Liberal columnist E.J Dionne is concerned about recent efforts by conservative leaders to rebrand the Republican Party.
He applauds House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., for “asking what government could do for the middle class,” but he worries that “[i]n some states where Republicans control all the levers of power, they are rushing ahead with astonishingly right-wing programs to eviscerate government while shifting the tax burden toward the middle class and the poor and away from the wealthy. In trying to build the Koch brothers’ dystopias, they are turning states in laboratories of reaction.”
Dionne goes on to cite Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s Kansas as an example of these “Koch brothers’ dystopias” and warns, “The ‘Red State model’ is likely to take hold in only a few states — and may provoke a backlash.”
Really? Has Boston-born and Harvard-educated Dionne visited Kansas recently? (Or ever?)
If Dionne were to bother to visit Kansas, he would find a state with an unemployment rate of 5.4 percent, a full 2.5 points below the nation’s 7.9 percent average. Despite “eviscerated” state government spending, Kansas’ fourth- and eighth-graders beat the national average in both math and reading scores. The state’s 11.2 percent poverty rate is also well below the national 15.8 percent national average. And despite all those evil tax cuts for the rich, the gap between Kansas’ wealthiest and poorest citizens is also much smaller than the national average.
The most recent Jayhawk Poll showed Brownback enjoying a 55 percent to 37 percent approval rating. But I’m sure the backlash Dionne predicted is just around the corner.