Skip to main content

How do you make the case that Sam Brownback has been good for Kansas?

If you are Stephen Moore, the "chief economist" for the Heritage Foundation, you fake the data.

What's going on in Kansas is beginning to look a lot like proof that Republican magical thinking about economics has at last run out of fairy dust to cloak itself in.

Yael T. Abouhalkah is an editorial writer for the Kansas City Star. While researching a piece on the Kansas economy, he couldn't help but notice that the facts he was turning up were at odds with the "facts" reported in a pro-Brownback piece written by Moore and published the Star earlier this month.

Moore's column argued that Kansas needed to give Brownback's regime more time to work its wonders, because "the national data tell us" that over the last 20 years

the nine states without an income tax have had double the population growth and more than double the income growth of states with very high income taxes. These results are statistically significant, which means it is very unlikely they happened by chance. This does not mean all states that cut taxes have growth or that all states with high taxes don’t have growth. It means there is a strong propensity for low-tax and tax-cutting states to grow. Period. This is a problem for the left because places such as New York, Massachusetts, Illinois and California that have been following Krugman’s (and President Barack Obama’s) economic strategy are getting clobbered by tax-cutting states.
OK. Some of you have already noticed that here we have a "chief economist" abusing the concept of "statistical significance" in a way that would embarrass a first year student of the subject.

But let's move on to what Moore said next:

No-income-tax Texas gained 1 million jobs over the last five years; California, with its 13 percent tax rate, managed to lose jobs. Oops. Florida gained hundreds of thousands of jobs while New York lost jobs. Oops.
Abouhalkah found FOUR errors in that brief passage.

No. 1: Moore's data isn't from  "the last five years”. When challenged by The Star he admitted it was from December 2007 to December 2012. Which is a deliberate deception. The Bureau of Labor Statistics data that Moore was relying on is updated Every. Single. Month. So there is no reason to use 18-month-old data. If Moore honestly wanted to look at the “the last five years” he could have presented the numbers from mid-2009 to mid-2014.

No. 2: even within his cherry-picked dates, Moore lied about the numbers. Texas did not gain 1 million jobs in that 2007-2012 period. The correct figure was a gain of 497,400 jobs.

No. 3: Florida did not add hundreds of thousands of jobs in that span. It lost 461,500 jobs.

No. 4: New York, which has one of the highest income tax rates, did not lose jobs during that time. It gained 75,900 jobs.

Abouhalkah noted a 5th oddity as well:

California since December 2012 — when Moore stopped measuring employment growth — has added 541,000 jobs, which is more than Texas’ 523,400. So, high taxes are good?
At this point one must ask: how is it that Stephen Moore still has a job?

More importantly, let's see what Abouhalkah's own research turned up. From his July 18 piece - the one he was researching when he realized how dishonest Moore's piece was:

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and his advisers want to create an alternate reality when it comes to job growth in the state.

They keep throwing out misleading numbers to the public while trying to cloud Kansas’ mediocre jobs picture.

Consider what happened earlier this week, after Democrat Paul Davis gained national attention when more than 100 current and former Kansas GOP officials endorsed his efforts to defeat Brownback this fall.

The Brownback campaign shot back with the oft-repeated claim that the Republican governor has created plenty of private sector jobs since he took office in January 2011. It was the latest effort to promote large tax cuts he signed as a way to re-energize the state’s economy.

The facts are far more sobering for the governor.

On Friday, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics released the latest employment figures for all 50 states — the same ones the Brownback administration uses repeatedly for its “we’re getting better” press releases.

Overall, the number of private sector jobs added since 2011 in Kansas crept up to 55,100. However, that statistic loses a lot of shine once you factor in the 8,300 jobs lost in local and state government ranks since 2011. Those are people who may no longer have steady income to pay the rent, buy food, pay taxes and contribute to the Kansas economy.

Fact is, Kansas has actually gained only 46,800 total jobs since early 2011.

So how does that more realistic figure — which the Brownback team does not promote — compare to the rest of the country?

Using the federal agency’s data, The Star compiled percentages of seasonally adjusted, nonfarm total job growth for Kansas, its four bordering states, a few other Midwestern states, Texas (no income tax), New York (extremely high income tax), and the U.S. average from January 2011 through June 30, 2014.

Texas, 10.5 percent
Colorado, 9.2 percent
Oklahoma, 6.5 percent
U.S. average, 6.1 percent
Iowa, 5.0 percent
New York, 4.8 percent
Missouri, 4.1 percent
Nebraska, 3.8 percent
Kansas, 3.5 percent
Arkansas, 1.9 percent

Kansas has had one of the nation’s poorest rates of employment growth during Brownback’s time in office, including since the first tax cuts took effect in 2013.

The new Bureau of Labor Statistics report also reveals that Kansas — like eight other states — had fewer jobs at the end of June than it did seven months ago. This fact undermines the Brownback mantra that the state’s economy is gaining steam in 2014.

If that isn't the final nail in the coffin of Moore's "just give it more time" argument, I don't know what is.

Obviously Republican everywhere will rally and say that government jobs aren't real jobs and that Kansas is cutting them for the greater good, and that is what is skewing the job numbers under Brownback.

It's a ridiculous contention, but as Abouhalkah says, "just for amusement, let's follow the argument":

We re-figured all the numbers the way the Brownback administration wants. So here are the states in order of percentages of seasonally adjusted, private sector job growth from January 2011 through June this year.

Texas (12.9 percent), Colorado (10.2 percent), Oklahoma (8.1 percent), U.S. average (7.6 percent), New York (6.5 percent), Iowa (5.3 percent), Kansas (5.1 percent for its 55,100 added jobs), Nebraska (4.8 percent), Missouri (4.4 percent) and Arkansas (2.6 percent).

Again, Kansas doesn’t even rise to the national average in using just the part of the employment picture that Brownback favors.

By the way, several other states also have trimmed local and state government employment, yet still surged ahead of Kansas in private sector jobs. For good measure, the number of government and private sector jobs have grown in states like Colorado, Oklahoma and Iowa.

Moore will probably not suffer any consequences for being a charlatan. Brownback is unlikely to be so lucky.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

fly, Alumbrados, PrahaPartizan, Jsea, kd4dean, Bob Love, Sherri in TX, Wintermute, cotterperson, eeff, xynz, hubcap, whenwego, highacidity, Iberian, Cedwyn, antirove, dksbook, wader, Redfire, psnyder, Evolution, Catte Nappe, AmyCat, Brian82, Major Kong, Black Max, Hector Solon, environmentalist, sawgrass727, Gowrie Gal, Ckntfld, ichibon, dewtx, ChemBob, Gary Norton, fixxit, Dem Beans, where4art, Steve in Urbana, Sandino, Shotput8, Rusty in PA, peacestpete, Alan Arizona, Dolphin99, cybersaur, 417els, Clytemnestra, liberalconservative, technomage, raincrow, Lefty Coaster, blueoasis, philipmerrill, Rosaura, agnostic, middleagedhousewife, rage, CA Nana, doingbusinessas, Temmoku, Aaa T Tudeattack, Thinking Fella, Habitat Vic, merrylib, oklacoma dem, puakev, mommyof3, certainot, bnasley, TrueBlueMountaineer, cyncynical, jnhobbs, millwood, RudiB, spearfish, on the cusp, TomP, Empower Ink, mconvente, misterwade, wayoutinthestix, Youffraita, dadadata, bonch, bythesea, alasmoses, monkeybrainpolitics, Calamity Jean, Jeff Y, catly, envwq, mofembot, codairem, BYw, billybam, statsone, 207wickedgood, Bule Betawi, Nebraskablue, janmtairy, indres, dRefractor, papahaha, kevinpdx, Keith Pickering, jfromga, cassandraX, Just Bob, LOrion, renzo capetti, NYWheeler, cai, rja, ericlewis0, slice, annieli, kerflooey, Liberal Capitalist, afisher, FarWestGirl, lexalou, mrsgoo, marleycat, zukesgirl64, Jasonhouse, ShowMeMoBlue, RMForbes, enhydra lutris, antooo, VTCC73, Joe Jackson, Dbug, stlsophos, weinerschnauzer, leftykook, StepLeftStepForward, bassinduo, Auriandra, Laurel in CA, jacey, KansasNancy, cwsmoke, IndieGuy, ahumbleopinion, Eric Nelson, a2nite, Deep Texan, Trotskyrepublican, CA ridebalanced, Socalled Socialist, peachcreek, belinda ridgewood, Syoho, BusyinCA, MartyM, BRog, avsp, Kenneth Thomas, etherealfire, Glen The Plumber, wasatch, maf1029, ShoshannaD, Captain Chaos, GoGoGoEverton, mygreekamphora, Chaddiwicker, ericf, The grouch, aresea, Alhambra, JerryNA, howabout, nice marmot, BadKitties, ET3117, Floyd Blue, Jim Domenico, duhban, TheDuckManCometh, CenPhx, roundhead, blackluck, richardvjohnson, Dodgerdog1, ConnectTheDotsUSA, Will Stark, Gurnt, LiberalLoner, IsaacKuo, debris54, MaximilianKohler, windsong01, BMScott, blairhoughton, Mopshell, Gunnar Thomas, bobcat41702, csm, Wes Kobernick, DaveElder, saffrondawn, CWinebrinner

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site