Kansas Governor-elect Laura Kelly recently took to the pages of USA Today to gloat about her victory and to further misinform America about why she won. In response, Kansas Policy Institute President Dave Trabert took to the pages of USA Today to set the record straight.
To be fair, Kelly does get one thing right. “If you’ve turned on a news program or read a newspaper at any point in the last five years,” she opines, “you may have encountered at least one unflattering story about Kansas, former Governor Sam Brownback, and his ill-conceived, ideologically-driven tax experiment.”
The first part of this quote is exactly right, and it is the reason Kelly was elected. National and local media conspired to pull an Alinsky on the people who stood in her way, Rule #13 to be precise, “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”
The media picked two targets, first Gov. Brownback. The media attacked him and his administration for his tax cuts wildly out of proportion to Kansas’s national relevance. After Brownback moved on, they turned their attention to Secretary of State Kris Kobach.
“Bring civility back to state, national politics,” says Kelly. She can afford to be civil. For the last several years Kelly watched her media allies savage Brownback and Kobach, the latter of whom they labored to portray as a racist and white supremacist. During that time, Kelly said not a word to discourage the media despite the fact that Kelly voted for the Kobach voter integrity bill that made him a national target.
As Kelly sees it, Americans “are sick of leaders scoring political points at the expense of policy,” but that is exactly what she does in a column written for no larger purpose than to discredit tax relief.
Kelly considers the Brownback tax cuts “a disaster for our state, causing or worsening cuts to schools, massive budget deficits, credit downgrades, rural hospitals closing, and a stagnant economy.”
As Trabert points out, however, “[school] funding increased and set several new records, according to the Kansas Department of Education.” The numbers don’t lie, but politicians do.
“Kansas is in its fourth decade of economic stagnation,” adds Trabert. “It’s getting worse as spending explodes and taxes rise. Kelly is proposing more of the same.” Indeed, Brownback launched his tax experiment to address the state’s decades-old stagnation. His first mistake was to do so while Obama was in the White House.
“Kansas did have challenges following tax cuts,” Trabert acknowledge, “but that was mostly self-inflicted; legislators cut taxes and increased spending, while ignoring efficiency opportunities.” He concludes, “We need honest discussion of policy matters but so far, that’s not what we’re getting from Kelly.”