Monday, December 22, 2014

Behold, The Kansas Economic Miracle

When Kansas governor, Sam Brownback enacted his tax cut scheme, he and his conservative allies argued there would be two significant and beneficial results. The first was that these tax cuts would generate more revenues. 
Brownback said he thought the tax breaks would generate enough economic growth to ward off major cuts to "core" government services, including schools and public safety programs.
"I think the growth will come before the cuts come."

Sadly, that didn't exactly pan out. Who would have thought that when you allow people to pay lower taxes, it would result in...lower taxes?

Ah, but that's okay, say Brownback advocates. For you see, the other positive side effect - which they currently argue is now the only thing that actually matters -  from the tax cuts would be massive job growth. Here's the father of supply side doctrine, Art Laffer making the case:
The states that cut their taxes really outperform the states that raise them," Laffer said. "People will see that. It's really hard to balance a budget on the backs of unemployed, and people really do leave states when that's tried. Look, the problem with cutting taxes is that you are going to suffer short-term losses in revenues. When you raise taxes you think you've got a windfall. Then in a few years, you’re Detroit. Kansas, by contrast, is going to do very well. Kansas City is going to be located in Kansas, not Missouri, if you give it a couple years."
It's interesting Laffer admits that tax cuts will cause short-term revenue losses, considering he's argued the exact opposite for his entire career as an economist. It probably would have been nice if he had mentioned that to Brownback before he signed those into law.

But what about his claim on job growth? Unfortunately that didn't go according to plan either:

The new Kansas jobs numbers were released Friday morning, bringing horrible news to state taxpayers and Gov. Sam Brownback.

The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the total number of nonfarm jobs in Kansas fell by 4,100 in November.

Kansas’ disturbing experience was at odds with how much of the rest of the country did. A total of 37 other states gained in employment in November, while only 13 others, including Kansas, dropped.
Missouri boosted employment by 4,500 in November, for instance, while Oklahoma gained 3,400 jobs. Two other neighbors, Nebraska and Colorado, were among the job losers, though not close to the number shredded in Kansas.

Laffer is correct that you can't balance a budget on the backs of the unemployed (of which there are 4,100 more in Kansas now). And while it's possible that Missouri might not look too hot in the future, it's currently doing better than Kansas is:

 However, Friday’s federal figures now show the state has added only a meager 12,200 total jobs for the first 11 months of the year. That’s barely more than 1,000 a month, and a growth rate of under 1 percent for the year. Missouri, by contrast, has a more robust 1.6 percent growth rate for 2014.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/yael-t-abouhalkah/article4668108.html#storylink=cpy
Missouri had both a better November and a better year overall than Kansas, despite the latter being a right-wing utopia at this point.

As if those numbers weren't embarrassing enough, there was one other interesting bit of data from the BLS report:

The biggest job gains occurred in California, which added 90,100 jobs in November, followed by Florida, which gained 41,900. Texas added the third-most jobs, with 34,800.

Yes, the high tax dystopia that is California added 90,100 jobs, not only annihilating Kansas' pitiful performance, but also creating almost three times more jobs than even the mighty Republican economic oasis that is the great state of Texas. Texas! Mind you, those numbers for California aren't just good, they're also the second largest gain the Golden State's had since 1990.

How in the world is such a thing possible? If we were to believe Brownback, Laffer and the entire conservative intelligentsia, freedom loving, pro-business states like Kansas should be economic powerhouses, while socialist, blasphemous states like California should resemble post apocalyptic wastelands.

There is only one logical explanation: Obviously, Jesus has forsaken conservatives in Kansas for not cutting taxes enough.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Buzzkill States Sue Colorado Over Marijuana Legalization

So much for states' rights:
In the most serious legal challenge to date against Colorado's legalization of marijuana, two neighboring states have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down the history-making law.

Nebraska and Oklahoma filed the lawsuit directly with the nation's highest court on Thursday. The two states argue in the lawsuit that, "the State of Colorado has created a dangerous gap in the federal drug control system."

"Marijuana flows from this gap into neighboring states, undermining Plaintiff States' own marijuana bans, draining their treasuries, and placing stress on their criminal justice systems," the lawsuit alleges.
 Indeed, these blood red states insist that all states must submit to the will of the federal government:
Nebraska and Oklahoma's complaint argues that Colorado does not have authority to pass laws that conflict with the federal prohibition on marijuana. Doing so, the states claim, violates the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
I'm sure James Madison will no doubt be pleased to hear that Nebraska and Oklahoma finally came around.

But there were also other reasons these states had for bringing forth this suit:
But much of the complaint focuses on harms the two states say have come to them as a result of legal pot sales in Colorado. The lawsuit says the states have suffered increased costs from arrests, the impoundment of vehicles, the seizure of contraband, the transfer of prisoners, and other problems associated with marijuana — which is strictly illegal in the two states — flowing into Nebraska and Oklahoma. The states say the problems amount to "irreparable injury."
The lawsuit does not cite any figures to back up the claims.
Color me shocked.
News stories since Amendment 64's passage have repeatedly noted the complaints of law enforcement officers in neighboring states that marijuana legalization in Colorado is straining their budgets. For instance, the police chief in Sydney, Neb., told a television station this year that half of his department's traffic stops now result in a marijuana arrest. He said the department burned through its yearly overtime budget in six months, mostly paying officers overtime to go to court to testify in marijuana prosecutions.
You know would probably help save money and resources, Chief? Not having to go after these people in the first place. It seems the problem isn't that pot is legal in Colorado, but rather, it's still illegal in Nebraska. 

This lawsuit seems worth keeping a close watch on.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Florida Republican Wants To Mandate Anti-Obama Film In Classrooms

Another day, another idiot Republican making the state of Florida look bad:

An effort to require students in Florida public schools to watch a controversial documentary by conservative pundit Dinesh D'Souza gained ground this week with the support of a state House member.

Rep. Neil Combee, a Lakeland Republican, filed a bill seeking to mandate that all eighth- and 11th-grade students view the film America: Imagine the World Without Her. His legislation is identical to a measure filed by Sen. Alan Hays in November.
Indoctrination is bad. Unless of course, it's the Right kind of indoctrination. Remember, kids. Like with everything in life, it's okay if you're a Republican.

While D'Souza's latest opus is an inflammatory, straw man laden, example of right-wing propaganda, it's also just simply a pretty terrible movie.

Also, too. Any time this wretched movie is brought up, I have to provide a link to a thoroughly enjoyable thrashing by David Corn and Tom Ashbrook. Those two provide some very entertaining tag team action against D'Souza and his inane, nonsensical arguments.

Sam Brownback Finds Some Ways To Mitigate The Economic Damage He's Inflicted On Kansas

Since we last saw Kansas Governor, Sam Brownback, he was trying to convince everyone that his disastrous tax cut policy wasn't so disastrous that it required any change in direction or anything. Last week, Kansas media outlets reported that Brownback's found some alternate, much more preferable solutions to close the budget gap (via brother Benen):

Gov. Sam Brownback plans to transfer $95 million from the state highway fund and cut the budgets of state agencies by 4 percent to help plug a budget deficit.
 
State agencies will see their budgets reduced by 4 percent from January through June, resulting in about $79 million in savings. The state will also transfer $201 million from dedicated funds, including the highway fund, into its general fund.
 The fun doesn't stop there. Brownback also wants to raid Kansas' public employees pension funds:

The plan drew immediate, bipartisan criticism from state Senate leaders because it would divert $41 million from the pension system for teachers and government workers. Obligations to retirees over the next two decades are only 60 percent funded, and that figure was expected to climb over time thanks to a 2012 law that increased both the state’s and employees’ contributions to stabilize the system’s long-term health.
 
“It reneges on the commitment that was made,” said Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, a Topeka Democrat.
 
In his successful re-election campaign, Brownback pointed repeatedly to the pension fixes – which promised full funding of its obligations in 2033 – as a major accomplishment.

I'm sure Brownback feels terrible about having to resort to such things. But here's my favorite line:

“It’s kind of, uh, well where are you going to go for the funds? And I don’t like it, but it’s kind of what’s your other option if you don’t hit K-12 and higher ed with allotments?” Brownback said.

 Well, uh, I dunno. I mean, uh, I'm just spitballing here, but maybe, uh, we could probably start by reversing the uh, useless and idiotic tax policies that caused this mess in the first place?

Read more here: http://www.kansas.com/news/politics-government/article4413431.html#storylink=cpy
 
 

Yes, I'm Still Alive

Sorry about being worse than usual when it comes to updates. Had lots of real world issues to deal with these past couple of weeks. Fortunately, those problems have been taken care of so I can (hopefully) go back to blogging at a normal rate again. Fingers crossed!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Poll: Half of All Republicans Agree With Gruber That The American People Are Indeed Stupid

Republicans have been absolutely furious at Jonathan Gruber's secret remarks about the American people being "stupid". But you know who else thinks the American people are stupid? Republicans.

Thirty-two percent (32%) of Likely U.S. Voters agree that the American people are too stupid to understand the true costs associated with Obamacare, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone poll. Just 52% disagree and another 16% are not sure.

...

Sixty-two percent (62%) of Democrats and voters not affiliated with either major party by a 47% to 33% margin say the American people are not too stupid to understand the actual costs associated with Obamacare. Republicans are evenly divided on the question.
Since his comments were leaked, Jonathan Gruber has turned into history's greatest monster. Yet for some strange reason, half of Republicans seem to concur with Herr Gruber. Imagine that.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Rush Limbaugh Thinks Stephen Colbert's Audience Was Laughing WITH Him

Apparently some things are too subtle for El Rushbo:

RUSH: Grab audio sound bite number one. Last night it was Comedy Central, and it was Colbert Report. I always do that, the Colbert Report. And it was time to make fun of your host, El Rushbo, for my take on the meaning of the election.

LIMBAUGH: The biggest and perhaps the most important mandate a political party has had in the recent era, and it is very simple what that mandate is: It is to stop Barack Obama. Republicans were not elected to govern.

COLBERT: Thank you. Republicans were not elected to govern. Their one job -- (applause) -- huge, huge Rush Limbaugh fans here tonight. (cheers) Republicans were not elected to govern. Their one job is to stop Obama.

RUSH: And that got practically a standing ovation on Comedy Central last night, totally shocking the host, and once again, demonstrating the whole world agrees with me on this. It just does. It's a great validation.

Rush seems to understand, unlike many on the right, that Colbert is not in fact, a genuine conservative, but doesn't seem to grasp the possibility that the people cheering in the audience, probably weren't doing so as legitimate fans. If they were, don't you think they'd probably be booing when they realized Colbert was making fun of Rush?

But hey, don't take my word for it. Watch the segment below and judge for yourselves:

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

More Good Economic News For Kansas

Heck of a job, Brownback:

Kansas will collect $1 billion less in revenue in 2015 and 2016 than its projected expenses following massive income tax cuts signed into law by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback.

The new revenue estimates released Monday revealed that Kansas would burn through about $380 million in reserves and still need to cut $280 million to balance its current budget for fiscal year 2015, which ends next June 30.

The problem continues in 2016 when revenues are projected to run $436 million short of expenditures, the estimates show.
Now yes, that sounds pretty bad, and you would think that the state should be doing something to make it less bad, but Brownie thinks the state's finances are doing just fine thank you very much:

Brownback’s budget director, Shawn Sullivan, said the administration has no intention of revisiting the state’s tax policy, which calls for further income tax cuts through 2018.

Sure, the original point of enacting the tax cuts was that they would supposedly create more revenue (because that is a thing that actually happens in reality, of course) , but just because it failed to achieve its primary goal doesn't mean we need to change course!

My favorite part from the report is this:

The state of Kansas must continue to live within its means just as families do every day,” Sullivan told reporters Monday. “Our primary focus will be to curtail growth in state spending through additional efficiencies and policy proposals.”
For those of you who aren't familiar with why trickle-down policies are not really held in a positive light by liberals, this is it. Republicans enact tax cuts that kill the revenue stream, which makes it difficult to pay for services, which Republicans then shed crocodile tears for and say "Welp, guess we gotta gut all these wonderful poverty programs. What a shame".

This is what the Kansas electorate voted for. Again. But hey, at least Brownback never went to a strip club, right?

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/news/government-politics/article3729756.html#storylink=cpy


Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/news/government-politics/article3729756.html#storylink=cpyBrownback’s budget director, Shawn Sullivan, said the administration has no intention of revisiting the state’s tax policy, which calls for further income tax cuts through 2018.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/news/government-politics/article3729756.html#storylink=cpy

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Don't These People Ever Give Up?

Republicans continue to valiantly fight in the war against biology:

Legislation that could “open the door” to creationism in public schools has advanced in the Ohio House, the National Science Education Center warns.
Ohio’s House Bill 597, approved by the House Rules and Reference committee on Wednesday, would eliminate new multi-state educational standards known as Common Core. But the legislation contains language that could allow school districts to teach creationism or intelligent design in science classes.

As originally written, the bill would have prohibited schools from favoring one “political or religious interpretation” of a scientific fact in favor of another. When asked if that meant schools would be allowed to teach intelligent design alongside the theory of evolution, one of the bill’s sponsor replied that “districts will be able to choose based on their judgment.”
 Realizing that it was a bad idea to admit what the true goal of this legislation was, we get the eventual backpedal:

Supporters of the bill have since walked back their comments. “Nowhere in the bill does it mention creationism,” Rep. Andy Thompson (R-Marietta) said in August.

The idea of teaching creationism/Intelligent Design  in biology classes is one of those things that I'm surprised is actually a thing to begin with. Even if it turned out that the theory of evolution was completely wrong, I don't see how the only correct alternative would be the Bible.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Man Who Doesn't Know How Gravity Works Calls American People "Dumb"

Fox News' Bill O'Reilly was a bit annoyed on his show yesterday at the fact that a recent Washington  Post/ABC News poll had people trusting Democrats to do a better job handling the nations problems than Republicans (39% to 37%). Bill O' of course had an explanation for this:

“There are two primary reasons for the confusion. First, apathy: we are living in a narcissistic time where individual pursuits override the collective good. And secondly:  poor education. As Watters' World proves every week, many American citizens are simply dumb, they don't know anything, and when you don't know anything, you'll buy anything – propaganda rules.
 It's pretty late on my end, so I'll just leave this here:




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