I don’t live there, but I’ve been watching what’s going on in Kansas because there’s a fascinating battle between ideology and reality going on there.My wife and I have gone ketotic, and after a refreshing cup of “bulletproof coffee“, I have a lot of energy to write about it!!
Sam Brownback has been governor of Kansas since 2010, made it his explicit mission in his state to demonstrate the magic of supply-side economics. That is simply, if they made massive tax cuts, the benefits to the economy would be so great, that not only would businesses thrive, but the budget would actually improve and life would be better for everyone because of all the growth. Never mind that economists who have looked at this hypothesis have found no evidence to support it. It’s a firm belief of some conservatives. And so Brownback and the Kansas legislature did it. In 2012 they passed a massive tax cut bill. And then they sat back and waited for the free market to work her magic. And they waited. And the budget got redder and redder and their fairy godmother refused to show. Brownback said that the experiment just needed more time, there were reasons. He was narrowly reelected.
Now, the Kansas economy has lagged significantly behind the nation as a whole for years. Private businesses have benefited from tax cuts, as have the wealthy, but the public sector budget, schools and roads, have been hemorrhaging money–through 2019 the deficit is project at over $1 billion.
Republicans in the Kansas legislature are starting to revolt. Yesterday, they narrowly failed to overturn Brownback’s veto of a tax increase that was designed to end the experiment in huge tax cuts that never seem to pay for themselves as advertised. The great thing about an experiment is that if you’re paying attention, you learn something. Brownback hasn’t learned yet, but more and more Kansans appear to be.
This story gets more fascinating when the Affordable Care Act (ACA) gets factored in. Because the deep red state of Kansas has of course refused on principle to take advantage of the ACA to expand Medicaid. Conservative philosophy is the only reason I can think of for refusing to accept federal dollars to pay for the health care of the poorest in your state. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, Kansas lawmakers have reopened the issue of Medicaid expansion with the House voting overwhelmingly to expand and sending the bill to the Senate. Mike Pence referred to the ACA as a national nightmare, but apparently, Kansas is looking to the law to help them out of the nightmare budget hole they have created. Interesting to see where this goes.
Also interesting to see how long we drink the butter coffee. Not going to lie, it was pretty tasty!