of life as if they're simply a tax burden that should be ignored.".

A stagnant economy, failing job growth, falling personal income, massive budget shortfalls, loss of healthcare coverage, significant delays in healthcare services, and CEOs who take up stakes and move their businesses across the border: these are the results of Brownback's experiment in rabid "free-market" anti-American-government trickle-down economics.

What's happening in Kansas is no exception though.

ALEC is pushing this broken and cruel "red-state model" of Reaganomics in every state across the country, and they've successfully implemented it to varying degrees in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Florida, Texas, Arizona, West Virginia, and the list unfortunately goes on.

There is a proven alternative to the "red state model," though, because California has been running what might be called a "blue state" experiment since 2012 when voters increased the state's top income tax rate to 13.3 percent, the highest in the nation. In 2014, two years after that tax hike went into effect, California's economy grew by 3.1 percent.

One year later it grew by 4.1 percent, tying with Oregon for the fastest state growth of the year, and resulting in a budget surplus of nearly $900 million.

Of course, conservatives who pretend to understand economics, like Arthur Laffer, predicted a disastrous slowdown in growth in California, and they were as wrong about tax hikes California as they were wrong about tax cuts Kansas.

There's a simple lesson here: assume the opposite of whatever Arthur Laffer and his Reagan leftovers predict.

Brownback's experiment has proven that conservative anti-American-government "trickle-down economics" doesn't benefit anyone except for the super-rich and large corporations, and it undoubtedly and unnecessarily hurts the poorest and sickest Americans.

If we genuinely want to help low-income Americans, if we want to promote small businesses, if we really want to see our states grow, we need lawmakers across the country to reject the failed ALEC-backed "red state model" and to follow the proven model of raising taxes on the billionaire class and investing in the state economy.


cccccttttt 6 years 49 weeks ago

States are an excellent testing ground to see what works, both

the bad (Kansas red plan) and the good (North Dakota state bank).

Unfortunately, the EU does not have such a structure.

The free movement of labor and migrants across borders was causing

economic hardship and anger in the working class in Britain.

As one citizen said, "Enough is enough!".

The EU did not respond, and thus we see Brexit, the triumph of borders, language

and culture achieved in an historic election.


Jussmartenuf's picture
Jussmartenuf 6 years 49 weeks ago

Due to Brownback's pitiful leadership and medicaid privatizing, the city of Independence found it necessary to close it's hospital after 100 years of operation due to the failed fiscal policy.

To put is as kindly as possible, Brownback is a loser, a total economic incompetant and the people of Kansas who have voted him into office are a disgrace to their state. The incredible stupidity to continue a failed program speaks volumes to the deep red Republican mentality of the state. The same mentality that refuses to understand they are wrong. incredible. The inablility to learn from obvious mistakes is defined as worse than ignorant, it is stupid. I feel so sorry for those in Kansas who understand this but do not have the number of votes to correct it by throwing the bum out of office. I was born and raised through the 7th grade in Independence, i am embarrased when i read about the stupidity that prevails there.

dr818dr's picture
dr818dr 6 years 49 weeks ago


I agree with you 100% on Reaganomics. However you are off the mark on California (I've lived here 27 years). One reason our economy "looks" better today is that we fell further and recovered later than every other state.

The 3% tax increase was Proposition 30. It was promised to restore all the money taken from education during the lean years. After it passed Gov Brown decided that most of the money would go to "troubled" schools (i.e. those with illegal alien children. While those schools definately needed additional funding it leaves the rest of the school system a mess.

The state university system, once the envy of the world (the schools are still great) because of it low costs for residents is now not only exspensive but excluding state residents because they increased the enrollment of out of state kids for the money.

Our infrastructure is a disgrace as we have some of the worst roads in the country. Despite on going droughts we haven't built any additional water storage in over 30 years. We're now going to spend 68 billion (it will easily excede 100 billion if it is ever cmpletd) on a high speed train that will not be high speed will only go between LA and SF leaving out Anheim San Diego and Sacramento that was in the original 32 billion dollar proposal.

We also have massive long term unfunded debts.

But worst of all when the next recession hits the state will probably be close to bankrupt. Our tax system relies so heavily on the "rich" (capital gains) that when the bad times hit and all that tax revenue dries up there is no money to pay for all of the benifit programs the state increases as soon as they get a few dollars in their pockets.

Remember what I said when the next recession comes.

RepubliCult's picture
RepubliCult 6 years 49 weeks ago

I believe the republicans won't deviate from these failed theories because they DO NOT CARE how poorly their plans and programs work: They will only to keep saying that they work, repeating the lies over and over. And they'll add plenty of reasons why things aren't as rosey in Kansas as elsewhere by BLAMING "problems " in Washington, by democrats, liberals, progressives, Obama, Clinton, immigrants, etc.

Kend's picture
Kend 6 years 49 weeks ago

You will see in time that the states that are spending uncontrollably like California and Oregan will find themselves in huge trouble. Remember that the nation has taken on a massive amount of debt recently as well. Now about $60,000/per person. Over $161,000 per/tax payer. What do you think is going to happen if interest rates go up. Services will be limited as most of your taxes will go to service debt. Governments should not be able to borrow money, only raise taxes. Then the current generation pays. It makes me sick to know our grandchildren wil be stuck paying for our stupity.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 6 years 49 weeks ago

Kend, you're still playing dumb, I see.

Republicans and conservatives spend much, much MORE than lefties, they just don't tax, in willful attempts to bankrupt government. They spend on their cronies like defense contractors and such and put the government's - the people's - money into their own pockets, thieves that they are.

The Republicans are the drunken sailors. You're pretending not to know that, how cute.

Kend's picture
Kend 6 years 49 weeks ago

Mark, old buddy old pal. No where in my comment did I mention any parties. They both borrow way to much. Our grandchildren are going to pay no matter who borrows. All I am saying us let's think of them.

How are thing going for you. I hope we'll.

ChristopehrCurrie's picture
ChristopehrCurrie 6 years 49 weeks ago

If this keeps up, there will be a mass exodus from Kansas leaving greedy Kansas businesses with few (if any) customers left.

warrior0713's picture
warrior0713 6 years 49 weeks ago

HRC media annointed UP declared the presumptive nominee while over 2 million votes alone California not even ae than counted excuse me fair election please report facts truth not fairy tales for children.We are already being treated same as any other banana republic and disgrace watching Elizabeth I had such high hopes for her and HRC a neoliberalo a war hawk being endorsed by the enemy within every agency our government neocons PNAC worth discussing on air if you dare that is.

Uncle Geo's picture
Uncle Geo 6 years 49 weeks ago

Kansas is merely the latest proof and an example of how the GOP's central market theory fails at the state level. The proof that trickle down had already failed was in 2007. And also in the Stock Market Crash that led to the Great Depression. In each case wealth concentrated into very few hands with the help of legislators bought off by those wealthy few and laws that were either passed or repealed that made it all legal.

Same as it ever was. This is really no different than any other time in history except that the names have changed: the fabulously wealthy were called Lords, the laws were at the pleasure of kings and parliaments instead of presidents and legislatures and today's mega churches are the equivalent of official state religion with their fingers in the pie and fooling people into thinking God wanted you to make them rich.

Those who know history are doomed to repeat it.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 6 years 49 weeks ago

Hi Kend, I'm doing fine. Hope you're as well as you appear to be (if you were making sense I'd think you must be sick or something).
Democrats balance budgets, like Bill Clinton and LBJ. Republicans run up debt, quite willfully and intentionally, like Grover Nordquist and deficit spenders like Ronald Reagan. Democrats aren't afraid to tax, Republicans cut taxes then willfully go on a spending spree to intentionally create deficits.
This is a strategy to force privatization of government, to larcenously take the people's resources away from them and put them in some rich asshole's pocket.

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