Kansas GOP Insider (wannabe): Where Are the Conservative Leaders?

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Where Are the Conservative Leaders?

There was once a rumor that the top leaders in the Kansas House and Senate were conservatives. I think it's safe to say most Kansans knew what we were getting with Senate President Susan Wagle: 

She appears quite content to sail the USS Kansas right into the side of an enormous tax increase --only Democratic special interests need apply for life jackets.

I expected more in the House, though. There, conservatives, with the help of some moderates, elected Ron Ryckman, Olathe, Speaker of the House. Ryckman has conservative creds, and he promised to be fair. Apparently, fair only applies to some weird brand of Democratic special interests, however. 

There's nothing fair about balancing the budget on the backs of poor and middle class Kansans, and he allowed that bill to get onto the House floor. 

Last week with nary a word of debate, a bipartisan coalition of so-called moderates and the liberal lefty Democrats rammed through the House (and a day later, the Senate) a tax increase that will be an anvil around the ankles of middle class and lower income families trying to keep their heads above water. So, thanks for that. They did this despite not even having passed a budget. This means they decided, well, no matter what, we've got to give taxpayers a pay cut. We aren't sure why. We don't know the numbers or what we need, but they definitely can't keep all that money they earned in January, February and into the future. 

The House Speaker should rarely be in the minority on a vote. Ryckman has the ability to shut down any bill in the House, and he chose not to use it. This may have been some politics behind it: Now, everyone is on record, and there's definitely some political hay to be made from that. Grassroots conservatives know for certain that we can't trust Reps. Abe Rafie, Shelee Brim, or Sean Tarwater on fiscal issues. (I think the term I'm looking for here is one-termers.) So, now we know what we're dealing with. 

Here's the enraging part about so-called House leadership: This bill is going to be vetoed, but the vote was incredibly close to a veto-proof majority. What the fiscally sane people and taxpayers need is a champion who will whip the no votes and ensure they stay that way on a veto override vote. Word on the street is that Ryckman is refusing to do that.  

If you're one of the few people who has Ryckman's ear, now might be the time to mention that conservatives will write him off for higher office --I know he's eyeballing Yoder's seat--if he can't use his leadership position to fight for fiscal sanity in Kansas. Why on Earth would anyone send him to Washington (or even back to the Speakership) if he can't lead on something as simple as sound fiscal policy in Kansas. Real leadership means you have people following you. What does it say when you're on the wrong end of a 76-48 vote and you have ultimate control over whether that vote occurs? Conservatives need someone they can follow into battle, and right now, Ryckman isn't that guy, unfortunately.

Leaders Needed

Because Ryckman refuses to go to bat for conservative values, someone else is going to need to. We can't have another moment in which the conservative selected to speak against a massive tax increase is in the bathroom when the time comes. Yes, that actually happened. When it was time to debate that tax increase monstrosity, a few conservatives in the House had a plan to offer amendments and you know, say a few words about NOT GROWING THE SIZE OF AN ALREADY BLOATED GOVERNMENT BY TAXING CITIZENS TO DEATH. When the time came, the guy who everyone agreed would say something was in the restroom.

Um, other guys and gals not in the bathroom--you, too, can step to the well and say something. Even if it's not the most polished, brilliant thing you've ever said, conservatives needed a voice in that vote. It's soul-sucking that no one stepped up to defend the taxpayers. I know you were taken by surprise at the speed everything happened, but we're going to need you to be quicker on your feet. If you need some flash cards with some generic things you can say, let me know. I'll write those up, and I'll only charge you three times what the state is going to take from my wallet come next April. Wait, does that seem awfully expensive for some note cards? Well, welcome to my world. Taxpayers send you buckets of money each year, and it sure seems like we're not getting our money's worth.)

There's a new, loose organization working on political strategy to accomplish a few things. I'm hopeful that they'll have some success, but the jury is still out. 

About That Bill

Hopefully, this loose coalition of the sane, the Truth Caucus, can help with a bit of the messaging. It's absolutely enraging that the media is running around saying this tax bill simply rolls back the LLC-exemption from 2012. 

Guys, that's a lie--a complete and total lie. It does roll back the small business tax incentive from 2012, but it also raises income taxes RETROACTIVELY on even the lowest wage earners in Kansas. In fact, the back breaking income taxes on the middle class bring in the majority of the new revenue in this bill. The small business tax incentive, or LLC-exemption, is only a small piece of the revenue. 

Congratulations, entire world. All of those people who campaigned on rolling back the LLC-exemption weren't tell the truth about their actual aims. If that were truly their imperative--to end that tax incentive--they could do it in a clean bill that simply did that. 

But that's not what this is. It's a dirty bill with all kinds of tax hikes on everyday Kansans, and liberals blanketed their lie by pretending this just rolls back the LLC-exemption. Shame on mainstream media for allowing that myth to pass as reality, and shame on any so-called conservative or Republican who tries to say that's really what this bill does. That's smoke and mirrors.

By the way, legislators have tried clean bills in the past and failed. I think it's failed four times so far in the last two years. You know who wouldn't vote for it? Dems and moderates who say it doesn't go far enough. This is politicking at its worst. If rolling back the LLC tax incentive were really the "right thing to do" and what "the people" want, they wouldn't be using it as a bargaining chip. They'd do the right thing.

LLC versus Carry Forward Loss

Here's the truly infuriating part: These (hopefully, now) one-termers campaigned on raising taxes on the rich so Kansas could pay its bills and on tax fairness. (Because being a slave to government spending is super fair to people like me.)

They argued that the LLC-tax incentive busted the budget, and that it was just giving the rich a tax break. That's not what the data suggests. Instead, much of the tax break went to individuals who earned less than $25,000 per year. These are people who were likely working side businesses--like window installation, accounting, or hair styling--and created a business on their own after 2012. That may not seem like massive hiring--which is what the libs claim--but creating your own job IS job creation.

Meanwhile, the people screaming the loudest about the LLC tax incentive never mention that the legislation would also reinstate a tax break for the actual wealthiest. It's called the carry-forward loss provision. This provision remains a part of federal tax code, and it's the tax provision that allowed President Donald Trump to avoid paying income taxes for decades.

Here's how it works: Say you have a business that lost money in 2014, you can carry forward the losses, so that your spouse's taxable income is no longer taxable, or you can carry forward the loss into future years, meaning the income you earn the following year or a few years down the road isn't taxable, because you lost money back in 2014. Typically these are wealthy people by the way. If you're a tiny business and you lost money in 2014, the business doesn't exist a few years later for you to carry forward the loss. 

When legislators crafted the LLC tax incentive in 2012, they eliminated the carry-forward loss provision. They exchanged rewarding failure--producing losses--for rewarding success--creating a business. It's too bad the media didn't accurately portray that 2012 tax bill, because in hindsight, it was Kansas ingenuity at its best, and it appears it's going to work when the economy truly gets rolling. (With a Republican in the White House, an actual recovery appears imminent, and then it's watch out, world.)

If tax fairness is truly the concern of the legislators who oppose the LLC-exemption, I sure hope they're planning to make KPERS pensioners to pay taxes on their retirement incomes at some point. As it stands now, they don't pay taxes on the income on the way in and they don't pay income taxes on the way out. The rest of us pay taxes on our retirements. That's but one example of dozens in the Kansas tax code that doesn't treat people "fairly."

The Solution

Grassroots friends, the pressure for conservative legislators to capitulate to liberal nonsense masquerading as fiscal sanity is going to be intense. This bill is going to be vetoed, and we're going to need to call our friends to ensure they hold the line. 

If moderates are hellbent on eliminating the LLC-tax incentive, fine. Conservative legislators, with the help of the Speaker who is supposedly an ally, make them vote on clean legislation that does only that. We can't allow the lowest income taxpayers to bear the burden of a government that will not cut the fat. 

Your legislators need to know what conservatives expect them to do. Don't let up on the phone calls, emails, and letters. Twitter and Facebook work, too. If your legislator is going to be at a forum or town hall, please stop in and thank those who voted correctly. Don't mince words for those who voted to balance the budget on the backs of hard working Kansans.

Conservatives got complacent a few years ago, and it's time to step up our game. Everyday Kansans are doing our best to stay afloat without any lifejackets, while the wealthy and Democratic special interests row away in the lifeboats.  We need the help of strong, principled conservative leaders in the House and Senate. 


  1. I'm sure the democrats and liberal Rebub's are just giddy for a SCOSK ruling, that way the'll be able suck another $965 Billion dollars out of the private sector.

  2. Sorry, $965 Million dollars, make it sound cheap that way! lol Sen. Masterson should have stepped up to the plate, or someone in the Senate Conservative side, but alas he told the Caucus that he wouldn't bring amendment if no one else did. That's not a fight that you can win, unless the Governor veto's.