Thus spoke Ronald Reagan’s OMB (Office of Management and Budget) director David Stockman (6/8/2017). Stockman has been making dire pronouncements like this for years, and for years he has been absolutely wrong. Yet the talent bookers for CNBC continue to call him back for reprises of his infamously bad calls. For years Stockman has been unable to square stock market fundamentals with valuations. Maybe this time those bookers figure the stopped-clock syndrome will come up in their favor. More likely they know Stockman’s ‘horrendous’ prediction will get eyeballs to their site. After listening to his rant about the “calm before a gigantic, horrendous storm” I’m truly beginning to question if the guy is in possession of his faculties. He terms the furor over Russian tampering in our election process as a “huge nothing-burger” and asserts that Mike Flynn did nothing wrong, even though it has been alleged that Flynn’s attorney has been shopping for an immunity deal.
To Stockman this Russia-gate business is one big distraction, with the impact being total absence of effective government, a libertarian dream-come-true. We are out of control: we can’t get anything done, it will lead to a market collapse. My take is that we have our priorities set exactly right. The economy is doing fine. We don’t need Congress doing something rash that might upset the apple cart. Focussing with laser precision on an the threat represented by the Russian hack of our body politic seems to be a much better way to spend our time. This should not be a partisan issue! Damn the tweets, full speed ahead!
Speaking of Partisan Politics, Kansas may provide a ray of hope.
One real problem that has faced our country is the extreme partisanship that has taken hold over the past couple of decades. George Washington warned against this in his 1796 farewell address. He posited that the affairs of state could get so bound up in political wrangling that the citizenry would be open to a strong man who promised to fix the broken system. Sound familiar?
I live in Kansas, just across the state line from my home town, Kansas City, Missouri. Although there is a Kansas City, Kansas, it is K.C.,MO that the natives refer to when they say they are from Kansas City. KCMO is the home of the Chiefs and Royals and some of the greatest cultural infrastructure in the United States. KCMO infrastructure keeps my property in Kansas valuable. So, I’m proud to be from Kansas City.
I have had trouble admitting I’m from Kansas because the politics here have been plumb crazy-to the extent that author/historian Thomas Frank wrote a book about it, “What’s the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America.” Since the publication of Frank’s book in 2004, Kansas has become a total fiscal basket case. Interestingly, during the first six years after the book came out, the Kansas executive branch was in the hands of the Democrats, two-term governor, Kathleen Sibelius (who resigned in 2009 to become HEW secretary in the first Obama term) and her successor, Lt Governor Mark Parkinson. During that decade the make up of the legislature became significantly more conservative as a result of grass root politicking. By 2010 the stage was set for the return of ‘favorite son’ Sam Brownback to run for governor … after nearly 20 years in Washington, first in the House of Representatives and then 15 years in the Senate. Mr. Brownback was a true believer in the proposition that if you cut taxes on the job creators prosperity would be sure to follow. After being sworn in in 2011 the Governor, with strong extremely conservative majorities in both the Kansas House and Senate, signed into law a repeal of the Kansas income tax on all pass-through businesses (lawyers, doctors, family farms, sole proprietorships–some 330,000 of them).
The governor called the cuts a “real live experiment” of the principle that slashing taxes and cutting government spending would spur economic growth that would power the state.–Kansas City Star, 6/11/2017 It did not work. After five years of extreme cuts to infrastructure, education, safety net programs and dipping into the state pension funds (year-after-year one-time attempts to keep the state afloat), the Kansas Legislature, on a second attempt over-road the governor’s veto and reinstated the income tax on these businesses. According to The Hill this move could raise revenues by $1.2 billion.
Importantly, this required a bipartisan effort to meet the requirement of a two-thirds majority in both houses to accomplish the over-ride. Maybe the fever is breaking! If so, it would be a very positive development not only for the market (it should be a boost to our national psyche) but also the soul of our democracy.
Of course, thanks to the circus in Washington, this really monumental change in a very RED state was totally missed by the televised media, though it did make the front page of the New York Times -6/7/2017. Kudos to NPR who gave it a good working-over. Unfortunately, most Americans do not get their news from these sources.
What do you think?
P.S. I love this quote from Thomas Frank–“Bad government is the natural product of rule by those who believe government is bad.”
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