Archive for Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Trump to nominate Gov. Brownback to serve as ambassador

Gov. Sam Brownback waves to guests before delivering his state of the state address to a joint session of the Kansas legislature in Topeka, Kan., Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

Gov. Sam Brownback waves to guests before delivering his state of the state address to a joint session of the Kansas legislature in Topeka, Kan., Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

July 26, 2017, 6:57 p.m. Updated July 26, 2017, 8:31 p.m.


— Five years ago, Gov. Sam Brownback made Kansas an economic laboratory for the nation by aggressively cutting taxes. He's expected to leave office with his Kansas reputation in tatters and his home state an example of trickle-down economics that didn't work.

The White House on Wednesday announced that President Donald Trump plans to nominate Brownback to serve as ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom. If confirmed by the Senate, he'll run the State Department's Office of International Religious Freedom.

Kansas officials expect Brownback to step down as governor when he is confirmed by the U.S. Senate, but his office wouldn't discuss his plans Wednesday evening. Brownback's fellow Republicans called the job a good fit for him, and some conservative religious groups had pushed for the appointment.

"Sam has always been called to fight for those of all faiths, and I am glad he has been given an opportunity to answer this call," said Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts, a fellow Republican.

Brownback's departure would automatically elevate fellow conservative Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer to governor.

Brownback, 60, served in the U.S. Senate before his election as governor in 2010 and was an early advocate of U.S. action to stop genocide in Sudan's Darfur region, and visited Congo and Rwanda to decry humanitarian crises and call for better coordination in foreign aid programs.

In a tweet Brownback called religious freedom "the first freedom" and said he was honored "to serve such an important cause."

None by Sam Brownback

But Tom Witt, executive director of the LGBT-rights group Equality Kansas, decried Brownback's nomination because of his conservative views on issues such as same-sex marriage.

"He has caused enough damage here in Kansas," Witt said in a statement. "We do not wish him upon the world."

Brownback also would leave a Kansas legacy of far tougher restrictions on abortion and fewer limits on gun owners than when he won the first of his two terms in 2010.

He rejected expanding the Medicaid health program for the poor in line with former President Barack Obama's signature health care law even as several other Republican governors went ahead.

But Brownback will be most remembered for championing cuts in Kansas personal income taxes starting in 2012. The state was supposed to get a "shot of adrenaline to the heart" of its economy.

He described it as a state-level experiment that would demonstrate the benefits of tax-cutting theory that dates back to Ronald Reagan's administration, with Kansas even hiring Reagan economist Arthur Laffer to provide advice and promote the results. Cutting taxes — in particular for business owners — would spur hiring, creating wealth that would trickle down to everyone.

It's still GOP orthodoxy, and Trump has set similar tax cutting goals. But in Kansas, the cuts failed to deliver the economic growth the governor had promised, and persistent and sometimes severe budget problems followed.

"His policies have bankrupted our state and led to destroying nearly every agency of state government as well as his own political career," said Kansas Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, a Topeka Democrat and a vocal critic.

With the state's economy struggling, Brownback won re-election with less than 50 percent of the vote in 2014 by suggesting the state could have it all. Kansas could keep his core income tax cuts without sacrificing spending on schools or social services. Instead, the state muddled along with temporary budget patches, raiding highway funds, shorting public pensions and then boosting sales and cigarette taxes.

Fellow Republicans across the nation watched the Kansas experiment closely and were not impressed. GOP lawmakers in Missouri enacted tax cuts but went slower and tied them to growth in tax revenues. In South Carolina, an unsuccessful pitch for tax cuts prompted then-Gov. Nikki Haley to say, "We are not doing what Kansas did."

Trump carried Kansas easily in 2016, but voters turned on Brownback and his allies, ousting two dozen of his conservative allies from the Legislature and giving Democrats and GOP moderates more power.

The Kansas Legislature repudiated Brownback's program in June, rolling back most of those past tax cuts, raising rates and ending an exemption for more than 330,000 farmers and business owners to raise $1.2 billion over two years. Brownback vetoed their bill, and they overrode his action.

Kansas Republican Party Chairman Kelly Arnold said Brownback will be remembered as a governor who advanced conservative ideas.

As for his tax cuts, Arnold said, "I guess we'll never really know what the long-term impact" would have been.

The reversal of Brownback's tax cuts was a far cry from the promise of his first term.

He won the governor's office in 2010 as a U.S. senator on a wave of voter frustration in ruby red Kansas with Obama and other Democrats in Washington, aided by the rise of the tea party movement. Brownback won 63 percent of the vote and Republicans swept all statewide and congressional races on the ballot.

Brownback grew up on a family farm in eastern Kansas, trained as lawyer and was the state's agriculture secretary from 1986 to 1993, taking a year off to serve as a White House fellow. He was elected to the U.S. House in 1994, part of the so-called Republican revolution that gave the GOP control of both the House and the Senate for the first time in 40 years.

Two years later, he won election to the Senate, capturing the seat held by Bob Dole, who'd resigned to run for president. Brownback won a full six-year term in 1998 and another in 2004.

Brownback has long been a favorite of Christian conservatives for his strong stances as a U.S. senator against abortion and same-sex marriage. He also gained some attention as a vocal critic of the entertainment industry.

He started running in 2007 for the Republican presidential nomination but dropped out before primaries and caucuses began in 2008.

Brownback converted to Catholicism in 2002 after having been a Methodist, and his religious devotion and commitment to helping the poor in other nations has led him in the past to break the mold of classic conservatives.


Steve Jacob 11 months ago

Interesting that he would be the fifth person to get this appointment, but the first politician to have it.

Ken Lassman 11 months ago

"Religious Freedom is the first freedom. The choice of what you do with your own soul,"

How rich is that? What price to your soul have you paid to do what you have done to Kansans, Sam?

BOULEVARDWHEAT 11 months ago

Moisture is the essence of wetness. And wetness is the essence of beauty.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 11 months ago

Huh?? Whazzat?? At least it will get him out of Kansas..............(Won't it??)

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 11 months ago

He'll still be sucking in our tax dollars to do what? His goal is to turn us into a christian theocracy, and his particular sect of Christianity. He could care less about religious freedom.

Steve Hicks 11 months ago

I'm sure Governor Brownback thinks that he's a Christian: and therefore a "person of faith" fit to be "ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom" (is that a nonsense "politically-correct" office, or what ?).

And very obviously president Trump is completely out of his depth, and entirely lacking any expertise, to name such an "ambassador."

My question is whether a deeply dishonest person is fit to fill even such an empty political-puff "religious" position ? And whether a man who insisted for 5 years that his hard-ideologue budget was "working" for Kansas is an honest person, in any degree ?

Michael Kort 11 months ago

The spiritually Blind Media Manipulating President appointing the spiritually blind to go and do his fake news religious nonsense,

Steve Hicks 11 months ago

Well put, brother Michael, well put.

Brad Avery 11 months ago

I guess we owe a debt of gratitude to the president for pulling the plug on the Kansas swamp. Doesn't Kobach need a well paying federal job as well? The Civil Liberties Ambassador to North Korea, maybe?

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 10 months, 4 weeks ago

Actually they gave him a moonlighting job. He really needs to resign and sell his property in Douglas county, and move to DC.

Phillip Chappuie 11 months ago

Religious freedom is the first freedom? According to who? My constitutional freedoms are not defined by some moron's theocratic ideology. Is this some C Street carry over Jeff Sharlet warned us of? I guess in one sense it may be OK because the whole thing is a do nothing sham waste of tax dollars. Director of Mythology would be a better job title though.

Greg DiVilbiss 11 months ago

According to the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 10 months, 4 weeks ago

Greg is right, but religious freedom should be extended to all religions, not just Christianity. And schools funded by the government in any way, should not favor one religion over another. All the major religions should be taught as a social studies subject, which they have been since I was in school, but not promoted or demanded.

Joe Blackford II 11 months ago

Trump Presidency = Virtueless Reality

Sam started his Christian ways @ KSU as Student Body President, when he eliminated a student-operated drug hotline service; perhaps saving each student < $0.25/credit hr? I'm sure Sam had the $ saved planned for some grand experiment, now lost to history and his fellow Wlldcats.

Ken Hunt 11 months ago

Congrats to Kansas! The Lord works in mysterious ways. Maybe now the state will follow the teachings of Jesus.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 10 months, 4 weeks ago

Well now that Brownie is gone, maybe we can. He sure didn't follow the teachings of Jesus. He's of the mind that only people with enough money should get health care. I wonder how much his Jesus charged those people he healed?

Sam Crow 10 months, 4 weeks ago

I guess since you read the Bible twice, you would be the expert and know all Jesus things.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 10 months, 4 weeks ago

I don't remember Jesus charging anything. Maybe I should go back and read it again. Apparently, he said let them all die, unless they have enough money. Fill me in Sam. What would Jesus do about health care in America?

Evan Taylor 11 months ago

Ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, huh? What a farce! Somehow I suspect that Sammy considers some religions more free than others...

Joe Blackford II 10 months, 4 weeks ago

Sam has always considered himself free to impose his religion on others.

Calvin Anders 11 months ago

From the above article: "Brownback converted to Catholicism in 2002 after having been a Methodist, and his religious devotion and commitment to helping the poor in other nations has led him in the past to break the mold of classic conservatives." Can LJW give us some examples of his "commitment to helping the poor in other nations" and how this has "led break the mold of classic conservatives"? This seems like a bold statement that must have some good examples of votes or at the very least strong policy positions that put Brownie at odds with the Republican establishment on some matters of foreign aid and other economic help for the poverty stricken around the world. If not, it's just blindly reprinted propaganda. Heck of a job Brownie. (And heck of a job LJW).

Steve Hicks 10 months, 4 weeks ago

I'm with Calvin. Maybe Brownback was impelled by his religious beliefs to do some good things. I hadn't heard of them, and would like to be fair to the man if there are some. Maybe the Associated Press (not LJW) reporter could give us some examples...?

Joe Blackford II 10 months, 4 weeks ago

Doesn't Sam have a habit of rewarding "loyal" AP reporters:

John Milburn, Director of Legislative and Public Affairs, Kansas Department of Administration; previously Associated Press, Lawrence Journal-World

Calvin Anders 10 months, 4 weeks ago

So LJW is absolved of all responsibility for fact checking something they published because they pulled it off the wire? I'm sorry Steve, but I disagree. We can point fingers at AP for putting the propaganda out in the first place, but LJW should not call themselves a newspaper if they are not going to exercise some sort of journalistic effort to ensure that what they pull off the wire is factual.

Steve Hicks 10 months, 4 weeks ago

Not sure I'd agree the LJW is responsible for giving examples to back up what an AP story says. That seems rather a different thing than catching and correcting a blatant untruth.

But either way, it would be helpful to know some specific things he's done "to help[] the poor in other nations..." With specific evidence of good deeds, I'd be willing to consider that he might in some way have "[broken] the mold of classic conservatives."

Fred Whitehead Jr. 10 months, 4 weeks ago

More evidence of the incredible l incompetence of the unelected, illegitimate fool who was "unelected" President of the United States. Birds of a feather "flop" together.

Richard Heckler 10 months, 4 weeks ago

A master at tax dollar leeching.....and deception.

Has he ever had a job? outside of tax dollar leeching?

Living off of tax dollars and special interest campaign money perhaps ??

Working at the state department for EXXON-Mobil lobbying for Koch Oil.

The Brownback Seminary:

United States of ALEC – Bill Moyers

ALEC Subversive Activity

ALEC – The Voice of Corporate Special Interests in State Legislatures

ALEC EXPOSED – The Koch Connection

ALEC – Ghostwriting The Law for Corporate America

Steve Hicks 10 months, 4 weeks ago

The news-reports all seem to refer to Sam Brownback as "deeply religious."

I'll say again: a "religious" man who is not even HONEST is deeply self-deluded.

Richard Heckler 10 months, 4 weeks ago

Koch Outspends Exxon-Mobil on Climate Denial

The Wonk Room has long detailed the role of the billionaire brothers of Koch Industries, Charles and David Koch, in destroying American prosperity.

In public, the Kochs like to burnish their reputations by buying museums and opera halls. In private, however, they’ve outspent Exxon Mobil to fund organizations of the climate denial machine, as Greenpeace details in a new report:

Although Koch intentionally stays out of the public eye, it is now playing a quiet but dominant role in a high-profile national policy debate on global warming.

Koch Industries has become a financial kingpin of climate science denial and clean energy opposition.

This private, out-of-sight corporation is now a partner to Exxon Mobil, the American Petroleum Institute and other donors that support organizations and front-groups opposing progressive clean energy and climate policy.

In fact, Koch has out-spent Exxon Mobil in funding these groups in recent years. From 2005 to 2008, Exxon Mobil spent $8.9 million while the Koch Industries-controlled foundations contributed $24.9 million in funding to organizations of the climate denial machine.

This report, “Koch Industries: Secretly Funding the Climate Denial Machine” documents roughly 40 climate denial and opposition organizations receiving Koch foundation grants in recent years, including:

Union of Concerned Scientists

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