Archive for Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Something to hide?

The secrecy surrounding a state tax task force doesn’t inspire confidence.

October 12, 2011

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By any definition, a task force must have members, so assuming there really is a “task force” working on what could be dramatic changes in the Kansas tax structure, why can’t the Kansans who will be affected by those changes know who its members are?

Not only are state officials keeping the members of the task force secret, they also are operating entirely out of the public view, offering the people of Kansas no opportunity for input.

When the Journal-World pressed a Department of Revenue spokeswoman about the makeup of the task force, she refused to give any names or details. She identified a couple of department staff members who “are being consulted” about tax policy. She also said that legislative leaders have been consulted, but only Republican leaders, no Democrats. Others who have been consulted, she said, include “various state agency heads, economists and business owners. … This is not an appointed group.”

So is there really a task force, or is this just Gov. Sam Brownback and Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan collecting input from a group of like-minded business and government associates, many of whom could have a financial stake in the outcome of the discussions?

The department spokeswoman wouldn’t identify any of the business owners who were being consulted, but Brownback’s ties to, for instance, the multibillionaire Koch brothers is well known. The spokeswoman did confirm that Arthur Laffer, one of the architects of President Ronald Reagan’s supply-side economics strategy, is being paid $75,000 for “providing his expertise” on the tax proposal. Laffer’s guiding principle is that lowering certain tax rates will result in economic benefits that more than offset the lost tax revenue. It is a theory that has been discounted by many economists, but has support in some circles, apparently including the Kansas governor’s office.

Regardless of what direction this group is taking, the people of Kansas deserve to know what is going on and to have some input on the process. To that end, Senate Majority Leader Steve Morris announced Tuesday that he was forming his own tax study group to analyze options for reducing taxes and creating a more business-friendly environment. He appointed Sen. Les Donovan, R-Wichita, as the group’s chairman and named three other senators as members. He said the Senate minority leader would be invited to appoint a representative to the group, which also will include members of the public.

“Right now, there are a lot of ideas being floated around, but what they all seem to be missing is citizen input,” Morris said in his announcement. “This isn’t something that should be done behind closed doors by a bunch of bureaucrats.”

Morris also noted, “One of the reasons Washington got itself into so much trouble is because they listened to special interest groups instead of the folks on Main Street. We’re not willing to let those same mistakes be made in Kansas.”

Morris’ effort shows some courage that people in his district and across the state should appreciate. Morris and at least one of the senators he appointed to the study group already face opponents in the upcoming Republican primary. It seems likely they already are being targeted by the conservative wing of the Kansas Republican Party because they supposedly have not been supportive enough of a conservative agenda for the state.

The only problem with Morris’ study group is that it isn’t scheduled to start meeting until the 2012 legislative session. By that time, the existing “task force” already will have a fully formed proposal on the table.

The secrecy surrounding the work on new state tax policies certainly leaves the impression that there’s something about this process that the governor and his revenue secretary want to hide from the people of Kansas. If that’s not the case, state officials need to open this process to public input and scrutiny.

Comments

cato_the_elder 3 years, 7 months ago

Editorials like this one are typical of the left-wing bias that J-W editorials have generally displayed for at least a decade now. Example: "Laffer’s guiding principle is that lowering certain tax rates will result in economic benefits that more than offset the lost tax revenue. It is a theory that has been discounted by many economists, but has support in some circles, apparently including the Kansas governor’s office."

For the edification of the editorial writer, it also had support in the office of President Ronald Reagan, whose two terms got our economy going again and set us in motion for the economic boom of the '90s, which was also greatly assisted by having a Republican Congress for 6 of the 8 years Bill Clinton was in office.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 7 months ago

"it also had support in the office of President Ronald Reagan,"

All worshippers of Reagan feel they need to do is invoke his name, and that somehow legitimizes whatever claim they want to puke out.

esteshawk 3 years, 7 months ago

What???? How in the world do you possibly justify Reagon getting the 90's economy going? Do you not remember the Bush I years? "It's the economy stupid!" is the phrase that got Clinton elected.

jafs 3 years, 7 months ago

There's a lot of revisionist history around Reagan.

Among other things, he raised taxes a couple of times, presided over a recession, etc.

beatrice 3 years, 7 months ago

And Reagan tripled the national debt. As Ron Paul said at a recent debate (paraphrasing): "I like what Reagan said, I just didn't like what Reagan actually did."

Of course, to cato, Reagan is to be given credit for the success of the '90s under Clinton along with the Republicans in congress he had to work with, but Obama is 100% to blame for the current economy, even though it was still crashing when he took office, and he, too, has to work with a Republican controlled House, at least. That is silly beyond silly, party over country, nonsense.

cato_the_elder 3 years, 7 months ago

Yes, there certainly is a lot of revisionist history surrounding Reagan, as demonstrated by the three previous shallow, completely inane posts, that conveniently ignores his enormous accomplishments despite the plethora of obstructionist liberal Democrats with whom he had to deal.

jafs 3 years, 7 months ago

It's too bad you can't manage to discuss things without resorting to personal attacks/insults.

I take it as a sign that your arguments lack sufficient integrity/plausibility to stand on their own, and be convincing.

cato_the_elder 3 years, 7 months ago

Take it however you want, including by submitting another inane post.

jafs 3 years, 7 months ago

Thank you for making my point nicely with that post.

jafs 3 years, 7 months ago

It's truly remarkable how people can maintain their partisan perspective.

Giving Reagan (R) the credit, despite having a D Congress, while giving the R Congress credit while Clinton (D) was president is a striking example of the inconsistency there.

cato_the_elder 3 years, 7 months ago

It has to do with the essential differences between conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats. You might want to read up on it.

mloburgio 3 years, 7 months ago

Taxes and Budgets Efforts to Reshape the Tax Code to Benefit Big Business and the Ultra Rich This page documents how bills pushed by ALEC corporations would create tax giveaways to Big Business, give tax breaks to the richest, and eviscerate state legislatures' ability to raise revenue through tax increases. These "model bills" and resolutions also push for extending the Bush tax cuts and attempt to use temporary legislative majorities to tie the hands of future majorities to raise taxes to meet citizens' needs. Through ALEC, corporations have both a VOICE and a VOTE on specific state laws through these model bills. Do you? http://alecexposed.org/wiki/ALEC_Exposed

Keith 3 years, 7 months ago

Glad to see the editor is waking up to the fiasco that is Governor Brownback. Can we assume you won't be endorsing him next time around?

cato_the_elder 3 years, 7 months ago

The striking differences between the daily J-W editorials and the Saturday Column have been patently obvious for at least a decade.

Fossick 3 years, 7 months ago

"The only problem with Morris’ study group is that it isn’t scheduled to start meeting until the 2012 legislative session. "

Since it's Morris's study group, perhaps he could change the schedule a little bit. Complaining about the fact that your opponents are outmaneuvering you while you sit in place seems an odd tactic.

jaywalker 3 years, 7 months ago

"The secrecy surrounding the work on new state tax policies certainly leaves the impression that there’s something about this process that the governor and his revenue secretary want to hide from the people of Kansas. If that’s not the case, state officials need to open this process to public input and scrutiny."

That's an exceptionally weak and simple-minded conclusion to an op-ed.

"The only problem with Morris’ study group is that it isn’t scheduled to start meeting until the 2012 legislative session. By that time, the existing “task force” already will have a fully formed proposal on the table."

Well then, perhaps 'Morris' study group' should pull their heads out and get to work.

“This isn’t something that should be done behind closed doors by a bunch of bureaucrats.”

Absolutely correct! It should be done openly by a bunch of bureaucrats. The difference is staggering.

" It is a theory that has been discounted by many economists, but has support in some circles, apparently including the Kansas governor’s office."

Written like you were still in high school. Are you kidding with that?

This was simply a stinker of an editorial. While the subject matter is topical, this must have been farmed out to Free State or LHS, perhaps a Kansan freshman at best. Atrocious.

Orwell 3 years, 7 months ago

Ad, meet Hominem.

Contrary to "conservative" orthodoxy, name-calling does not constitute rational discussion on the merits of an issue

jaywalker 3 years, 7 months ago

Reading, please introduce yourself to Comprehension. I was only criticizing the actual writing of the piece, never even touched on the merits of the issue at hand. And there was no "name-calling."
But thanks for being "that" person.

jafs 3 years, 7 months ago

Do you support this sort of secrecy in government?

Carol Bowen 3 years, 7 months ago

Oh, come on. That is a comparison of what? Tax code versus drug trafficking.

jafs 3 years, 7 months ago

That's not an answer to the question I asked.

jafs 3 years, 7 months ago

I know.

I just like to point it out now and then.

Orwell 3 years, 7 months ago

"Religious bigots"? Really? That's the best you've got?

Willie_Green 3 years, 7 months ago

Partisan acolytes of Laffer's theory deliberately ignore that the function follows a curve. The obstinately insist that revenues will always increase no matter how much you lower taxes. In reality, that is only true for excessively high tax rates. There is an "optimal" point on the curve where tax revenues are maximized. Below that point, lower tax rates also lower tax revenues the same as having excessive tax rates.

jafs 3 years, 7 months ago

Good point.

And, it's also a "theory", not something that's been proven to be true.

Although it does make a bit of common sense.

Maggotpunk 3 years, 7 months ago

Brownback certainly doesn't want to advertise the details on how he'll destroy Kansas' economy to please the Koch brothers and his friends at The Fellowship. If word got out even Republicans would be upset and Brownback might have to hear from the rabble.

itwasthedukes 3 years, 7 months ago

You are so right! Republicans want to destroy America one arts budget at a time.

frankwiles 3 years, 7 months ago

A theory is simply the most elaborate form of consistent scientific knowledge not yet disproved by experiment. It doesn't mean it's "lesser". Nearly all science is "just a theory" because science is open to the fact that its ideas can be, at a later date and with more information, proven incorrect. To clear up the definition for everyone.

jafs 3 years, 7 months ago

The Laffer curve theory is not scientific knowledge, as far as I know.

Do you have any evidence that it is anything more than an interesting idea?

Economics is a "soft" science in any case, not capable of the kind of certainty found in "hard" sciences like physics.

And, a scientific theory that has been tested and found evidence that supports it is quite different from one that hasn't been.

common_man 3 years, 7 months ago

A more accurate description of the manner in which the Laffer theory is interpretted, is that at some point on a curve of net tax revenue plotted against tax rates, a certain tax rate will result in a decrease in total revenue.

jafs 3 years, 7 months ago

That's pretty much exactly what WG said.

And, I agree that's the idea - the question is whether it's true, and where that point is.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 7 months ago

If corporations got rid of taxes where would they go for tax incentives? aka pork barrel?

This bogus group,until we know otherwise, will come out with money for fundamentalist schools thus depleting public school funding evermore drastic..... which of course may be against the law?

This may provide a sneak peek as to how this group will be proceeding: http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2005/0705rebne.html

Flap Doodle 3 years, 7 months ago

A six year old article from a propaganda site may not be the most relevant thing on this thread, bub.

kansasredlegs 3 years, 7 months ago

Where was the outcry in this community when DG CO and City leaders met in secret to discuss funding the SRS building by improperly utilizing the executive session process? Apparently, as long as you support the idea or elected official it's not an issue.

jafs 3 years, 7 months ago

Actually, it's a good point if it's true.

Secrecy in government is either ok or not ok - it shouldn't depend on which side of the aisle engages in it.

It might depend on the content of the discussions - ie. national security.

Liberty275 3 years, 7 months ago

"And the connect is.....?"

Are you serious? We can't allow the government at any level to act in opacity without proving the secrecy is required to protect national security, ongoing investigations by law enforcement or American citizens. The default should always be transparency.

We pay them to act as our proxies, therefore we have the right to know what they are doing. It doesn't matter who "they" are.

We are a nation of law, not one of "And the connect is".

Alexander Smith 3 years, 7 months ago

Well after our lovely moron Gov. lost the state of Kansas Millions of dollars as act of defiance against Obama. This latest act doesn't suprise me.

The GOP amazes me how blind they are on how the economy works. They wan't to cut taxes to make them look good as if the tax cut will put money back in the publics pockets that is of any value.. which is very little since the amount would be less then noticable. Unless inflation comes to a complete standstill, which it won't, you MUST increase taxes. GOP can't figure this one out. They just want to cut more programs, put more people on welfare. What also kills me is the GOP thinks our tax system is working just fine and no loop holes need to be closed.

OH to add another off the topic spin to this post. The GOP is sooo big on individual rights, one them which we know is all about freedom of religion, how come then...do they consistantly bring faith into the things they do. A perfect example is gay marriage?? what is driving this?? some scientific study?? some research that says it will destroy America?? OR..or just ORR.. its religious based..Hummm could it be. OH wait... it couldn't be that..we are country based on freedom of religion. No influence there.

Liberty275 3 years, 7 months ago

"What also kills me is the GOP thinks our tax system is working just fine"

Is Herman Cain part of the GOP?

"A perfect example is gay marriage?"

God has nothing to do with gay marriage. The gay marriage problem is that states define "marriage" (according to the constitution) but the constitution then confuses the issue by requiring states to recognize the documents of other states (in this case, the document would be a marriage certificate). Where the difference are small, states generally accommodate each other, but when the two states have laws in direct conflict, it has to be settled by the supreme court. That's an issue that remains in limbo because neither side is willing to risk a ruling at this point.

Don't take me wrong. I'm to the left of most everyone regarding marriage and would define it as "A legal union between two or more consenting humans".

OTOH, I hope gay marriage and medical marijuana forces the left to once again embrace the state's rights they sacrificed on the alter of abortion.

A single constitutional amendment of one sentence would allow states to redefine marriage however they wish and would protect other states from being required to alter their own definition of marriage to conform with others.

Liberty275 3 years, 7 months ago

Something to hide?

Washington (CNN) - Congress isn't getting a glimpse of what's on President Barack Obama's Blackberry - or any more internal White House communications related to the bankrupt solar company Solyndra, which received a $535 million loan guarantee from the federal government.

http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2011/10/14/source-white-house-will-not-turn-over-all-solyndra-documents/

Something to hide?

Jan Rolls 3 years, 7 months ago

Speaking of reagan why don't all of you right wing nuts google his 1985 speech and watch his video where he says the rich aren't being taxed fairly and they should pay their fair share instead of putting the burden on the middle class. Since you refer to reagan as your savior why not listen to what he said.

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