Stimulus bill

The yardstick for the Kansas experiment

The yardstick for the Kansas experiment

A politician's boasting should not be the yardstick for policy. As noted by Ed Flentje in the Wichita Eagle: As a newly elected governor in 2011 Brownback embraced the discredited, tax-cut dogma of Arthur Laffer in the belief that tax cuts would dramatically stimulate economic growth. He told a friendly audience that cutting income tax rates would generate even more revenue for government. Soon after, the governor elevated the bluster. His tax cuts would give “a shot of adrenaline in the heart of the Kansas economy.” “We’ll have a real live experiment.” “Look out Texas. Here comes Kansas!” “Glide path…
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Lessons from Kansas tax reform

Lessons from Kansas tax reform

What can the rest of the nation learn from our experience in Kansas? Come to think of it, why haven't we learned much? Economists from American Legislative Exchange Council have looked at Kansas and derived some lessons from our state's struggle with tax reform. The document is titled Lessons from Kansas: A Behind the Scenes Look at America’s Most Discussed Tax Reform Effort. A few remarks and quotations: It may be difficult for us in Kansas to see how the rest of the country views our state. But it's all about the struggle between those who want more government, and…
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How would higher Kansas taxes help?

How would higher Kansas taxes help?

Candidates in Kansas who promise more spending ought to explain just how higher taxes will -- purportedly -- help the Kansas economy. Are low taxes important to an economy, especially a state economy? When the Tax Foundation looked at the issue, it concluded this: "In this review of the literature, I find twenty-six such studies going back to 1983, and all but three of those studies, and every study in the last fifteen years, find a negative effect of taxes on growth."[1. McBride, William. What Is the Evidence on Taxes and Growth? Tax Foundation, 2012. http://taxfoundation.org/article/what-evidence-taxes-and-growth.] Many of these studies…
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Kerr’s attacks on Pompeo’s energy policies fall short

We often see criticism of politicians for sensing "which way the wind blows," that is, shifting their policies to pander to the prevailing interests of important special interest groups. The associated negative connotation is that politicians do this without regard to whether these policies are wise and beneficial for everyone. So when a Member of Congress takes a position that is literally going against the wind in the home district and state, we ought to take notice. Someone has some strong convictions. This is the case with U.S. Representative Mike Pompeo, a Republican representing the Kansas fourth district (Wichita metropolitan…
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The Obama tax cuts

In the presidential debate last week, President Barack Obama spoke of his tax cuts: "So at the same time that my tax plan has already lowered taxes for 98 percent of families, I also lowered taxes for small businesses 18 times. And what I want to do is continue the tax rate -- the tax cuts that we put into place for small businesses and families." Are these Obama tax cuts "real" cuts that will lead to economic growth, or just government spending programs in disguise? For tax cuts to be productive in growing the economy, they have to be…
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The true size of the Obama stimulus

When we think of the "Obama stimulus," most people are referring to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. This legislation called for a variety of fiscal stimulus measures estimated to cost $787 billion at the time the law was passed. The reasoning behind the stimulus comes from a school of thinking known as Keynesian economics, which holds that government should actively and aggressively manage the economy, most importantly by stepping up spending when demand is low. Through this deficit spending, it is said that government action can increase employment. This government spending purportedly accomplishes this through a multiplier…
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Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Friday September 9, 2011

A citizen call to action. This month's meeting of Americans for Prosperity, Kansas focuses on the Douglas Place project in downtown Wichita. Event organizers write: "On September 13, 2011 the Wichita City Council will be holding a public hearing to consider approval of millions of dollars of public incentives being offered to the downtown Douglas Place project developers. Monday's meeting will have these topics: Learn about the incentive programs being offered. ... Learn and consider getting involved in this issue as a citizen. ... Consider testifying before the City Council. ... Attend the council meeting to show your support for…
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Obama job plan not likely to help

In order to help the economy President Barack Obama promises to soon reveal a plan to create jobs. Today's preview before a union audience in Detroit didn't provide many details, but based on the president's past actions and guesses as to what the plan is likely to contain, it's unlikely the plan will work. Various news reports and commentary have mentioned these as possible elements of an Obama jobs plan: A tax credit for hiring new workers. Some sources have suggested the plan might use tax credits to pay companies as much as $5,000 per new worker hired. Another estimate…
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Obama’s tax hikes must be resisted

As our nation's leaders consider the possibility of raising income tax rates, we need to be aware of the negative impact of higher marginal tax rates on the economy and make sure we resist the lure of higher taxes. This is especially important even if the new higher tax rates are confined to to the rich. The concept of marginal tax rates is important to understand, as it holds the key to understanding how we can drive economic growth, and how we can kill it, too. President Barack Obama believes he has already cut taxes in the name of economic…
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Corporate jet incentive, or tax dodge, or kids’ safety?

Yesterday President Barack Obama denounced the tax breaks given to owners of corporate jets. Described by MSNBC Television program host Rachel Maddow as a "corporate tax loophole" that allows "giant corporations to dodge their taxes," Obama cast the issue as corporate fats cat vs. kids: "You go talk to your constituents -- the Republican constituents -- and ask them, are they willing to compromise their kids' safety so that some corporate jet owner continues to get a tax break? (Yes, I sometimes watch the leftist television news programs -- so that you don't have to.) Maddow, if you've ever watched…
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Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Tuesday May 31, 2011

Pachyderm to feature DA Foulston. This Friday (June 3) the Wichita Pachyderm Club features Nola Tedesco Foulston, District Attorney for the Eighteenth Judicial District of Kansas, whose boundaries are coincident with Sedgwick County. Foulston's topic will be "An office overview and current events at the Eighteenth Judicial District of Kansas District Attorney’s office." Foulston, a Democrat, was elected to her office in 1988 and has served continuously since then. ... Appearances by speakers other than Republicans at Pachyderm often generate controversy, and this week is no exception. Pachyderm is a Republican club, and the mission statement of the national organization…
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Obama’s spending stimulus failed

The school of thinking known as Keynesian economics holds that government should actively and aggressively manage the economy, most importantly by stepping up spending when demand is low. Through this deficit spending, it is said that government action can increase employment. This government spending purportedly accomplishes this through a multiplier effect, as dollars are spent again and again. The value of the spending multiplier -- is it big or small? -- is an important question. Also, the multiplier effect may be different for government spending versus private spending. Now, we're starting to understand why Keynesian economics doesn't work. Writing in…
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Myth of Obama tax cuts

As the nation's attention is focused on whether Congress will extend the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, some are calling attention to the Obama tax cuts and calling for their extension. These tax "cuts" -- and I use quotes deliberately -- are part of the stimulus bill passed in February 2009. Polls show that very people know of these tax cuts. So what are the Obama tax cuts? There was one program that qualified -- sort of -- as a "cut," and several tax credit programs. More information about these programs from the Obama Administration is at Recovery.gov,…
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Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Wednesday November 17, 2010

Kansas Senator Lee to tax court. State of the State KS reports that Kansas Senator Janis Lee has been appointed by Governor Mark Parkinson to the Kansas State Court of Tax Appeals. Lee is a Democrat from Kensington in northwest Kansas. This action opens another position in the senate -- another three pending vacancies need to be filled due to senators who won election to other offices -- and others are likely to follow as incoming governor Sam Brownback fills his cabinet. Lee scored 13 percent on the Kansas Economic Freedom Index for this year, which is a voting record…
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Wasteful government spending must stop

As part of its campaign against wasteful government spending, Americans for Prosperity Foundation has started a television advertising campaign and companion website to help Americans learn more about the harmful effects of the stimulus plan promoted by President Barack Obama, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. In just a handful of years, AFPF has grown to become "America’s leading conservative grassroots organization," according to a recent article penned by Richard Viguerie. The recent attacks on AFPF by President Obama are evidence of this. According to AFPF President Tim Phillips, "This first ad called 'Hollywood'…
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Stimulus Pushers

If we needed more evidence of President Barack Obama's inclination to shower public treasure on public sector unions, here it is. The Wall Street Journal details some of the ways that last week's mini-stimulus bill is a gift to public sector unions at the cost of everyone else. For example, the portion of the spending dedicated to public schools comes with the requirement that the funds be used to increase school spending. The funds can't be used by states to replace their own spending. The claim that teacher jobs will be lost is false, too. The editorial notes the rapid…
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The stimulus evidence one year on

Last week the Wall Street Journal reported a piece that analyzes whether the Obama stimulus plan, after one year's time, can be judged a success. (See The Stimulus Evidence One Year On) Robert J. Barro, who is professor of economics at Harvard University and a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, writes that the stimulus may be a good deal in the short run -- if the government spends on things that are truly worthwhile. As we've seen, that is not always the case. But Barro says, correctly, that this spending, paid for with borrowed money as it is,…
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Articles of interest

Education, health care, Kansas school funding, unintended consequences. Charter schools: Two studies, two conclusions This Washington Post article looks at two recent studies of charter schools to try and determine whether they perform better or worse than regular public schools. Kansas, in effect, has no charter schools. They're allowed by state law, but local boards of education must approve them. Few are approved, as the education establishment, including the teachers union, is firmly opposed to charter schools. Most charter schools operate on a much lower budget than regular public schools. As Kansas tries to work its way out of a…
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Fake stimulus exposed by Watchdog group

There's a new dog in town, and doing a great job already. In New Mexico, the New Mexico Watchdog reported the story More Than 4,800 New Jobs Created in New Mexico in Less than a Month from Stimulus, According to Obama Administration Data, which is apparently the first news story to notice the glaring errors -- some say fraud -- in stimulus data provided by the government website Recovery.gov. The national Watchdog site then reported $6.4 Billion Stimulus Goes to Phantom Districts. Watchdog.org is a project of the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity. There are state-level watchdogs in…
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Stop spending our future

It's hard to comprehend the spending by the federal government over the last year. The numbers are so large, the spending programs announced so quickly, one after another, that sometimes we need to step back and take a look at the big picture. When we do, it's quite terrifying, especially when we realize that the Obama administration and Congress have several more large programs to pass. A video that places these programs and spending in context is available from StopSpendingOurFuture.org. It's short and to the point. The companion website, a joint effort of The Heritage Foundation and Americans for Prosperity…
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