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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 6/26/16

Here's What's the Matter With Kansas

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In the post, Blackwood points out that Republican Kansas Governor Brownback has worked as an ultraconservative tool of the Koch Brothers and ALEC to make Kansas into "a test center of 'trickle down' economics" where "the burdens for the shortfalls rest on the shoulders of those who can least afford it, children and the developmentally disabled."

He points out that, "One of Brownback's first actions was to close the [city of] Lawrence's office for Kansas Social & Rehabilitation Services," which provided services for low-income children and the developmentally disabled.

That cut was supposed to save $400,000 per year, but Blackwood points out that Brownback chose to pursue "a personal vendetta at the expense of the disabled" when he then proceeded to squander more than $400,000 on lawyers and auditors to attack the Kansas Bioscience Authority.

Beyond that, Blackwood notes that when Brownback privatized Medicaid (which is what Paul Ryan wants to do with Medicare nationwide) the results were even more disastrous for the state.

Blackwood personally saw the impacts as the president and CEO of a private health insurance company, and he points out that the cuts to Kansas' Medicaid program led to significant delays in eligibility, an inexplicable loss of coverage, an increase in caseloads and struggles for providers to get paid.

Blackwood ends his lengthy post saying that, "I can't, in good conscience, continue to give our tax money to a government that actively works against the needs of its citizens; a state that is systematically targeting the citizens most in need, denying them critical care, and reducing their cost of life as if they're simply a tax burden that should be ignored."

A stagnant economy, failing job growth, falling personal income, massive budget shortfalls, loss of healthcare coverage, significant delays in health care services and CEOs who take up stakes and move their businesses across the border: These are the results of Brownback's experiment in rabid "free-market" trickle-down economics.

What's happening in Kansas is no exception though.

ALEC is pushing this broken and cruel "red-state model" of Reaganomics in every state across the country, and they've successfully implemented it to varying degrees in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Florida, Texas, Arizona, West Virginia and the list unfortunately goes on.

There is a proven alternative to the "red state model," though, because California has been running what might be called a "blue state" experiment since 2012 when voters increased the state's top income tax rate to 13.3 percent, the highest in the nation.

In 2014, two years after that tax hike went into effect, California's economy grew by 3.1 percent.

One year later it grew by 4.1 percent, tying with Oregon for the fastest state growth of the year, and resulting in a budget surplus of nearly $900 million.

Of course, conservatives who pretend to understand economics, like Laffer, predicted a disastrous slowdown in growth in California, and they were as wrong about tax hikes California as they were wrong about tax cuts Kansas.

There's a simple lesson here: Assume the opposite of whatever Laffer and his Reagan leftovers predict.

Brownback's experiment has proven that conservative "trickle-down economics" doesn't benefit anyone except the super-rich and large corporations, and it undoubtedly and unnecessarily hurts the poorest and sickest Americans.

If we genuinely want to help low-income Americans, if we want to promote small businesses, if we really want to see our states grow, we need lawmakers across the country to reject the failed ALEC-backed "red state model" and to follow the proven model of raising taxes on the billionaire class and investing in the state economy.

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Thom Hartmann is a Project Censored Award-winning New York Times best-selling author, and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk program on the Air America Radio Network, live noon-3 PM ET. His most recent books are "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight," "Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights," "We The People," "What Would Jefferson Do?," "Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle (more...)

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