Daily Archives: Dec. 23, 2012

After derailing ‘Plan B,’ Huelskamp stuns MSNBC panel

A press release from the office of U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, said he “led the efforts” to keep House Speaker John Boehner’s “Plan B” fiscal-cliff solution from coming to the House floor. “Republicans should not be forced to vote for a ‘show’ bill that asks us to compromise on our principles,” Huelskamp said in a statement. When the “Big First” congressman took his defiant message to MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Friday, also tangling with host Joe Scarborough over gun control at one point, Huelskamp left the panel of hosts and pundits exasperated. “There is the problem for the Republican Party right there,” tweeted host Mika Brzezinski afterward. Eugene Robinson, a Washington Post opinion columnist appearing on the show, said: “It was stunning. It was depressing. I didn’t know whether to scream or weep. But there you see the problem.”

Flinchbaugh’s tough talk on Congress, tax cuts

Barry Flinchbaugh, professor emeritus of agricultural economics at Kansas State University and a veteran of farm-bill fights, recently predicted at an American Bankers Association conference in Milwaukee that the new farm bill won’t come until April. As reported by the High Plains Journal, he lamented that the “hard work that was put in the Senate will have to start over” and blamed “political uncertainty” for the state of the economy. “As my old friend, former Sen. Alan Simpson of Wyoming, would say, this Congress gives 2-year-olds a bad name,” Flinchbaugh said. “We have elected a bunch of wingnuts that don’t understand compromise and how government should work. Wingnuts on the left and wingnuts on the right.” As for Flinchbaugh’s congressman, Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler: “If I had him in class I’d have flunked him,” the professor said. During a question-and-answer session, Flinchbaugh called Gov. Sam Brownback a friend but complained about the state income-tax cuts. “He’s listening to that fraud economist from California, Arthur Laffer, who’s a supply-sider, who thinks you can grow by cutting taxes,” he said. “It doesn’t work. History shows it doesn’t work. It transfers the bills from state government to the local government so Gov. Brownback can run for president in 2016 and say, ‘I cut state taxes.’”

‘65 percent solution’ is part of the problem

To its credit, Gov. Sam Brownback’s school-efficiency task force recognized that the “65 percent solution” is itself a problem. In appointing the task force, Brownback complained that few school districts are spending 65 percent of their funding “in the classroom.” But as the task force members learned, whether schools meet that standard depends on what is counted. “There are a lot of things normal people would think are included in instruction that are not included in that definition at the present time,” task force chairman Ken Willard told lawmakers last week. Also, different districts have different needs. For example, fast-growing districts may need to spend more on capital improvements. “Our general belief is the 65 percent number is a bit arbitrary,” Willard said. The task force is recommending the state redefine what is included in the number. “If we are going to have a number, it should have some meaning,” Willard said. But the other big problem is that there is no research showing a relationship between the 65 percent threshold and improved student outcomes. It’s just a made-up number.