Kansas’ Experience With the Trump Tax Plan

President Trump’s new tax plan looks a lot like Governor Brownback’s tax plan for Kansas, which had been disastrous for the state’s economy. Rational Republicans should realize that if an experiment fails, and fails miserably, there is no point in repeating it. That is particularly true when the economy of the entire country is at stake. Both the economic theory and Governor Brownback’s experiment with the Kansas economy show that Trump’s tax plan is doomed to fail. The tax bills now winding their way through Congress will lead to economic stagnation and an increased in the national debt of $1.5 trillion, both things which are repugnant to rational Republicans.

The Theory is based on Laffer’s curve which looks like a normal distribution curve. In theory, if the nation is on the high side of the curve with taxes around 80%, then the curve predicts that cutting taxes will cause a move to the left along the curve, increasing tax revenue. That is likely to improve economic growth. If the nation is on the low side of the curve with taxes around 40%, then cutting taxes will also lead to the left along the curve, decreasing tax revenue, leading to a stagnating economy, and certainly a greater public debt.

The United States is now on the low side of the curve with the high marginal tax rate around 40% – so cutting taxes will not lead to increased revenue or spur economic growth. Laffer should know that, but he has abandoned reason and professional ethics and now just supports tax cuts without reference to his own curve. Kansas paid Laffer $75,000 in consultation fees. His advice, when the Kansas economy was tanking, the public debt was mounting, and job growth was decreasing – was to stay the course. Kansas Republicans finally realized that the experiment had failed. They increased the tax rate, and overrode Governor Brownback’s veto of the tax increase. The governor is now leaving the state before his term is up.

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The failure in practice is described by Duane Goosen, who was the Kansas budget director for 12 years prior to Brownback’s experiment:

“Just like the Brownback tax cuts, the Trump plan makes dramatic changes to tax policy by consolidating income tax rates and reworking deductions. Most notably, the Trump plan offers an enormous tax break to individuals who receive “business pass through income.” In Kansas this feature has become known derogatorily as the “LLC loophole”, allowing business income to be sheltered from income tax while people who earn a paycheck must pay tax.

Given that the same economists who advised Brownback now advise Trump, it’s unsurprising that his administration uses similar arguments to sell its plan: the tax cuts will grow the economy and create millions of jobs; the tax cuts will pay for themselves; everyone will benefit. Brownback said all that, too.”

Job growth in Kansas during Brownback’s years was lower than the United States job growth and much lower than in California, which has a high tax rate.

Mr. Goossen goes on, “But after five years of the Brownback experiment in Kansas, we know the real result. Kansas has an anemic economy and one of the lowest rates of job growth in the nation. A dramatic drop in revenue broke the state budget, wiped out reserves, significantly boosted state debt, and put public education at risk. And that part about everyone benefiting – well, it turns out that the bulk of the benefits went to the wealthiest Kansans while the tax bill to low-income Kansans went up

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