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About three-quarters of Republican state lawmakers who signed Grover Norquist’s notorious anti-tax pledge broke their promise not to raise taxes by approving a budget that will raise $384 million in tax revenue. According to the tally of The Hutchinson News, only six of the state’s 53 lawmakers who have signed either Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform pledge, or the Koch brothers-affiliated Americans for Prosperity pledge, voted against the recently-passed package. Fifteen of the 21 ATR-pledge signers approved of the Senate budget deal or its House version, which the group confirmed to TPM does not meet the standards of their anti-tax promise. Gov. Sam Brownback (R), who is expected to sign legislation, is not among the ATR pledge-signers.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) "choked up" during a private meeting with Kansas House Republicans over discussions on closing the state's $400 million budget deficit. "He got emotional," an unnamed legislator who attended the private meeting said, according to the Topeka Capitol-Journal reported on Wednesday. "He was eager for us to come together as a party."
RaDonna Kuekelhan and her sister, Cathy O’Mara, have spent their whole lives in and around southeast Kansas, a largely rural area wedged up against Oklahoma and Missouri. Long pastoral stretches separate the region’s smattering of ghostly quiet small towns, the depopulated remains of a thriving industrial past. Cathy left the area briefly as a young woman, following a man to Florida, a decision she still regrets.
Surviving a tough reelection race, as Sam Brownback did in Kansas last year, can often be a cleansing experience for a governor. It should certainly bring relief. After all, Brownback managed to earn a fresh nod of support from voters despite a messy first term marked by a fiscal embarrassment of his own making. Yet three months later, the humbling in the heartland goes on, much to the frustration of a Republican governor and one-time presidential contender who hoped to make Kansas the national emblem of conservative governance. Brownback's hard-fought victory on election day won him another four years, but it did nothing to fix the problem that nearly cost him his job: the state's finances.
Grover Norquist—the president of Americans for Tax Reform and the man who for decades has served as conservatives' leading anti-tax zealot —had seemingly found his ideal politician in Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback. After Brownback was elected governor in 2010, he went on a mission to eradicate his state's income tax—slashing rates across the board in two rounds of cuts and setting rates to drop further over the coming years—eventually to zero if everything clicked in place. Norquist loved it. He visited Topeka in 2013 to show his support during Brownback's State of the State address. In an interview with National Review a year ago, Norquist touted Brownback as a strong contender for the 2016 presidential nomination.
Last week, in the Times, David Brooks diagnosed and decried a newish form of prejudice known as “partyism.” Citing the results of a recent study conducted by political scientists, and a recent column by Cass Sunstein, Brooks took stock of a world where research subjects express a much higher willingness to hire people who share their political beliefs, and where an increasing number of Democrats and Republicans say that they would prefer that their children not marry across party lines. Brooks wrote about how, in a “hyper-moralized” political atmosphere, a person’s political affiliation can become “a marker for basic decency.
One of the treasured vanities of my home state of Kansas is the idea that, although we are the nation’s laggards and late-comers in so many ways, there are other departments in which we are way ahead of everyone else, savoring the fast-food treats you will one day savor and debating the issues that you, too, will agonize over before too long. It’s an understandable fantasy for a people who are constantly reminded by the culture at large how lame and uncool they are, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t coming true, for once, in 2014. This week, Kansas may well be the one state that bucks all the national political trends.
Eight days before Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback may lose re-election thanks to the disastrous consequences of his deep tax cuts, the Wall Street Journal has published an apologia for Brownback’s supply side experiment. And if you’re willing to suspend your faculties of observation and critical thinking, you just may find it persuasive. You know you’re in for a real doozy when Allysia Finley, a member of the Journal’s editorial board and the piece’s author, begins by comparing Brownback’s tax cuts with the 19th-century struggle against slavery. “During the 1850s,” Finley writes “Kansas turned into a battleground for a proxy war between abolitionists and slavery supporters. Today, Kansas has become the flash point in another national debate, this one over government’s role in promoting growth.
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