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Kansas Trickles Down

Under the “leadership” of conservative governor Sam “trickle down economics” Brownback – who instituted massive tax and spending cuts and promised “enormous prosperity” – Kansas has instead gone to hell in a handbasket.

Now, things are getting even worse there. The state is completely controlled by Republicans, but they don’t seem to be able to govern themselves out of a paper bag (even one filled with money supplied by the billionaire Koch brothers, whose headquarters is in Topeka).

Facing a huge $400 million budget deficit that they have to fix (states cannot run a deficit as they don’t print money), the legislature is in their ninth day of overtime trying to fix the problem without raising taxes. For his part, Brownback announced he would unveil a tax plan that does the unthinkable and raises taxes, but a half hour later canceled those plans amid chaos and infighting in the legislature. After that, the best the legislature could do was a band-aid; a bill that raises a paltry $30 million in revenue by granting amnesty to people who owe back taxes (was their slogan “amnesty for tax scofflaws, but none for illegal immigrants”?).

After that, the Republican chairman of the Senate taxation committee offered to resign, saying “Nobody has an idea of what the heck they want to do this year.”

This is what happens when ideologues come up against the real world. Trickle-down economics (now called “austerity”) doesn’t work and never will. At the other end of the spectrum, pure socialism didn’t work either and has largely collapsed. When will we figure out how to travel in the middle of the road, without wild swings to the right or left?



  1. Yudith wrote:

    What do you call the kind of government that Sweden and Norway have? If you call it socialism, then socialism works. It works big time.

    Sunday, May 31, 2015 at 7:19 am | Permalink
  2. Iron Knee wrote:

    Sweden and Norway are no more purely socialist than China. When I visited China for a month, I was really surprised at how NOT socialist it was. Like, all freeways were toll roads, and anything beyond elementary school cost money. So I would say that (in many ways) China is less socialist than the US.

    As for Norway and Sweden, they are more socialist than the US, but I would not label them as purely socialist countries as they are still very capitalist. In fact, income inequality (while still relatively low) has been growing faster in the Nordic countries than in most other industrialized countries (see

    My whole point is (first) that pure socialism is no better than pure capitalism and (second) wide swings between the two cause even more problems. Our founders deliberately designed our country to change slowly (even though they were revolutionaries!).

    Sunday, May 31, 2015 at 9:53 am | Permalink
  3. John wrote:

    Dwight David Eisenhower knew how to walk a fine line. His farewell speech sounds nothing like anything a modern Republican would ever say… perhaps an example of how far to the RIGHT the American Left has actually swung.

    You’ve a good question IK: Why is “moderation” such a dirty word in American politics today?

    The answer, in part, is that both parties take their bases for granted and already know it’s impossible to pander to the center; the Center is for people who are thoughtful and who weigh how they vote and are not easily influenced by hysterics. Easier to pander to the extremes, people who can be led to believe the sky is falling. Those are the people who swing elections, and your earlier post about how few people understand the true cost of the ACA is an excellent example.

    Give people an easy solution (target) for their frustrations, and you can lead them to do almost anything. As in, “What’s REALLY wrong with this country is…” when the reality is that, in point of fact, the country as a whole is in better shape than it’s been in for decades.

    The environment, not so much. You know there’s a problem when it becomes acceptable to sacrifice water resources for energy.

    Monday, June 1, 2015 at 2:58 pm | Permalink
  4. Iron Knee wrote:

    Here’s an interesting article about moderation, including the factoid that Republicans have almost completely swung away from the middle. 90% of Republicans are NOT moderates, while 90% of Democrats ARE moderates.

    Tuesday, June 2, 2015 at 11:01 am | Permalink
  5. BTN wrote:

    It would be nice if the WP provided a sumamry of how the scores are calculated. Without that knowledge (yes, I saw the link), the charts – and therfore the article – is incomplete.

    For instance, how about a simple, objective chart that shows how often a politician votes AGAINST the majority of his or her party?

    Saturday, June 6, 2015 at 12:42 pm | Permalink