This isn’t in Kansas anymore, Toto.
Gov. Sam Brownback is making Kansas an unrecognizable Libertarian mess.
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback is taking GOP ideals to the extreme, and with a GOP heavy state legislature, there is no one there to reason with him and tell him just how bad his ideals are for the big picture. After severely bankrupting his state by running a trickle down “experiment” with taxes, he’s now gone crazy slashing education, investment in infrastructure, arts, social programs and making laws that affect women, the poor and the population in general negatively.
Gov. Brownback himself refers to his policies as experimental, but as the data keeps rolling in, he’s going to have to face the music that perhaps he’s proven his own hypothesis wrong and that Libertarian leadership just doesn’t work in the grand scheme of things.
7 reasons why Kansas is a conservative-controlled hellscape:
7. Doing away with concealed carry permits: As if gun crime in the U.S. wasn’t bad enough, Gov. Brownback just did away with concealed gun permits and training requirements. I’m sure the police force in the state is just absolutely appreciative of this new law.
In 2007, before Gov. Brownback took office, Kansas quietly overturned a ban on guns in bars, letting businesses decide for themselves if they will allow guns. Now, regardless of bar policy, gun owners can bring their guns with them wherever they go. Go home Kansas, you’re drunk!
The Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence Kansas chapter spokesperson, Loren Stanton said:
There is no way that taking away training can make guns safer.
6. Welfare shaming: Recently, new language was added to Kansas’ Temporary Assistance to Needy Families to add further limitations to where cash assistance can be used. Kansas residents receive up to $497 for a family of four per month— we’re not talking big spending bucks here. Among places where TANF is now banned were cruise ships, bail bond companies, casinos, lingerie stores, tattoo parlors, for the purchase of tobacco and liquor, and swimming pools, movie theaters, theme parks or arcades. ATM withdraws are now limited to $25 per day.
Kansas Watchdog found that less than three percent of TANF funds are spent on activities outside of the purview for assistance, which you can see why this was so incredibly necessary to shame all assistance recipients over (sarcasm). Many recipients feel like the Kansas government changed the law to shame all people on TANF, because it gives the impression that it was such a problem in this state that the law had to be changed, when it was a really, insignificant issue. The poor are often subject to unfair stereotypes and this was no exception.
But as Chris Hayes pointed out on MSNBC, it’s also ironic that farmers who receive millions of dollars in subsidies from the government don’t have these equal limitations. When state Senator Michael O’Donnell was asked in an interview with Hayes why farmers don’t have the same kind of restrictions where their government dollars are spent, O’Donnell responded that they are more responsible with their money. Yet, 97 percent of TANF recipients are responsible spenders too. Isn’t that strange?
5. Drug testing TANF recipients: While many believe this is a good practice to keep those on drugs off assistance, drug testing poor people is known to yield incredibly poor results. It ends up costing the state thousands to sometimes sums of millions of dollars to catch such a small minority of people because as it turns out, poor people can’t actually afford drugs. It also punishes children of drug users because once a person produces a positive test, they aren’t eligible for assistance for at least five years.
The only positive outcome of this law signed by Gov. Brownback in 2013 is that if a person does test positive for drugs, Kansas state is willing to send them to a drug treatment program for a year — but that treatment also comes with a price.
4. Cuts to education: After running his state into the ground by cutting income taxes for rich people (facing a $600 million deficit), Gov. Brownback assured Kansans that he wouldn’t cut from education. And then he turned around and cut $54 million from public school funding and is projected to cut more. Some schools in small towns even had to close their doors, and with every education cut comes the laying off of teachers and faculty. Kansas is already on the middle-low end of student spending, but recent data isn’t available to see exactly how these cuts have affected student spending. Brownback is also making ambitious changes to school funding, with SB7, which opponents say favors block grants that give schools more flexibility on student spending but will deeply cut operational funding.
And with these cuts, the GOP gets exactly what they really need — a generation of people too stupid to know how terrible conservative ideals are.
3. Unemployment: After the 2009 recession, unemployment was high nationwide. In order to jump start the economy, Brownback had two options: invest in education or cut taxes for the rich — of which he chose the latter. Trickle-down theory suggests that if you cut taxes for those at the top who are responsible for job creation, more jobs will be created because it allows company owners to expand. The idea is also that it will attract business in from out-of-state. In 2011, Brownback cut income taxes for top earners and businesses in the state, yet job recovery has moved at a snails pace. If trickle-down theory worked, job recovery should have been almost immediate, instead until 2014, Kansas’ unemployment rate lagged behind the national average for 21 consecutive months. Currently, Kansas has a 4.2 percent unemployment rate, but in the larger cities like Wichita and Kansas City, they are still sitting at well over 6 percent, which is well above the national average.
2. Abolishing second trimester abortions: Kansas is under fire after passing a law which bans a specific kind of procedure that is often performed in the second trimester of pregnancy. The procedure that was banned was a method of dismantling the fetus to make it easier to remove and vacuum it out of the uterus once the woman’s cervix is dilated with medication. Very few abortions take place in this time frame, but it’s also important to women to have this option available in cases of severe disabilities in the child, which aren’t discovered until later in the second trimester. There also were no rape or incest exceptions added to the bill. Another important detail is that some women don’t even know they’re pregnant for a few months, and can now easily miss their time frame to have a legal abortion in this state, which may lead to more coat hanger abortions.
It’s also important to note, that Brownback has been defunding Planned Parenthood statewide, so while Conservatives may want less abortions, by making low cost birth control harder to obtain, they’re making matters worse.
1. Tax reform: Economists call Brownback’s tax reform an economic nightmare. I’ve mentioned several times that Gov. Brownback cut income taxes that led to the dire state of affairs in his state. More specifically, in 2011 Brownback made good on a campaign promise to almost eliminate income taxes in his state. His solution for the lost revenue would be to increase the sales tax, but increasing the sales tax shifts the tax burden from the rich onto the poor. His tax plan also didn’t account for the major loss in revenue and he didn’t have a plan to cover the spending the state is accountable for. Today Brownback is facing a projected $600 million deficit.
And as far as libertarian ideals go, it really was the perfect plan — bankrupting the state so he can cut back on social programs without taking a ton of flack for doing so, and that’s exactly how it played out. Important to note, the Democrats favorite boogeymen, the Koch brothers, are based in Wichita and were huge supporters of Brownback’s campaign, so you can imagine how big their role is in this “experiment.” Now Brownback is trying to figure out a way to save face and save his state, but his hands are tied by the promises he has made. He tells Kansans that reform takes time but it will pay off, and that he wants to stay the course and needs their patience, but his constituents were becoming disgruntled before his last re-election.
The good news is, is that whenever liberals need a perfect example of just how big of a failure supply-side economics is in practice, they only have to point to Kansas.
Here’s to you, Kansas!
While much of the data from the new policies in Kansas haven’t been developed and analyzed, it’s still fairly accurate to say Kansas is on a path to utter failure.
The rich continue to get the breaks in this state and their large subsidies remain unrestricted. The poor Kansans are subject to humiliation, their children under-educated, and their income taxed in unfair proportions compared to the wealthy. They are demonized and mocked while the state does little to invest in education, infrastructure and healthcare that supplies good jobs to families and invests in the communities.
And to the libertarian/conservative dream, more women will be saddled with children and will become slaves to the economy — working for less wages at demanding jobs so their employer can save a buck just so they can put food on the table. And god forbid they need TANF, because they will be put through the rigmarole that is government assistance. All so they can endure the rich exclaiming, “How dare you take your child to the movie theater on my dime!”
But eventually it will negatively affect the wealthy, because as the poor and middle class families pinch their pennies the “job creators” will start to feel the strain as each year yields less and less revenue for their businesses.
All the while, Kansans will watch their state fall apart and have to endure Brownback’s mackerel gaze while he brays, “Stay the path! Be patient! Success is around the corner,” but there is no success around the corner, at least not success any sane society wants. Pregnant teenagers, an influx of unwanted, neglected children in the system, gun homicides, a generation of children who can’t compete with others outside of their state, and an increasing prison population due to the lack of opportunities.
The Koch’s paid good money for this experiment. And the Koch’s want what they paid for — an Ayn Rand Libertarian state forcing social conservatism on the population, while the rich get richer and the poor are left to fend for themselves.