Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Failed State

The state of Kansas was supposed to be the laboratory of the conservative prosperity theory: cut taxes to the bone and the free market will take off: hey presto, Emerald City!

So how’s that working out?

In Kansas, Republicans dominate the state government. They have the Governorship (Former Senator Sam Brownback), the State House (92-33 for the GOP), and the State Senate (32-8 for the GOP). Democrats don’t have a say in this blood red state that went 60%-37% for Mitt Romney in 2012.

Brownback and his buddies have enacted all manner of conservative economic policy in the state. Cutting taxes, et cetera. What is the result? Guess.

Citing a sluggish recovery from the recession, risk inherent in the governor’s tax plan and uncertainty over the Legislature’s ability to keep cutting spending, one of the nation’s two major debt rating agencies downgraded Kansas’ credit rating Thursday.

Moody’s Investors Service dropped Kansas from its second-highest bond rating, Aa1, to its third highest, Aa2. The Kansas Department of Transportation also took the same downgrade.

As Businesweek explained, “the immediate effect has been to blow a hole in the state’s finances without noticeable economic growth.”

I have a soft spot in my heart for Kansas thanks to my annual pilgrimage to the William Inge Theatre Festival in Independence.  It’s your typical Midwestern small town in the prairie with nice people.  They’re not hard-core wingnuts… at least the ones who show up to support theatre and the legacy of one of their hometown boys even if he was gay.  They are conservative, but not so crazy that they couldn’t elect a Democrat as governor in 2002 and again in 2006: Kathleen Sebelius, before she was the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

So it’s really painful to see the results of this failed experiment happen to people I like.  But they brought it on themselves; they can’t blame this on the liberals and the Democrats.

If it’s any consolation, Gov. Brownback is about as popular there as a tornado in a trailer park — he’s polling in the low 30’s and is trailing his Democratic opponent — and maybe the voters will decide that they’ve had enough of this right-wing paradise and boot him and his fellow True Believers out.

3 barks and woofs on “Failed State

  1. And now I read this morning that the FBI is looking into the practices (politics) engaged in the office across the hall from the Guv. On company time, no less. So perhaps there’s a chance to right the ship. I care because my grandson lives in KC and will soon be a permanent resident when his wife joins him and goes to work as a high school teacher in the Fall. Two more lefties to add their voices to the call for a reversal of the last years’ “experiment”.

  2. You will be totally surprised to learn that Koch Industries and two of the Koch Brothers are based in Wichita. See what money in politics can do?

    The only reason that Kansas does stupid stuff is that the Koch’s are putting their pet legislators through the loops to prove to them that they are totally loyal.

    All of the flat states that pass stupid laws are Koch owned and directed. That idiot in Wisconsin is a prime example.

    Follow the money. This is not, never has been and never will be a democracy. It is, was and has been an oligarchy ever since the rebellion against the king. Check out the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Not a single working person. All of the top of the 1 percent then. Just tradition.

    • Oil has always been a big industry in Kansas. In the early 1900’s, the town of Independence (see above) had at one time more millionaires per capita than any other city in the country. Harry Sinclair had a house there that is huge even compared to his neighbors. (He also had an aversion to backing up his car, so the garage had a turntable.) It wasn’t because there’s a lot of oil underground there, although there are a number of wells in the region. It was because Independence was the crossroads of a number of oil pipelines.

      Sound familiar?

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