In 2015, Grover Norquist, who has successfully defined unconditional opposition to taxes as the defining tenet of party orthodoxy, waxed enthusiastic about one state in particular that was leading the way for the nation. “Kansas is the future,” he told an interviewer. “Kansas is the model.” Kansas was the state where Sam Brownback, the former congressman who mentored a young staffer named Paul Ryan, implemented supply-side tax cuts that, Brownback promised, would usher in prosperity and fiscal stability.
Now Brownback’s tax cuts have failed so dramatically and incontrovertibly that the state’s Republican legislature overrode Brownback’s veto to eliminate them. Incredibly, a majority of the Republicans in both chambers of the state legislature voted against the tax cuts. In a new interview with Russell Berman, Norquist insists the failure in Kansas does not tell us much at all about anything. “If you’re a Republican looking for a model,” he says, “Kansas is not the model.”
How many more austerity experiments need to be run? There seems to be no limit.
One might think that the economists who designed this now-repudiated plan would have been cast out of the party, or at least embarrassed into rethinking their assumptions. Yet nothing of the sort has taken place. Stephen Moore and Art Laffer, the supply-siders who crafted the failed Kansas experiment, are also taking the lead in designing Donald Trump’s tax plan.Why does this keep happening? Last month we found the answer was, "because fuck you," basically. From that, also, we understand it keeps happening because we continually fail to wrest power away from those who benefit from the fuck you policy. Do we really have to wait around for things to fail so miserably that even the Republicans, as Chait notes there, finally decide to buck the trend? Keep in mind that while we wait for reason, or shame, to prevail, people suffer in the meantime.
The latest failure of the Louisiana legislature to pass a budget follows directly from the fact that Republican members' slavish devotion to Norquist's anti-tax voodoo continues to obtain. They have proven their willingness to sacrifice critical state services and infrastructure in pursuit of an experiment whose conclusion is, by now, settled science. How much more do we have to endure before we become the next "not the model"?