Kansas Kills Trump-Like Tax Cuts in 'Repudiation of Right-Wing Orthodoxy'

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Kansas Kills Trump-Like Tax Cuts in 'Repudiation of Right-Wing Orthodoxy'

The cuts had devastating effects on the state's public services

"If facts could kill the myth of trickle-down tax cuts, I'd have given the eulogy at its graveside lo these many years ago," writes Jared Bernstein. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/cc)

In a move characterized as a decisive rejection of a right-wing experiment that closely resembles the tax proposals President Donald Trump has touted for months, Kansas lawmakers overrode a veto by Republican Governor Sam Brownback on Tuesday night in order to roll back existing tax cuts and prevent cuts that were scheduled for the near future.

"Congratulations to Kansas for voting to roll back outrageous tax cuts for the wealthy that devastated the state."
—Sen. Bernie Sanders
Kansas Republicans have, for the last several years, been forced to contend with how the tax cuts—passed in 2012 as part of what Gov. Brownback called a "real live experiment"—have devastated the state's public services, particularly education and healthcare.

As such, the lawmakers' actions on Tuesday were, for many, worthy of applause.

"Congratulations to Kansas for voting to roll back outrageous tax cuts for the wealthy that devastated the state," Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) wrote on Twitter in response to the news.

In statement released on Wednesday, Nick Johnson of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) joined lawmakers and activists in celebrating the move, calling it a "striking repudiation of far-right wing economic orthodoxy."

"Kansas's five-year experiment shows us what happens when we try to tax-cut our way to prosperity," Johnson added, "but the legislature's action reminds us that we have other options."

Tuesday's vote also presented a chance to consider what may be on the horizon as the Republican Party, with Trump at the helm, gears up to craft legislation that would slash taxes for the wealthiest Americans.

If Kansas is any guide, analysts have noted, such a move could prove disastrous.

"Kansas's five-year experiment shows us what happens when we try to tax-cut our way to prosperity."
—Nick Johnson, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
"I've long argued there's just no evidence to support the claims made by the trickle-downers," wrote Jared Bernstein, a senior fellow at CBPP, in an op-ed for the Washington Post. But, he added, "If facts could kill the myth of trickle-down tax cuts, I'd have given the eulogy at its graveside lo these many years ago."

On the question of whether Trump or Republicans on Capitol Hill will learn from the Kansas experiment, Bernstein sounded a pessimistic note.

"It is not immaterial that the same folks who pushed the Kansas cuts are behind the Trump cuts," he observed. "In Kansas, to better serve the vast majority of their constituents, policymakers said 'no' to that cynical play. I hope I'm wrong, but in D.C., I fear the will of the majority to represent those outside the top 1 percent is not nearly so strong."

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