Thursday, November 12, 2015

Alf Landon and Sam Brownback: The Reverse Robin Hoods of Kansas

Above: During a discussion with reporters in 1935, Harry Hopkins says that Republican Governor Alf Landon "balanced his budget in Kansas by taking money out of the hides of the needy." Landon ran against President Roosevelt in 1936, but lost by huge numbers. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Above: Republican Governor Sam Brownback has also tried to balance his budget--decimated by his tax-cuts-for-the-wealthy--by "taking money out of the hides of the needy." Brownback, and his Republican buddies in the Kansas legislature, have paid for tax-breaks-for-the-wealthy by raising taxes on the middle-class & poor, by taking money out of the state's highway fund, by closing a homeless shelter, by forcing K-12 schools to close early, and more. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Despite the fact that both Landon and Brownback took money & services away from the middle-class & poor, so that they could pamper the wealthy, many middle-class & poor Americans still voted for them. And, as long as people keep voting against their own economic interests, we'll continue to face stagnant wages, large amounts of debt, regressive taxation, and crumbling infrastructure. The super-wealthy? Well, they're laughing all the way to their offshore, tax-evading bank accounts - which, by the way, Republicans want to shield from law enforcement.

The New Deal showed us a better way. Through a combination of funding mechanisms, including higher taxes on the wealthy, New Deal policymakers used the CCC, PWA, WPA, and other work programs to create jobs & infrastructure. New hospitals, schools, roads, parks, airports, etc., began sprouting up all across the nation. After World War II, the American economy expanded along New Deal roads, across New Deal bridges, and out of New Deal airports. The political right never acknowledges this and, indeed, doesn't want you to know about it. They'll tell you "No, no, no, Ayn Rand built all that!"

So, which do you prefer? Reverse Robin Hoods, like Landon and Brownback, or New Deal policies, programs, and infrastructure that we still use today?

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