Editorial: GOP insists on repeating Kansas’ mistakes

Our congressional delegation failed to warn the country about our tax disaster

Members of the Kansas congressional delegation, clockwise from top left: Sen. Pat Roberts, Rep. Lynn Jenkins, Rep. Roger Marshall, Rep. Kevin Yoder, Sen. Jerry Moran, and Rep. Ron Estes. (File photographs/Submitted)

Every member of the Kansas congressional delegation just voted for a colossal tax bill that will cost the federal government a projected $1.4 trillion over the next decade. Here’s what Rep. Lynn Jenkins had to say about her vote on the House floor: “I rise today to be a voice for Kansans who know our status quo tax code no longer works for them. … Kansans know that without rejuvenated and sustained economic growth, we will never find the money to pay down our nation’s debt.”

 

Jenkins may think she’s a “voice for Kansans,” but she can speak for herself. She doesn’t speak for the Kansans who watched Gov. Sam Brownback’s tax experiment ravage their state for four years. She doesn’t speak for the Kansans who elected moderate lawmakers last year on their explicit promise to abandon the delusional supply-side fantasy that has cost our state billions of dollars since 2012. She doesn’t speak for the Kansans who know the GOP tax bill won’t “pay down our nation’s debt” — it’ll do the opposite.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that the bill will increase the deficit by around $1.4 trillion by 2027. Like Jenkins, House Speaker Paul Ryan thinks the GOP tax plan will pay for itself: “We do fundamentally believe that this tax code and this tax reform will give us faster economic growth. Faster economic growth helps raise the economy, which raises revenues. And that helps us tackle the deficit.”

There’s just one problem: From the Reagan tax cuts to the Bush tax cuts to the Brownback tax cuts, this never happens.

It’s a bit much for Jenkins to pretend like she’s a champion for working Kansans after voting for this bill. Although most low- and middle-income Americans will see lower taxes, many of their reductions are slated to expire at the end of 2025. And we shouldn’t be under any illusions: The bill’s primary purpose is to reduce taxes for corporations and the wealthiest Americans. A recent analysis released by the Tax Policy Center explains that “higher income households receive larger average tax cuts as a percentage of after-tax income, with the largest cuts as a share of income going to taxpayers in the 95th to 99th percentiles of the income distribution.”

The Tax Policy Center reports that households in the top quintile will save an average of $7,640 in 2018, while Americans in the first, second, third and fourth quintiles will save $60, $380, $930 and $1,810, respectively. And the reductions for each income bracket get proportionally larger as they go up the income scale (i.e., Americans in the top quintile will see a 2.2 percent change, while those in the bottom quintile will see a 0.4 percent change).

Meanwhile, the corporate tax rate will fall from 35 percent to 21 percent, there will be a 20 percent deduction for pass-through businesses (something that might sound familiar to Kansans) and the estate tax thresholds will be doubled to $11 million for individuals and $22 million for married couples. The bill will also eliminate the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, which the CBO predicts will lead to 13 million fewer insured Americans by 2027. Ask yourself: What do you really think about a bill that will put millions of families at risk while allowing obscenely wealthy people to shelter even more of their money from the estate tax?

Members of the Kansas congressional delegation should be particularly ashamed of voting for the tax bill. If they really wanted to be a “voice for Kansans,” they should have warned the country not to make the same disastrous mistakes we did. Instead, they did the opposite.

Members of The Capital-Journal’s editorial advisory board are Zach Ahrens, Matt Johnson, Ray Beers Jr., Laura Burton, Garry Cushinberry, Mike Hall, Jessica Lucas, Veronica Padilla and John Stauffer.

 

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