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After the 2010 elections, when anti-tax Tea Party Republicans swept many states, they had a chance to perform a radical experiment. They bet that slashing corporate taxes and individual taxes would be a shot in the arm to their economy, creating new jobs and more revenue. They were wrong. The deep tax cuts reduced public revenues, harmed public services, especially education, and did not produce economic growth.
This article in The Nation explains it.
“Oklahoma isn’t typically a big-spending state, even under Democratic governors. But until eight years ago, Democrats held most statewide offices and maintained some power in the Legislature. Then, in 2010, a number of Tea Party candidates were elected to office. The GOP increased its majorities in the Legislature and, after winning the governor’s race, controlled the entire statehouse for the first time in Sooner history.
“Oklahoma wasn’t the only state that got a fresh coat of red paint. Republicans had full control of just 14 state legislatures in 2010, while Democrats held power in 27. After the November elections that year, Republicans held majority power in 25, including Oklahoma.
“The newly empowered Republicans didn’t sit on their hands; they got to work implementing an extreme anti-tax Tea Party agenda. But now the damage those decisions have wreaked is becoming abundantly clear—not just in underfunded schools and crumbling infrastructure, but in lagging economies and angry constituents. States are supposed to be the “laboratories of democracy,” in the famous phrase of Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, putting new ideas to the test. But the Tea Party experiment of drastically cutting taxes in the hopes of sparking economic growth has blown up in lawmakers’ faces.
“Oklahoma legislators had already reduced income taxes back in the mid-2000s, and an amendment added to the state constitution in 1992 makes it all but impossible to raise taxes, requiring approval from a three-quarters supermajority of lawmakers. Lowering them requires only a simple majority.
“The Tea Party experiment of drastically cutting taxes in the hopes of sparking economic growth has blown up in lawmakers’ faces.
“But the politics after 2011 were different. “The Republicans swept,” said David Blatt, executive director of the Oklahoma Policy Institute, a progressive think tank. “We never had a Republican governor with a Republican legislature.”
“State lawmakers came “out of the gate in 2011 with a pretty regressive, large-scale tax-cut plan,” said Meg Wiehe, deputy director of the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), a nonprofit, tax-focused research group. Led by Governor Fallin, the Oklahoma GOP wanted to scrap the income tax entirely—a plan that was the brainchild of conservative economist Arthur Laffer, the self-described “father of supply-side economics.”
If we lived in a rational world, everyone would agree that we learned an important lesson. Draconian tax cuts benefit the wealthy and do not produce economic growth. They require government to starve essential services. Unfortunately we do not live in a rational world.
Teachers and parents are angry. Will their anger suffice to throw the bums out?