Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Republican Welfare States

Here is a factoid/jpeg that began floating around the web recently. It's NJ Governor Chris Christie pushing back against the increasingly strident KY Senator Rand Paul, who can't seem to stop haranguing those --even Republican stars-- who are to the left of him, which is nearly everyone.

This should outrage you. The hypocrisy should disgust you. But I am guessing you did not  hear much about this-- the dust-up between Christie and Paul, but far more importantly, the essential truth Christie made about how federal tax dollars are distributed to the states.

As Christie noted:
“I find it interesting that Senator Paul is accusing us of having a gimme, gimme, gimme attitude toward federal spending when in fact New Jersey is a donor state, we get 61 cents back on every dollar we send to Washington,” Christie said. “And interestingly Kentucky gets $1.51 on every dollar they sent to Washington.”
So it's nice to see Gov. Christie acknowledge what academics, wonkish progressives, and civics teachers have known all along: Red states are America's biggest welfare recipients. It is worth noting that the transfers are normal and legal. A crucial role of the federal government is to redistribute according to votes in congress, e.g., our representatives apportion money to fund or help fund bridges in OH, prisons in KS, scientific research in CA, and schools and military spending just about everywhere.

Conservatives have worked hard to convince Americans that what happens is that hard-working Americans, the real ones who vote Republican, have their income appropriated by communists socialists Democrats, who then hand it out to undeserving ingrates --mostly them there coloreds--living in more urban blue states unwilling or unable to compete in a free market. That's the only reason they voted for Obama, don'tcha know?

Let's be clear: federal tax dollars go where they do because congress votes it that way. It should also be clear not only that some states benefit more than others, but those that garner the most per-capita aid from the federal government are America's reddest, most conservative states.

The list below illustrates my point. There are several variations of this as the rankings will vary a bit over time. This one is from the Tax Foundation and it measures the amount of money received from the federal government compared to $1 paid in federal taxes.

The first 10 are the heaviest recipients of federal largess: They are mostly low-tax havens, and they all use out-of-state tax dollars to pay their bills. They are also overwhelmingly red states.

New Mexico  $2.03
Mississippi  $2.02
Alaska  $1.84
Louisiana  $1.78
West Virginia  $1.76
North Dakota  $1.68
Alabama  $1.66
South Dakota  $1.53
Kentucky  $1.51
Virginia  $1.51 

The list below is the 10 states that received the least in federal spending for each $1 of federal taxes paid. Federal taxes taken from these states are used to help pay the red state bills.  As you can see, these states are overwhelmingly blue. 

Colorado  $0.81
New York  $0.79
California  $0.78
Delaware  $0.77
Illinois  $0.75
Minnesota  $0.72
New Hampshire  $0.71
Connecticut  $0.69
Nevada  $0.65
New Jersey  $0.61

You didn't think those southern conservatives were actually trying to save you money, did you? You know, by getting government off your back? By letting you keep more of your hard-earned money? You earned it, you keep it, right? The bromides are endless, but only the hopelessly naive does not realize all politicians are in Washington to bring home the bacon. What is less well-known, but obvious if one only looks, is how well red state Republicans enrich their states with "other peoples' money," as the expression goes. As you can see from the chart, the tax dollars tend to come from higher wage states, the workers of which earn more and pay more taxes. If anyone has a reason to complain, it is blue states, the liberal ones that voted for Obama, for they are subsidizing the red ones. 

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