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“Pure Fanaticism”: Tax-Cutting Sam Brownback Pushing Huge Tax Increase–But Not For His Corporate Friends

As noted at Lunch Buffet, Louisiana Republicans finally caved in to Bobby Jindal’s demands that the state budget he’s screwed up can only be fixed if Grover Norquist goes along. Their counterparts in Kansas have not yet thrown in the towel in their fight to keep Sam Brownback from dragging them and the state to the bottom of fiscal hell. But he’s refusing to bend, and is now pre-blaming legislators for across-the-board budget cuts he says he’ll be forced to impose if solons don’t give him a budget that reflects his fanatical faith in supply-side economics.

According to the Topeka Capital-Journal‘s Tim Carpenter, it’s getting tense in Republican circles in that city, and Brownback even got “choked up” in one meeting with GOP legislators. And that’s understandable. He wants to insulate the out-of-state corporations to whom he’s given a huge tax cut from any budgetary pain, and can’t seem to figure out why legislators don’t just go along with his proposal to hike sales taxes on everybody else. If he’s rebuffed, obviously he has to cut the budget more, right?

Today it looks like Brownback may dry his tears, and in the words of Kansas City Star columnist Yael Abouhalkah, even have the “last laugh:”

Gov. Sam Brownback edged closer early Friday morning to his second greatest victory as the leader of Kansas government.

Shortly after 4 a.m., the House took the spineless way out and approved the largest tax increase in state history.

It was badly needed to fill the huge budget hole created by Brownback’s greatest “victory” — income tax cuts he pushed in 2012 for thousands of businesses.

Those cuts — as everyone knows by now — slashed state revenues by more than $600 million a year, imperiled funding for education and other state services, and caused the Kansas Legislature to continue meeting until Friday, the 113th day of a scheduled 90-day session….

[T]he Kansas Senate has already passed a similar bill to boost the sales tax — by the narrowest of margins last Sunday — but would still have to vote Friday to endorse the House’s action.

If that happens — and let’s hope it doesn’t — Brownback will have succeeded in making the Legislature come up with a solution for a mess he created, and for which he has never taken responsibility.

At least Bobby Jindal has the excuse of wanting really really badly to become President of the United States, and convincing himself his party and constituents owe it to him to help out by gutting their own public services and making a hash of the state tax code. In Brownback’s case, it’s pure fanaticism.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, June 12, 2015

June 16, 2015 Posted by | Kansas, Sam Brownback, Tax Increases | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Only Heterosexuals Served Here”: Seriously, What Is Wrong With Kansas?

Kansas might as well start producing “Only Heterosexuals Served Here” signs for businesses and government offices.

A bill that sailed through the state’s House of Representatives tells Kansans: You can be as discriminatory as you like against homosexuals and the state will have your back. Just be sure and do it in God’s name!

The bill is meeting pushback in the Kansas Senate, but don’t be fooled. This is denial and fear on steroids. It’s happening across the country. And it won’t be the last we’ll hear of such legislative efforts.

The legislation is aimed at civil unions. It’s a pre-emptive strike to ensure that people “with sincerely held religious beliefs” against homosexuality will be able to turn gay couples away if they request flowers for a wedding, a banquet hall for a reception or wish to hire a photographer for their civil ceremony. Also covered are those involved with adoption, foster care, counseling or social services, including government employees. Like a city clerk who might want to cite his Bible to avoid legally recognizing a gay marriage declared valid elsewhere.

The politicians who support this nonsense have no clue what discrimination looks like, feels like or how it has historically has functioned in society. The constant cry rationalizing this bill and similar measures elsewhere is that it is religious conservatives — not homosexuals — who are apt to suffer from discrimination.

Really? I’m doubtful that any has entered a public business to be told that their money is no good there — because they’re a Christian. Nor have they suffered the added humiliation of being slurred as they are shown the door. So the idea of ensuring such denial of public accommodation as a legally protected “right,” something no aggrieved person could ever sue for, feels just dandy to them. Justified, even.

What’s really happening — what’s threatening the religious conservatives of Kansas — is that the general public’s views on homosexuality are shifting. Rapidly.

People under the age of 25 shrugged at the hoopla surrounding All-American lineman Michael Sam’s public announcement that he is gay before the NFL draft. Seventeen states have legalized same-sex marriage so couples can gain the tax benefits, insurance, medical protections and legal responsibilities that straight people have long held. And federal courts have overturned bans against same-sex marriages in Utah and Oklahoma.

So religious conservatives now take up the mantle of a minority. That’s one of the few honest things about this conversation. Their view of homosexuality will soon be (if it is not already) a minority opinion.

Yet they miss crucial points. No government authority — neither the courts nor the executive branch — is telling people that they can’t continue to decry homosexuality. They can quote the Bible to condemn it all they want. Preachers can preach that God has naught but fiery damnation in store for LGBT people. Churches can continue to bar gay couples from marriage and any other sacrament.

But that long-enshrined First Amendment protection of speech and religious freedom isn’t good enough for these folks. No. They want the assurance that they can also run a public business, advertise their services to one and all, and still maintain the right to tell gay people they aren’t welcome. And never face the legal ramifications of a lawsuit, if such a thing could ever transpire in Kansas.

Here’s another overlooked fact. It is legal in much of America to discriminate against gays and lesbians. In many states and cities, a gay person can be fired if a boss takes a disliking to his or her “lifestyle,” and the fired employee has no legal recourse to fight back. Sexual orientation does not enjoy the federal protections of other attributes, such as race, sex, color, religion or national origin.

This backlash is not unlike the many hateful exertions to protect the “Southern way of life” from the threat of civil rights legislation. Certainly, there were, and likely still are, people who opposed the “mixing of the races” on religious grounds.

The Kansas bill’s sponsor points to one clause as a measure of fairness to gays. When an employee of a business or a government office doesn’t want to deal with a gay person, another employee should. Tap the non-homophobe to do the job!

This only underscores the bill’s absurdity, especially from a Christian perspective. Jesus of Nazareth was infamous in his time for supping with prostitutes and tax collectors, and yet these supposedly upright followers of his cannot bear to act with charity and decency in public and commercial life?

To defeat this bill and others like it around the country, a spotlight must be focused on the legislators who back them. Efforts to that effect have already begun in Kansas. But this sort of political hustle won’t die easily. It’s all about ginning up feelings of persecution among so-called “values voters” … over having to surrender the long-held prerogative to persecute. Lacking any grace or humility, these demagogues won’t leave the scene until they’ve discharged all their poison into our politics.

But they will never prevail.

 

By: Mary Sanchez, The National Memo, February 18, 2014

February 19, 2014 Posted by | Discrimination | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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