|n.||1.||(Politics) an economic hypothesis, proposed by President Ronald Regan, that large cuts in tax rates would so stimulate the economy that the tax revenue on the increases in business and personal income would offset the anticipated tax revenue losses|
have written several posts about what is going on in Kansas, my old home state. While it has always been a reddish state, it hasn’t always been an irrationally reddish state. But most of the non-nutty Republicans have been chased out of office and replaced by extremists who are engaged in a race to the bottom. One of those extremists is the governor, Sam Brownback.
Not only have Kansas reactionaries further restricted reproductive rights and made it harder to vote, they are on the brink of moving the state back to the 19th century in terms of the size and effectiveness of state government.
Recently a commenter from Kansas wrote to me with the following request:
I…would love for you to do a post over the income tax elimination proposed by the governor from the state of Brownbackistan…I mean Kansas.
He linked to an article in The New York Times, “Kansas’ Governor and G.O.P. Seek to End Income Tax,” which included this:
…lawmakers received a bill to inch the state closer to eliminating income taxes, a centerpiece of a broad legislative vision that many in the Republican Party here hope will serve as a model of conservative governance for other states, if not the nation, to follow.
Kansas a “model of conservative governance“? Well, yes it is. It is a perfect model of what the country would look like if Tea Party conservatives got control of the entire federal government. Let’s begin with the following from the Times article:
This month, the largest tax cut in Kansas history took effect, and most of its Medicaid system was handed over to private insurers. The bill introduced this week would pare taxes further, with the goal of eventually eliminating the state’s individual income tax. Mr. Brownback has already slashed the state’s welfare roll and its work force.
Later in the article we find this about the largest tax cut in Kansas history:
Critics say Mr. Brownback’s tax cut was passed on the backs of low-income Kansans. The bill included the repeal of tax credits for food, rental housing and child care that benefited low-income residents. Because of those repeals, the poorest 20 percent of Kansans will spend an additional 1.3 percent of their incomes, an average of $148 per year, on taxes, according to a report by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. The top 1 percent, meanwhile, will see the share of their income that goes toward taxes drop by 2 percent, or $21,087 per year, the report said.
Let me see. Here’s how Voodoo Economics On The Prairie works: First we cut income taxes on the wealthy, put poor sick children in the hands of profiteers, cut income taxes some more, then eventually eliminate income taxes and kick the poor out the door and fire government employees who aren’t needed because the state isn’t doing anything for anyone except businesses. Got it?
All this is what they are calling in Kansas an “experiment,” you know, sort of like the CIA’s MKUltra project in the 1950s and ’60s. Remember that one? The government conducted experiments with what is politely called “behavioral engineering” but what we all know as mind control.
The subjects of those illegal CIA experiments were, like most of the poor, the sick, and others needing government services in the Kansas experiment, unwitting participants. The idea is to muck with people’s minds and lives and see how it goes. Get it?
Oh, that’s not quite fair. In the Kansas experiment, many of those who will suffer actually voted for the experimenters—Brownback got 63% of the vote in 2010. So, not all of the subjects are unwitting.
In any case, a Wichita Democrat in the state senate said of the Brownbackistan experiment:
It kind of eliminates a large group of Kansans out of that pursuit of happiness. They will still struggle. They’ll pay the highest taxes. They are already working jobs with no benefits or very little benefits.
“Pursuit of happiness“? Who says that “a large group of Kansans,” or anyone else for that matter, is entitled to pursue happiness? What’s that you say? Oh yeah, my bad. I forgot:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.
Do you know what follows those words? Do you know what follows the declaration that there is a self-evident and unalienable right to pursue happiness? These:
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men…
Governments are instituted to secure unalienable rights like the pursuit of happiness. In the Kansas experiment, government is being de-instituted, disestablished, effectively dissolved for many Kansans. And it is being done by people who swear to God that the Founders were close to infallible beings.
The key to that de facto dissolution is taxation. By cutting, or in some cases eliminating, taxes, the government beast can be starved if not to death, at least to the point where it can’t do what it needs to do to make “the pursuit of happiness” real to all people in the 21st century.
And to make matters worse, what taxes remain in effect fall disproportionately on—you guessed it. From The Kansas City Star:
A new study by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy shows Kansas and Missouri, like most the nation, skew their tax burdens toward the upper end on the income scale.
Kansas skews more to the rich than Missouri, and more than the nation as a whole.
I would ask that you look closely at the graph below (supplied by the ITEP) because at first you will think your eyes are lying to you:
If your eyes are working, you can see that the state and local tax burden for the poorest Kansas families is more than two-and-a-half times that of the richest 1% of taxpayers. Oh, but wait. There’s more.
Low wage earners necessarily spend all of their money to live. Thus, this graph shows an even worse burden on them in terms of taxes on spending:
Let’s be clear about all this by getting back to the original point from The New York Times story:
…lawmakers received a bill to inch the state closer to eliminating income taxes…
To replace some of the revenue that would be lost by eliminating income taxes, guess what Brownback wants to do? Sorry, I know that was too easy. He wants to make permanent an increase in the sales tax!
The extremists aren’t content with the wealthiest Kansans not shouldering their share of the burden. No, no, no. They want to make things even easier for the moneyed class by eliminating the tax on their high incomes. And according to Voodoo Economics On The Prairie, all of this will, if we’re patient enough, result in rich people and businesses from all over the country flocking to Brownbackistan to create jobs!
Here’s yet another graph to show how eliminating the income tax will skew the tax burden even more in favor of the affluent in Kansas:
You can see that if income taxes are eliminated, the burden will fall even more on those who have less, or, as per the conservative starve-the-beast scheme, government services will have to be cut even further.*
What we have in Kansas, as I have said, is a race to the bottom. And I do mean race. From the Times article:
Kansas’ tax policy has caught the attention of its neighbors. Gov. Dave Heineman of Nebraska, a Republican, has introduced a bill to eliminate a variety of taxes, including ones on individual income and small businesses. Gov. Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, also a Republican, plans to call for modest income tax cuts, and Missouri lawmakers have discussed reforming their tax code.
Anyone but practitioners of voodoo economics can see that if all the states cut their taxes then any potential economic advantage by one state is erased. All that we will have left are tiny and feckless state governments that fail to secure for their citizens what the Founders said was an unalienable right: the pursuit of happiness.
And, of course, tiny and feckless government is really the point of the voodoo we see.