Thursday, July 17, 2014

Waldman: Kansas is a Tea Party lesson for the rest of US

Me and a Democrat buddy of mine (notice I omit the -ic at the end of Democrat to pander to my conservative friends) were complaining about Republican politicians when he said in frustration, "We should just elect all their Tea Party guys and let them run the country into the ground so people can see once and for all what happens."

I admit I'm tempted by that possibility sometimes; then I remember that we're talking about millions of people's lives and well being at stake, including innocent children who would probably lose their food stamps, school meals, libraries, health care, etc. if the Grand Old Tea Party got its way.

Instead we can look to Kansas, one of our 50 "laboratories of democracy," to see what happens when extreme right-wing ideologues take power.  Paul Waldman is Kansas' herald of doom [emphasis mine]:

In 2012 and 2013, [Governor] Brownback and Republicans in the legislature cut income taxes twice, eliminated taxes on corporate profits that are “passed through” to individuals (making it the only state that does this), and since they’re Republicans, made changes to the tax code that had the effect of raising taxes on the poor (the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has agood explanation of the tax changes and their effects). The governor has said his goal is to eventually eliminate the income tax completely.

And what happened? At a time when most states are seeing higher revenues as the country recovers economically, Kansas’ revenues have plummeted. The result has been cuts to schools, cuts to higher education, cuts to libraries, and cuts to local health centers.  Kansas’ job growth and income growth are lagging the nation’s.  In response to the fiscal difficulties, Moody’s recently lowered the state’s bond rating.

Waldman should also have noted that Kansas was not that bad off to begin with in 2012 when the GOP took over. Relatively speaking, Kansas was in the middle. And in terms of economic security as an index of factors, Kansas was one of the most secure economically, post-recession.  

So, based on ideology not fiscal or economic necessity, Gov. Sam Brownback and his GOP super-majority, said basically, "If it ain't broke let's fix it."  

Thankfully, their toxic experiment was contained to relatively isolated and sparsely populated Kansas. The only good results are, as I said, a warning to the rest of us, and that the Kansas GOP is now in a state of "civil war" between Tea Party extremists and everybody else.

By Paul Waldman
July 16, 2014 | Washington Post

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