The Kansas senator says he knows very well “what people saw happen in Kansas” after passing a tax cut very much like the one Senate Republicans are pushing now. So why would he vote for a repeat? The Associated Press File photo
The Kansas senator says he knows very well “what people saw happen in Kansas” after passing a tax cut very much like the one Senate Republicans are pushing now. So why would he vote for a repeat? The Associated Press File photo

Editorials

Kansans beg Sen. Jerry Moran: ‘Why take this failed experiment nationwide?’

By The Kansas City Star Editorial Board

November 28, 2017 06:15 PM

UPDATED November 29, 2017 07:07 AM

Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran is not just another Republican who has to decide which way to jump on the tax bill. For one thing, his could be the deciding vote. For another, he has already seen, first-hand, during a very painful five years, what will happen if it passes.

At a forum Moran held at the Tasty Pastry in Clay Center last weekend, one of his constituents, Robynn Andracsek, of Olathe, neatly summed up the apparent thinking behind the bill: “Let’s cut taxes for millionaires and billionaires, and then let’s figure out how to pay for it.” Instead, she pleaded with him, “Let’s do a sensible tax cut. This is Kansas. We know the trickle-down experiment doesn’t work. All of our members of Congress from Kansas should know that.”

Should but do not. Or if they do, betray no sign of it.

Every Kansan knows what happened after Gov. Sam Brownback’s 2012 cuts did away with the state income tax for some 330,000 business owners. The governor kept insisting — and in fact, still does — that robust growth and woohoo, jobs galore would result. When that didn’t happen, elected officials kept having to dip into funds set aside for highways and schools just to balance the budget. Finally, this year, lawmakers overrode a Brownback veto and at last repealed the LLC tax break and raised income tax rates.

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That had to happen, as Andracsek reminded Moran, “because we decided we want schools and we want roads.” Knowing all that history, she asked him, “Why would you take this failed experiment nationwide? Our members of Congress should be the ones leading the way for tax reform that actually affects normal people, not just millionaires and billionaires.”

Should but are not.

If Republicans wanted a bill that actually helped, as Andracsek put it, normal people, that’s what they’d have come up with instead of a big, juicy break for the wealthiest families in America and a meager, mixed bag of lollipops and rocks for everyone else. Oh, and then the lollipops disappear after a few years, leaving us with a sack full of ... rocks.

Moran assured voters in Clay Center that “I’m also cognizant of what people saw happen in Kansas.” And even if that weren’t the case, he said, “there is plenty of conversation about Kansas in Washington, D.C.”

Senator, we understand that you want to get something accomplished. But you don’t have the luxury of the ignorance that the president could plausibly claim when just days after his election he went around promising applauding, whistling patrons in one of New York’s best restaurants, “We’ll get your taxes down, don’t worry about it.”

We want to believe you, Senator, when you say, “My goal is to find out which taxes you cut can actually help create more jobs, better jobs, higher-paying jobs … and which ones don’t do that. Not all of them do that.”

“There are still a lot of conversations to be had,” you say.

But please have the toughest one of all with that small-town banker who insists that his top priority is to stay connected to Kansans. It’s to your credit, Senator, that you do get out of your office and listen to constituents, unlike some so-called public servants.

Like them, you know what’s wrong with this bill, which is why you’ve come out against provisions that would tax the tuition waivers of graduate students, repeal the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate and trigger massive cuts in Medicare and farm subsidies. So all you have to do now is vote accordingly.

Kansans perform postmortem on Brownback tax 'experiment'

Kansans from Olathe, Baldwin City, Overbrook, Council Grove, Lincolnville, Hillsboro, Salina and Topeka sound off on governor Sam Brownback's tax experiment that was recently overturned by the Kansas legislature. This video was originally published June 10, 2017.

Keith Myers The Kansas City Star