The Daily Parker

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Over Kansas, which has problems

Little coincidences like this amuse me. I'm currently flying over Kansas, and I just got a New Republic update containing a readout by John Judis on the conservative hell that is below me:

And yet for all his easygoing appeal, [Republican Kansas governor Sam] Brownback—who has long been fascinated by John Brown—is a true radical at heart. According to the author Jeff Sharlet, Brownback became involved with the Fellowship, a secret group that fused political conservatism with fervent Christian belief, as early as 1979, when he was an intern for Dole in the capitol. When he ran for Congress in 1994, he became a vocal leader in the pro-life crusade. And once in Washington, Brownback positioned himself even to the right of Speaker Newt Gingrich, admonishing Gingrich for failing to balance the budget and championing a bill that would have eliminated four Cabinet departments. In 1996, after Dole resigned from the Senate, Brownback won Dole’s seat. As a senator, his greatest triumph came when he led the charge against Bush’s Supreme Court nomination of Harriet Miers, whom he suspected of being squishy on abortion.

After he had ousted the moderate Republicans, Brownback was able to push an ideologically pure agenda with almost no real opposition. He obtained the power to nominate judges. He reduced tax cuts on the wealthy even more: The rate for the top bracket fell from 6.45 percent to 3.9 percent, and Brownback promised to eventually reduce it to zero when revenues from other sources made up for any potential losses. The economic benefits, he boasted, would be immense.

By June of 2014, the results of Brownback’s economic reforms began to come in, and they weren’t pretty. During the first fiscal year that his plan was in operation, which ended in June, the tax cuts had produced a staggering loss in revenue—$687.9 million, or 10.84 percent. According to the nonpartisan Kansas Legislative Research Department, the state risks running deficits through fiscal year 2019. Moody’s downgraded the state’s credit rating from AA1 to AA2; Standard & Poor’s followed suit, which will increase the state’s borrowing costs and further enlarge its deficit.

By the way, Thomas Frank's book about the state's descent into madness is worth a read.

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