Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Benefits of Austerity: Basket-Case Kansas

Austerity kills.  But it never even hurts the ones who benefit from it.


When right wing ideologue Sam Brownback became governor of Kansas the first thing he did was enact tax cuts and an austerity budget. He wanted to unleash the "job creators." How's that working out for them? Read this report and weep:
As other states consider large tax cuts, they should heed these key lessons from Kansas:
Deep income tax cuts caused large revenue losses. 
SNIPKansas’ tax cuts this year are costing the state about 8 percent of the revenue it uses to fund schools, health care, and other public services, a hit comparable to a mid-sized recession. State data show that the revenue loss will rise to 16 percent in five years if the tax cuts are not reversed.

The large revenue losses extended and deepened the recession’s damage to schools and other state services. Most states are restoring funding for schools after years of significant cuts, but in Kansas the cuts continue. Governor Sam Brownback recently proposed another reduction in per-pupil general school aid for next year, which would leave funding 17 percent below pre-recession levels. Funding for other services — colleges and universities, libraries, and local health departments, among others — also is way down, and declining.

The tax cuts delivered lopsided benefits to the wealthy. Kansas’ tax cuts didn’t benefit everyone. Most of the benefits went to high-income households. Kansas even raised taxes for low-income families to offset a portion of the revenue loss; otherwise the cuts to schools and other services would have been greater still.

Kansas’ tax cuts haven’t boosted its economy. 

There’s little evidence to suggest that Kansas’ tax cuts will improve its economy in the future. 
Not that there hasn't been ample evidence already that austerity and tax cuts are a lethal, counterproductive combination in an economic slump. Common sense should have told anyone that. But by 2012, there was hardly anyone left who was willing to experiment any more with people's lives. Four long years of recession had left the austerians with nothing more than empty bloviation. But not Kansas. They just kept cutting.

Well, not entirely. There were some people who had to pay up:

I guess that lowest 20% weren't creating enough jobs.

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