Scary: New York Times on the 'Crimson Ideology' of the Kansas GOP

Kansas conservatism, red in tooth and claw.? New York Times reporter John Eligon reported from Topeka on the latest disturbing sign of heartland conservatism: "Kansas' Governor and G.O.P. Seek to Eliminate Income Tax." Text box: "Skeptics see a path to economic devastation in a conservative bid."

Eligon actually led off with an accurate description of President Obama's "expansive liberal agenda," but then went overwrought, taking the "starkest view of the crimson ideology" of Republicans.

Why not just say "conservative," like he usually does? After all, Eligon wrote perhaps the most "conservative"-label heavy story every printed in the Times. His August 6, 2012 article contained a staggering 33 uses of the word "conservative" in non-quoted material within a 1,367-word article. Thursday's story didn't reach those figures, but what was missing in labeling-bias quantity was made up for in intensity ("crimson ideology").

President Obama stood on the steps of the Capitol in Washington on Monday afternoon and laid out an expansive liberal agenda for the nation. Inside the Kansas State Capitol here this week, Gov. Sam Brownback and Republican legislators have been drafting what could be a blueprint for the other side.

On Wednesday, lawmakers received a bill to inch the state closer to eliminating income taxes, a centerpiece of a broad legislative vision that many in the Republican Party here hope will serve as a model of conservative governance for other states, if not the nation, to follow.

While Republican principles of small government and low taxes have holds on large swaths of the country, Kansas provides perhaps the starkest view of the crimson ideology that could challenge Mr. Obama’s Inauguration Day rallying cry.

This month, the largest tax cut in Kansas history took effect, and most of its Medicaid system was handed over to private insurers. The bill introduced this week would pare taxes further, with the goal of eventually eliminating the state’s individual income tax. Mr. Brownback has already slashed the state’s welfare roll and its work force. He has merged government agencies and is proposing further consolidation. He is pushing for pension changes, to change the way judges are selected and for altering education financing formulas.

Eligon framed liberal arguments in emotional language.

Critics say Mr. Brownback’s tax cut was passed on the backs of low-income Kansans. The bill included the repeal of tax credits for food, rental housing and child care that benefited low-income residents. Because of those repeals, the poorest 20 percent of Kansans will spend an additional 1.3 percent of their incomes, an average of $148 per year, on taxes, according to a report by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. The top 1 percent, meanwhile, will see the share of their income that goes toward taxes drop by 2 percent, or $21,087 per year, the report said.

Eligon concluded with a moderate Republican's blast.

But [Rep. Tom] Sloan said he felt that lawmakers were simply tailoring spending to fulfill the tax cuts, risking essential services without so much as discussing what the priorities should be.

“Bottom line is, if the governor’s right and I’m wrong, the state will prosper,” he said. “If I’m right and the governor’s wrong, then the state will suffer long term. I hope he is correct because that’s the path we’re on, but I have my doubts.”