Jay Bookman

Opinion columnist and blogger with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, specializing in foreign relations, environmental and technology-related issues

The promised miracle of supply-side economics, only in reverse

It's time for another periodic update on the economic laboratory known as Kansas, the state where conservative Republicans have been given free rein to implement conservative, tax-cutting supply-side theory, and the state that everyone from Arthur Laffer to the Wall Street Journal to Mitch McConnell have cited as a grand testing ground of that theory.

  • Since December, the state has lost almost 20,000 jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Since December, a net of more than 16,000 Kansans have left the state workforce.
  • Fewer Kansans are now working than at any point since December of 2013.
  • And how about retail trade, which was projected to blossom as a result of major income tax cuts disproportionately benefiting the wealthy?

And how does the economic performance of Kansas compare to that of the nation as a whole? Using job and income data compiled by the Philadelphia Federal Reserve, Menzie Chinn at econbrowser.com gives us this illustration, with vertical lines marking the inauguration of Gov. Sam Brownback and the implementation of the tax cuts that were supposed to generate immense growth:

To make matters worse, of course, that shrinking Kansas economy has been accompanied by laid-off teachers, school closures, abandoned highway projects, underfunded pension programs and rising tuition in state universities, among other consequences of massive and ongoing spending cuts. That's life in Sam Brownback's Kansas.**


** Bad as that is, life in the small part of Kansas dominated by the governor's younger brother, Jim Brownback, is truly horrifying, as this investigative piece by the Topeka Capital-Journal documents. It reads like something out of Erskine Caldwell or maybe Stephen King.

Reader Comments ...

About the Author

Jay Bookman writes about government and politics, with an occasional foray into other aspects of life as time, space and opportunity allow.