Norquist defends tax cuts despite Brownback woes in Kansas

Anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist said Sunday that tax cuts are not the reason for recent economic woes in Kansas, predicting that embattled GOP Gov. Sam Brownback will win reelection in November, despite rising criticism of his fiscal agenda.

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Brownback, a former GOP senator who championed the tax cuts in his state, is under fire from a long list of Kansas officials, including many Republicans, who contend those cuts have contributed to the state's recent economic struggles.

But Norquist, who heads Americans for Tax Reform, an anti-tax group based in Washington, said the critics are barking up the wrong tree.

"One, I think he'll win," Norquist said on NBC's "Meet the Press" program. "Two, I think he'll win because he's done the right thing for the economy."

Norquist went on to say that, over the past four years, the 30 states controlled by Republican governors have cut taxes by more than $30 billion, while the 20 controlled by Democratic governors raised taxes by $40 billion.

With that in mind, he argued that voters have a simple choice.

"If you want your taxes higher, vote for a Democrat governor," he said. "If you want lower taxes, vote for a Republican governor."

Appearing alongside Norquist, What's the Matter with Kansas? author Thomas Frank had a decidedly different take, saying Brownback's tax cuts have led directly to the state's financial problems.

"The promise was that this would lead to a kind of immediate economic boom in the state, and that hasn't materialized," Frank said. "But it has, of course, had the obvious effect of cutting off revenues coming into the state, and that, in turn, has had all the problems that you would expect … [in terms of] public schools and state services."

Earlier this year, Moody's downgraded Kansas's credit rating, citing the state's sluggish recovery post-recession — a move that wasn't overlooked by "Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd, who challenged Norquist to explain how the tax cuts have benefited the state.

"A lot of people think [the downgrade] is because of these tax cuts," Todd said.

Norquist disputed that notion, arguing that Kansas is in better economic shape than the critics acknowledge.

"They've had 57,000 jobs in the private sector created in Kansas; they've actually been spending more money, each year in the state, on education than in the past," he said.

"The reason why the entire left in the country has jumped on top of Kansas is they have provided a model, a successful model, that will phase out the income tax," Norquist added.