The Predicted Kansas Economic Collapse That Wasn’t

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article on the state of Kansas’s economy post-Governor Brownback’s controversial 2012 tax cuts. If you remember the coverage then, the left went absolutely crazy that the gradual phasing out of state income tax, as well as complete abolition of corporate income taxes on small businesses, would drive Kansas’s economy into a Mad Max-style hellscape.

Not so. According to Andrew Wilson of the Show Me Institute, a Missouri-based free market think tank, writing in WSJ, the state of the state in Kansas is strong. Discussing what many liberal-leaning scare headlines missed about Brownback’s reforms, Wilson writes:

What the news coverage missed was that if Kansas hasn’t exactly catapulted into the front ranks in economic growth and employment, then it has at least moved a long way from the stagnation of recent decades. Consider:

• In March 2013, unemployment in Kansas stood at 5.5%. It has since dropped to 4.2%, tied for 14th lowest in the country.

• From 1998-2012, Kansas ranked 38th in private-sector job growth, according Bureau of Labor Statistics data crunched by the Kansas Policy Institute. In 2013—the first year after the tax reform—the state climbed to 27th place, and in 2014 it moved to 21st, placing it in the top half of states.

• In the second half of 2014, hourly wages in Kansas grew 3.5%, according to BLS data, far faster than the national average of 1.9%.

Then there is the Kansas City metropolitan area, a living laboratory that straddles the border with Missouri. On Mr. Brownback’s side of the divide, the top personal income-tax rate is now 4.9%, beginning at $15,000 for single filers; in Missouri the top 6% rate starts at $9,000.

Brownback has conceded in the piece, as he has elsewhere, that he may have over-promised the short-term benefits of tax reduction (infamously saying that the new rates would be a “shot of adrenaline to the arm” of the state economy), but after three years ordinary Kansans are starting to see the benefits of keeping more of their hard-earned money and smaller, more effective, more efficient government.

More on the success of Kansas tax cuts, and the over-hyping of the state’s miniscule deficit, here, here, here, and here.

Jeb Bush Is Unelectable

(Photocredit: Huffington Post)

Whenever the pundit class and party elites discuss the issue of “electability” in presidential elections, they are usually talking about fringe candidates with small bases of support that more often than not are running only to get a book deal or talk show.

But sometimes the candidate that is deemed unelectable is not only in the top-tier of the race but is perceived front runner. We saw this in the 2008 Republican primary where in the months leading up to the Iowa Caucuses and New Hampshire Primary Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani was considered by all in Washington as the man to beat.

He had locked down a lot of the early money and party support, with the famously pro-choice mayor gaining the endorsement of famous evangelical leader Pat Robertson. However, Giuliani decided to skip the first four caucuses and primaries and instead wait until the Florida Primary. This strategy failed miserably. Giuliani ended up placing a distant third behind Arizona Senator John McCain and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and winning only one delegate during his whole campaign.

Fast forward to 2015 and Jeb Bush. The former Florida governor is being touted as the “establishment choice” among a field of ambitious and talent rivals that include Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, and Florida Senator Marco Rubio, the last of which being a particular threat due to his popularity among the GOP donor class like billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adleson.

And while it is clear that each one of those Republican challengers have their strong backers in the party, it’s not clear what if any support there is for Bush among the grassroots. Whats more, he seems more than willing to openly antagonize them with his support for national education curriculum a-la Common Core and advocacy for liberal immigration policies (I’m in total agreement with the governor on the second policy, by the way, which is much more in line with the pre-Tea Party GOP).

And lately news hasn’t been getting any better for the brother of the last Republican president. After being asked Monday by Fox News’ Megyn Kelly if he would, knowing what he knows now, still decide to invade in Iraq, Bush answered that he would, and adding that so would Hillary Clinton, implying that the governor didn’t understand the question.

And just today at at a town hall-style meeting in Reno, Nevada a college student accused that the former President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq was chiefly responsible for starting ISIS. Here’s a snippet of that exchange.

“It was when 30,000 individuals who were part of the Iraqi military were forced out — they had no employment, they had no income, and they were left with access to all of the same arms and weapons,” Ms. Ziedrich said.

She added: “Your brother created ISIS.”

Mr. Bush interjected. “All right. Is that a question?”

Ms. Ziedrich was not finished. “You don’t need to be pedantic to me, sir.”

“Pedantic? Wow,” Mr. Bush replied.

Then Ms. Ziedrich asked: “Why are you saying that ISIS was created by us not having a presence in the Middle East when it’s pointless wars where we send young American men to die for the idea of American exceptionalism? Why are you spouting nationalist rhetoric to get us involved in more wars?”

Read the whole thing here 

As of now, while the Bush campaign-to-be isn’t quite in full damage control, they certainly can’t be happy about the bad press they’re getting. And while it is still very early in the race (Bush hasn’t even declared for president yet for God’s sake) it is hard to see just what Bush’s path to the nomination is.

Yes, he’s the main establishment candidate. But both Marco Rubio and Scott Walker could easily fill those roads and garner plenty of grassroots to boot. He is skipping the early primaries and ranks very low in most polls, coming in behind Donald “The Donald” Trump in many cases.

And even if he did win the nomination it is likely to be due to massive and unlikely flameout of his other GOP rivals. The general election would not be much easier. It’s tough to see where Bush expands the electoral map beyond the Romney states, which is a proven losing strategy.

And worst of all, a Jeb Bush nomination would kneecap the main argument Republicans have against Hillary Clinton: That she is the past from a politically-dynastic family. And if Americans are forced to choose, they’ll likely go with the dynasty they have fonder memories of, as well as the first woman president, which is Hillary Clinton.

So to put it plainly: Jeb Bush is unelectable.

Senate Democrats abandon Obama on Fast-Track Authority

In a stunning defeat for President Obama, the Senate Tuesday voted down giving the president Trade Promotion Authority (so-called “fast track”) to make it easier to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a massive 11-nation trade deal, without amendments.

By failing to reach the 60-vote threshold to reach cloture and cutoff debate, the bill remains very much in doubt. The upper chamber voted 52-45, with every Democrat voting “no” except for Delaware’s Tom Carper.

The defeat is a big win for the forces of anti-free trade within the Democratic Party, especially Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. Warren has publicly classed the Mr. Obama in the past few days leading up to vote.

It is also a sign that Democrats are struggling to define what they’re party will stand for after the president leaves office in 2017.

Likely 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has largely stayed silent on the TTP and fast-track authority since announcing for president about a month ago. Although, while a member of the Obama cabinet, Secretary of State Clinton strongly backed the free trade deal, indicating she has seen the shifting political winds in her party has changed course.

While the bill is likely to come back up for a vote in the next two weeks before Congress goes on recess, the fate of TPP and the consensus on free trade with in the Democratic Party since the days of Bill Clinton and the largely successful Nafta agreement remains very much in doubht.

Hillary’s Kennedy-LBJ Paradox: If Elected She’ll (Probably) Accomplish More Liberal Goals Than Obama, But She’ll Never Be Loved Like Him

Political writers love to make comparisons between different politicians in different times. How does X politician compare with FDR? Is the Iraq War comparable to Vietnam? Can we really call the IRS Tea Party targeting McCarthyism? Comparisons abound. And in making these lightly theorized analogies, this writer is no exception.

So here is another consideration from history to throw into the mix: If Hillary Clinton wins, and if Democrats regain Congress (the latter proposition probably won’t happen but bear with me), she will probably be quite successful in passing liberal agenda items like immigration reform, climate change legislation, new pro-Big Labor “card-check” rules, and national protections for gays and lesbians against discrimination.

But even if she isn’t as successful as proposed, we can still do a thought experiment. Suppose she get’s all the the aforementioned Democratic initiatives through (regardless of the fact that besides immigration reform they don’t work and violate constitutional liberties) and liberals still loath her like the did Lyndon Johnson.

LBJ did in two years what it took Franklin Roosevelt to do in four terms and what it would have taken John Kennedy to do in 10. He passed Medicare and Medicaid, the Civil Rights and Voting Rights and Fair Housing Rights Acts, passed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, passed Pell Grants, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and opened many new federal regulatory departments and welfare programs. He also cut taxes quite a bit.

And yet, after all this, the left of his own party despised him. Yes, this was mostly because of the disastrous Vietnam War, but that can’t explain everything because the Obama administration has engaged in many more costly wars in Libya, Yemen, and elsewhere. Whether it’s Woodrow Wilson, FDR, Harry Truman, or Bill Clinton, liberals are usually always willing to elect warmongers to the White House if they’ll agree to reduce economic freedom and property rights protection and increase legal plunder through income redistribution to bride voters.

But there are shining moments when the Left puts it’s government greed aside to pick candidates that are genuinely anti-war, like Eugene McCarthy and George McGovern.

Barack Obama, while many consider him in those latter two molds, is much more like JFK, and that’s not necessarily a compliment. By that comparison I mean to say he is considered to be a dove but is really hawk, but is able to portray himself as a dove and capture the imaginations of the electorate. He also did not accomplish much domestically.

His civil rights bill quickly became stalled in the Congress by segregationist Democrats and Republicans skeptical of expanding federal power.

President Kennedy created the Peace Corps, which symbolically is more important than it is actually. Another policy change, unionizing federal employees, would turn out to be fiscal disaster many decades later as we are now experiencing.

Now, as before, contrast that with the Johnson record: liberal and effective at ramming left-wing social welfare legislation through without much debate.

If elected, Hillary would be a classic warmongering hawk in the old Cold War sense. She believes in war as a “humanitarian” cause, like her failed war in Libya. But if she get’s a climate bill through passing or restricting First Amendment liberties with a campaign finance “reform” bill, that would be a liberal dream.

But she will not be loved like Obama. That does not mean she’ll suffer like LBJ. But it does mean that President Obama will defeat her all over again, only this time in the history books and in the memories of the American people.