Skip to content

A Closer Look at Kansas

Business Insider has a detailed analysis of Kansas’s Grand Conservative Experiment of reducing the size of their government by cutting taxes and cutting government. They did something interesting in that they analyzed the results based on the results predicted by Governor Sam Brownback’s administration:

Nick Jordan, the state’s revenue secretary, said the administration ultimately imagines the creation of 22,000 more jobs over ‘normal growth’ and 35,000 more people moving into the state over the next five years. And he expects the tax changes to expand disposable income by $2 billion over the same period.

Those are fairly precise predictions, so let’s look at the results:

  1. Promise: 22,000 more jobs over “normal growth”. Reality: 25,000 fewer jobs compared to “normal growth” — a difference of 47,000 jobs. The number of jobs actually declined.
  2. Promise: 35,000 more people moving into the state. Reality: 50,000 fewer people moving into the state — a difference of 85,000.
  3. Promise: $2 billion increase in disposable income. Reality: disposable income decreased by $18 billion — a difference of $20 billion.

That’s right, in every case the promised increases not only did not appear, but they turned into decreases.

Even worse, if you measure the results in the four neighboring states, none of which enacted tax or services cuts, the four states did much better than Kansas. In fact, even in areas where before the cuts Kansas was doing better than their neighbors, after the tax cuts Kansas did worse.

How much more proof do you need that trickle-down economics is a complete failure?

Apparently much more, because even now, Donald Trump and the Republicans are working hard to enact a tax agenda that is frighteningly similar to what was done in Kansas:

President Trump’s tax plan, for instance, includes trillions of dollars in tax cuts that would flow overwhelmingly to millionaires and wealthy corporations.

It even includes a very similar proposal to Brownback’s policy of giving a special low tax rate for so-called “pass-through” income.

Those who fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. I applaud the Kansas legislature, who despite being solidly Republican voted to repeal Brownback’s tax cuts and even overrode his veto. Let’s hope that the Republicans in Congress can also wake up.

UPDATE: Considering that Sam Brownback is one of the least popular governors in the US (even Republicans are turning against him), he needs to start looking for a new job. And Donald Trump is having a very hard time finding anyone willing to work for him. So it is not a surprise to anyone that Brownback is being vetted for a position in the Trump administration. Brownback must be very desperate.

Also published on Medium.