Kansas GOP Insider (wannabe): What's Eating Sam Brownback?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

What's Eating Sam Brownback?

National Review ran Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback through its journalistic meat grinder and delivered a sausage full of a lot of gristle.

Honestly, the magazine, which used to rank among my favorites, is losing conservative steam as it becomes a propaganda machine for the Republican Establishment. Disappointing.

The article, "What's Right with Sam Brownback" is not journalism at its finest. It's public relations for a future Brownback Presidential run. For several reasons and some which aren't political, I don't think he has a chance in 2016 or 2020 or ever. (He's too short, for starters.)

John J. Miller managed to interview a handful of Republicans -- surely all handpicked by the center of the article itself, Brownback -- and write a glowing report of our Governor.

I wish the author would have thought to find a few conservative activists to tell another part of the story. Miller completely glossed over Brownback's tax policy, which gifted a tax increase to all Kansans this summer.

From the article: "In June, the governor signed legislation to drop the top individual rate in Kansas to 3.9 percent by 2018, down from 6.45 percent when he took office. It will fall further, based on a formula, if the state meets certain revenue requirements. In time it could hit zero. To compensate, Brownback had to lock in the sales tax at 6.15 percent, a hike compared with three years ago, when it was 5.7 percent, but lower than 6.3 percent, a rate that his predecessor, a Democrat, had sold as a “temporary” measure during a budget crunch."

While the article calls the move a step down the income tax ladder, you'll note the author isn't as specific about those steps, because they haven't happened yet. This is how all tax increases typically begin -- we'll increase now but cut later, the politicians promise. 

Meanwhile, the article underhandedly sings the praises of the great Missouri-Kansas Border War. (I've written about it before here.) This is the process by which the Kansas Government takes money from the middle class and gives it to big businesses so they will move their headquarters or operations across the street from Missouri into Kansas. The subsidies allow Brownback to crow about "creating jobs," but brother, please. Those jobs already existed and the same Kansans (those on the KS-MO border) continued to have the same access to them. 

I appreciated Brownback's lip-service to the Libertarians. Brownback said of Kansas Republicans, "We're more of a traditional Republican party now. We're dominated by conservatives and we have a moderate wing and a good section of libertarianism. I'm driving down the middle of the right side of the road."

Only, I don't think it's particularly accurate. From support for wind subsidies to the aforementioned Border War, I struggle to find a single libertarian ideal on Brownback's agenda. (The exception is, of course, the proposed move to a flatter, fairer tax, but that hasn't actually happened yet. And where this person is concerned, actions matter more than words.) A more accurate description of Brownback may be that he's driving down the center of the Establishment lane of the Republican Party.

Brownback's OK, and I'm glad  he's getting some good press. However, I expect more from my politicians and my political periodicals.

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