Voters in Kansas decided to place the right wing-nuts in office and now they must face the negative results. They had ample warning what would take place, yet they voted against their own best interests.
Sam Brownback is the governor. Kevin Yoder is a congressman. You, Mr. Jayhawk, you, Ms. Wildcat, voted for them.
A little more than a month has passed since the mid-term elections and the pangs of and pains of what the wing-nuts have and will wrought stand harshly before the populace, a populace nearing a middle class calamity. The poor and disenfranchised already face ordeals in supporting their families.
All this reminds me of an old saw: for whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap. Kansans, you knew what you were doing at the polls.
A statement by Brownback after the election shows just how callous and disingenuous the man can be. He didn’t think there was a massive budget deficit projected for the state. The man said that. His Democrat opponent, Paul Davis, repeated the concern throughout the campaign. Too many Kansans didn’t listen. Newspapers spoke of it, economists spoke of it, even the state’s own numbers crunchers spoke of it.
Well, as they said down on the farm near Abilene, the chickens have come home to roost.
Then there’s Yoder, the Overland Park representative who likes skinny-dipping in the Sea of Galilee. Yeah, that Yoder, the one with the squeeze-the-government-and-help-the-rich gang. They are repaying their benefactors. The people of Kansas and beyond will feel the dire consequences.
Jennifer Bendery, a political writer for the Huffington Post, penned recently: “For all the anger among progressives about a Wall Street bailout provision that made its way into the just-passed $1.1 trillion government spending bill, there’s been little attention on the person who put it in there.”
Enter Yoder, a second-term congressman whose main contributors are in the finance industry. He introduced the provision last summer. It was literally written by Citigroup executives, but Yoder took their language and rolled it into an amendment to a spending bill in a House subcommittee meeting. It got swept into the year-end spending package because it “was within the scope of negotiations” on it, according to an Appropriations Committee aide, Bendery wrote.
Massachusetts Democrat Elizabeth Warren railed against the provision on the Senate floor. The speech, so say some pols, will push her into a presidential run. For now, she’s upset about a banking rule that no longer will be in force. That regulation prevents big banks from relying on the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to bail them out if things go sour when they trade risky assets. The rule was put into place as part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank law, which overhauled the financial regulatory system after the 2007-2008 financial crisis stemming from banks making extremely risky bets and losing.
Yoder’s provision paves the way for another possible bailout.
He had been mum about the spending package since it passed the House. Bendery said his office hadn’t responded to multiple requests for comment on why he slipped the Citigroup language into it. For awhile, the press statements on his website said nothing about the provision or the spending bill. There were no posts about it on his Facebook page. He had said nothing in his Twitter feed.
However, Bendery noted that his Facebook page showed numerous comments from those catching on that he was the one behind the Wall Street provision. And they’re not happy, Bendery said.
Three with Kansas ties who wrote:
“I have always voted for you, Congressman Yoder, but I am disappointed with your yes vote on the Omnibus bill and we, your constituents, deserve an explanation as to why,” wrote Dianne Lavenburg, who lives in DeSoto. “[P]lease clarify your involvement regarding the taxpayer bailouts for risky bank investments also included in the Omnibus bill.”
Kevin West, a student at Kansas State, said, “How much did Citi donate in exchange for you inserting their requested verbiage?”
Scott Gregory of Roeland Park said, “I’m sure the good folks of the 3rd District were just beating down the door to get CITI favored treatment. You are a sell-out to Wall Street lobbyists.”
The flood of negatives apparently woke Yoder from his hibernation because Tuesday he answered the criticism: “Without this fix, smaller regional banks would be in danger of not being able to meet the lending needs of their customers. Ultimately, farmers, manufacturers and other Main Street businesses would be harmed the most.”
Those statements, too, are disputed. Warren blasted the provision as a loophole that would allow Wall Street to gamble with taxpayer money.
The Kansas City Star editorial page continues to do a good job of pointing out Brownback’s inept leadership. Other media are joining in.
Luke Brinker, Salon’s deputy politics editor, wrote recently that Brownback was calling all hands on deck to fix the state’s huge self-imposed budget crisis. And that includes an assist from an unlikely source, Obamacare.
“The state’s well-documented budget troubles came after Brownback’s dramatic reductions in taxes since taking office in 2011,” Brinker wrote. “With its revenue drying up and cash reserves depleted, Kansas is staring at a $280 million hole in its $6.4 billion FY 2015 budget, which ends in June.”
Brownback offered his proposal for closing that hole last week: a mixture of spending cuts and transferring funds from other parts of the budget to fill it. And second biggest of those transfers is $55 million in revenue from a Medicaid drug rebate program that was bolstered under the Affordable Care Act.
Brinker said, “The short version then is this: Obamacare is helping Kansas address its fiscal crisis — even if Brownback’s administration seems loath to admit it.”
Will Brownback’s war on government leave the state in shambles? Grover Norquist, the ultra conservative with only tax cuts on his mind, once said, “I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.”
Brownback wants to do the same thing. But he must stare down that $280 million budget shortfall — one that is growing by the day. Could he rescind his much ballyhooed tax cut plan? Should he renege on his signature tax cuts, which have wreaked fiscal havoc on the state, or follow the Norquist playbook? Just how would the budget remain viable?
The conservative response was predictable. Just as they had during the campaign, the Kansas army of Koch-funded soldiers blamed liberals as the real culprits. Why? Because they wouldn’t swallow the massive spending cuts that would have been required to pay for Brownback’s tax cuts.
You may recall that Roy Merrick, Republican state House speaker, said, “The new revenue estimates only highlight the continuing need to protect core services while streamlining state government. We do not have a revenue problem. We have a spending problem.”
The state has already implemented huge cuts in education funding, mental health services and aid to more than 1,400 disabled. Where can the budget slasher go next?
Brownback has said he will cut highway funding and reduce contributions to the state’s pension fund, which is already one of the worst funded in the country.
Wonder how Kansans will thank Brownback and Yoder?