Monday, September 15, 2014

GOP/Tea Party "Experiment" in Kansas Facing Voter Revolt

GOP's Sam Brownback
As readers know too well, in my view anyone who votes for today's Republican Party falls into one of several categories; (i) flaming racist whites, (ii) religious extremists who seek to undermine the U.S. Constitution protections for non-far right Christians, (iii) greed driven individuals who care nothing for the common good, and (iv) cretins who are easily duped into voting against their own economic best interest, usually because of their sympathies ti one of more of the first three categories.  In Kansas four years ago, these motivations saw former GOP Senator Sam Brownback elected as governor and the passage of a GOP dream legislative package that slashed taxes for the wealthy and likewise slashed funding for public education (always a target for Christofascists like Brownback) and other government services.  Instead of bringing a promised economic boom, the voodoo economics so loved by the GOP has brought disaster.  A piece in the New York Times looks at the situation in Kansas which is a harbinger to what the GOP would seek to wreak on the country at the national level.  Here are highlights:
In his 40 years living in Kansas, Konrad Hastings cannot remember voting for a Democrat. He is the type who agonizes over big purchases, trying to save as much money as possible. He is against stricter gun laws, opposes abortion in most cases and prefers less government involvement in his life.

But when he casts his ballot for governor in November, he plans to shun the leader of this state’s conservative movement, the Republican incumbent, Sam Brownback, and vote for the Democratic challenger.

“He’s leading Kansas down,” said Mr. Hastings, 68, who said he voted for Mr. Brownback four years ago, when he easily won his first term. “We’re going to be bankrupt in two or three years if we keep going his way.”

Although every statewide elected official in Kansas is a Republican and President Obama lost the state by more than 20 points in the last election, Mr. Brownback’s proudly conservative policies have turned out to be so divisive and his tax cuts have generated such a drop in state revenue that they have caused even many Republicans to revolt. Projections put state budget shortfalls in the hundreds of millions of dollars annually, raising questions of whether the state can adequately fund education in particular.

In some ways, it is unsurprising that many Kansas Republicans have turned on Mr. Brownback. This is a state that once had a tradition of centrist Republicans, like former Senator Bob Dole, and has had five Democratic governors over the past half-century.

But much of this moderation went by the wayside as Mr. Brownback and conservative majorities in the Legislature turned the state into a laboratory for the policies they had run on. In addition to passing the largest income tax cuts in state history, they have made it easier to carry guns in public buildings, turned over management of Medicaid to private insurance companies, made it more difficult to get an abortion, and made it harder to qualify for public assistance.

Even some of Kansas’ staunchest Republicans have found some of these measures to be too far to the right. More than 100 current and former Republican elected officials have endorsed Mr. Davis [Brownback's Democratic challenger].

The governor has painted Mr. Davis as a supporter of President Obama who wants to raise taxes and force the president’s health care law on Kansans.

Mr. Davis has hammered away at the “governor’s economic experiment,” as he put it in a debate held at the State Fair, saying it had left Kansas with a vast budget deficit. “It’s damaging our schools. It’s hurting our economy. It’s jeopardizing our future,” he said.

Mr. Brownback has also been set back by matters unrelated to lawmaking. The Topeka Capital-Journal reported in April that federal authorities were investigating the fund-raising and lobbying activities of some of his associates.

Based on decreased revenue from the tax cuts, the state’s nonpartisan legislative research department estimates that the budget will have to be adjusted by $1.3 billion, either through spending cuts or additional revenue, over the next five years in order to remain balanced.

Opponents of the governor have used this to stoke fears that he would cut vital services. Both Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s have downgraded Kansas’ credit rating.

There's more to the article that deserves a full read, however, the take away is that if one doesn't want to see a similar disaster at the national level, one cannot be complacent and sit home in November.  It is critical that people get out and vote against every GOP candidate on their ballot.

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