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The Struggle to Vote in Kansas

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We Will Vote
We Will Vote

I would be more sanguine about Trump’s odds of winning the presidency if not for a few nagging thoughts. Hillary Clinton is a plodding centrist, not a natural politician. I’m still unconvinced the electronic voting machines are immune to shenanigans, and Trump is motivated to explore cheating so as to avoid an embarrassing loss. And the GOP has been methodically undermining voting rights in state after state after state. 

Like in Kansas:

The right to vote is turning into a tooth-and-claw saga in Kansas, thanks to right-wing ideologues’ determination to force new voters to produce a passport, a birth certificate or naturalization papers as proof of citizenship.

This is unheard-of in most of the nation, where aspiring voters are required only to swear to being citizens under penalty of prosecution for fraud. But in Kansas, the requirement that citizenship be documented has become a grave electoral impediment that is being challenged on two legal fronts.

In the first, a federal district judge in May ordered the state to register thousands of people who had been denied federal voting privileges because they did not produce proof of citizenship when they tried to register at motor vehicle offices. Judge Julie Robinson ruled that the requirement violated the National Voter Registration Act provision that “only the minimum amount of information” is needed to certify a voter. The state is appealing her ruling.

Judge Robinson found that 18,372 qualified voters had been unfairly barred from federal elections — about 8 percent of new applicants. She also found that between 1995 and 2013, there were only three instances in Kansas when noncitizens had voted. This was a humiliating setback for Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who has been a major proponent of the Republican fantasy that voter fraud is rampant.

A separate lawsuit, also in Kansas and brought by voting rights groups, is focused on a brazen attempt to force prospective voters to provide proof of citizenship in state elections as an addendum to the federal government’s voter registration form.

So goes the weakened state of democracy in Kansas. As the courts thrash through the Republicans’ “voter fraud” myth, it is shocking that thousands of qualified Kansans still have no certainty that they will be allowed into the voting booth.

(click here to continue reading The Struggle to Vote in Kansas – The New York Times.)

We can all laugh and roll our eyes at the thought of President Trump, and yet…

Written by Seth Anderson

July 7th, 2016 at 8:24 am

Posted in government,politics

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Why Healthcare Companies Are Leaving Kansas for Missouri

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Remembering Your Infinite Course
Remembering Your Infinite Course

And speaking about why Donald Trump is the Republican Party of 2016, and how belief in Voodoo Economics is the underpinning of the GOP con, there is the real world example of Kansas. A Tea Party governor, a Tea Party legislature, and free reign to implement all those Koch and ALEC inspired schemes for going on five years now. 

Sliding north, we find ourselves in the failed state of Kansas, now in the fifth year of the Brownbackian Dark Ages, as such things are reckoned. Somehow, the fact that Kansas’ status as a supply-side lab rat has dropped the state down a political garbage chute the likes of which hasn’t been seen since they shredded the Articles of Confederation is beginning to seep under the guardhouses of the gated communities. The head of a healthcare company is fleeing to the Missouri border and he’s not shy about telling the world why. 

From Pathfinder Health Innovations CEO Jeff Blackwood

It wasn’t just that Brownback was conservative; it was that he is seen as a tool of the Koch brothers and ALEC, a conservative think tank and lobbying organization. Brownback used his influence and funding to eliminate “moderate” republicans from the Kansas legislature and install his hand-picked conservative cronies. He couldn’t do the same with the Kansas Supreme Court, which has ruled a number of the conservative legislature’s laws as unconstitutional, so Brownback’s administration decided to threaten to cut off funding to the court system and is actively pursuing legislation to impeach the Supreme Court.

Kansas has become a test center of “trickle down” economics, espoused by economist Arthur Laffer during the Reagan years. Nowhere has there been as thorough an implementation of Laffer’s policy recommendations… and nowhere has there been as dramatic a failure of government. Under Brownback’s direction, Kansas implemented an unprecedented tax cut in 2012, eliminating taxes for LLCs and professional firms (for full disclosure, PHI is a C Corporation) and making the largest cuts in the highest tax brackets. He shifted taxes to create a heavier burden on property and sales taxes, which typically represent a larger burden on lower income brackets. Brownback declared that this tax cut would be a “shot of adrenaline” for the Kansas economy, but the reality is that the tax cuts have had the opposite effect. Kansas lags neighboring states in job growth. For 11 of the last 12 months, Kansas has dramatically missed revenue targets, falling deeper in debt and facing another round of degraded bond ratings.

The worst part is that the burdens for the shortfalls rest on the shoulders of those who can least afford it – children and the developmentally disabled.

This guy says it flat out–Brownback has engineered the failure of government in Kansas to prove to himself and to the world that government inevitably fails. It’s not often that you see it made that plain, and now it’s time to point out that enough voters in Kansas showed up and re-elected this cluck in what only can be seen now as a suicide pact.

 

(click here to continue reading Why Healthcare Companies Are Leaving Kansas for Missouri.)

Discarded Cautions
Discarded Cautions

and a brief refresher of the Return of Voodoo Economics from Paul Krugman:

During his failed bid for the 1980 Republican presidential nomination George H. W. Bush famously described Ronald Reagan’s “supply side” doctrine — the claim that cutting taxes on high incomes would lead to spectacular economic growth, so that tax cuts would pay for themselves — as “voodoo economic policy.” Bush was right. Even the rapid recovery from the 1981-82 recession was driven by interest-rate cuts, not tax cuts. Still, for a time the voodoo faithful claimed vindication.

First, voodoo economics has dominated the conservative movement for so long that it has become an inward-looking cult, whose members know what they know and are impervious to contrary evidence. Fifteen years ago leading Republicans may have been aware that the Clinton boom posed a problem for their ideology. Today someone like Senator Rand Paul can say: “When is the last time in our country we created millions of jobs? It was under Ronald Reagan.” Clinton who?

Second, the nature of the budget debate means that Republican leaders need to believe in the ways of magic. For years people like Mr. Ryan have posed as champions of fiscal discipline even while advocating huge tax cuts for wealthy individuals and corporations. They have also called for savage cuts in aid to the poor, but these have never been big enough to offset the revenue loss. So how can they make things add up?

Well, for years they have relied on magic asterisks — claims that they will make up for lost revenue by closing loopholes and slashing spending, details to follow. But this dodge has been losing effectiveness as the years go by and the specifics keep not coming.

(click here to continue reading Voodoo Economics, the Next Generation – The New York Times.)

Written by Seth Anderson

June 16th, 2016 at 12:45 pm

How Brownback Is Relying On Obamacare To Close Kansas’ Huge Budget Hole

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Don't Fool With Fools Who'll Run Away
Don’t Fool With Fools Who’ll Run Away.

Oh, Kansas, you so crazy – you elected this clown twice!

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) is calling all hands on deck to fix his state’s huge self-imposed budget crisis, which nearly cost him re-election this year, and the staunch conservative is now receiving an assist from an unlikely source: Obamacare.

The state’s well-documented budget troubles came after Brownback’s dramatic reductions in taxes since taking office in 2011. With its revenue drying up and cash reserves depleted, Kansas is staring at a $280 million hole in its $6.4 billion FY 2015 budget, which ends in June.

Brownback offered his proposal for closing that hole last week, a mixture of spending cuts and transferring funds from other parts of the budget to fill it. And second biggest of those transfers is $55 million in revenue from a Medicaid drug rebate program that was bolstered under the Affordable Care Act.

The short version then is this: Obamacare is helping Kansas address its fiscal crisis — even if Brownback’s administration seems loath to admit it.

(click here to continue reading How Brownback Is Relying On O-Care To Close Kansas’ Huge Budget Hole.)

I'm With Stupid
I’m With Stupid

No worries, Kansas will turn into Somalia soon enough, Governor Brownback has 4 more years of wrecking the state’s economy to prove Republican talking points about economics are faith-based. As long as you don’t live in Kansas, or near Kansas, or have any dealings with Kansas, or live in the same country as Kansas, you should be ok…

Two years ago Kansas embarked on a remarkable fiscal experiment: It sharply slashed income taxes without any clear idea of what would replace the lost revenue. Sam Brownback, the governor, proposed the legislation — in percentage terms, the largest tax cut in one year any state has ever enacted — in close consultation with the economist Arthur Laffer. And Mr. Brownback predicted that the cuts would jump-start an economic boom — “Look out, Texas,” he proclaimed.

But Kansas isn’t booming — in fact, its economy is lagging both neighboring states and America as a whole. Meanwhile, the state’s budget has plunged deep into deficit, provoking a Moody’s downgrade of its debt.

There’s an important lesson here — but it’s not what you think. Yes, the Kansas debacle shows that tax cuts don’t have magical powers, but we already knew that. The real lesson from Kansas is the enduring power of bad ideas, as long as those ideas serve the interests of the right people.

Why, after all, should anyone believe at this late date in supply-side economics, which claims that tax cuts boost the economy so much that they largely if not entirely pay for themselves? The doctrine crashed and burned two decades ago, when just about everyone on the right — after claiming, speciously, that the economy’s performance under Ronald Reagan validated their doctrine — went on to predict that Bill Clinton’s tax hike on the wealthy would cause a recession if not an outright depression. What actually happened was a spectacular economic expansion.

(click here to continue reading Charlatans, Cranks and Kansas – NYTimes.com.)

Puzzle of Puzzles
Puzzle of Puzzles

and as long as the morons in Washington don’t follow Brownback’s lead:

Remember, as far as Brownback is concerned, he has a popular mandate from the Kansas electorate. He ruined the state’s finances, won a second term, and sees no need to change course. So, predictably, he’s keeping the tax breaks that didn’t work and slashing public investments even deeper, since this is entirely consistent with the agenda endorsed by voters.  

Shortly after the election, Brownback’s budget director said the administration “has no intention of revisiting the state’s tax policy.” Of course not. Why would failure need to be revisited?  

Postscript: Two years ago, incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said of Brownback’s radical economic experiment, “This is exactly the sort of thing we want to do here, in Washington.” Something to keep in mind.

(click here to continue reading Brownback scrambles to clean up his mess | MSNBC.)

Written by Seth Anderson

December 15th, 2014 at 9:47 am

Posted in politics

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