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“The Real Moochers”: Obama Supporters Subsidize Romney Supporters With Their Taxes

In a video posted yesterday, Mitt Romney slammed the people who support President Obama, saying they are most likely “dependent on government.” Romney’s comments were recorded as he spoke at to an exclusive group of donors at a private meeting. Obama’s fans think of themselves as “victims,” he said. They believe they are “entitled to healthcare, to food, to housing, to you name it.” He added, “My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

Many on both left and right have criticized Romney for his lack of empathy and rejection of the social contract. However, it’s easy to understand why Romney might view America this way. After all, Republicans supposedly represent those with more money, and Democrats supposedly represent those with less—sometimes much less. It’s plausible that Romney’s supporters would pick up the tab (through their taxes) for social programs that benefit Obama’s supporters. For the same reason, it’s plausible that Red states would subsidize Blue states, and Red counties would subsidize Blue counties where the poor people live.

But, although it’s plausible, it’s completely wrong. When Romney says his job isn’t to care about those who depend on government for healthcare, food, and housing, he’s talking about his base. Across America, Obama’s supporters actually subsidize Romney’s supporters.

Blue States Subsidize Red States

Studies show that states that elect Democrats contribute the most in federal taxes relative to what they consume in government services. Conversely, many states that elect Republicans contribute the least in taxes relative to the services they consume. This is true even though many Democratic states contain large, poor, urban populations of color.

Here’s the evidence: The 10 “Tax Producing States” listed below, left, contribute the most in tax revenues relative to the services they consume. They usually vote Democratic. The ten “Tax Dependent States” listed below consume the most in government services relative to the taxes they pay. And they usually vote Republican. (Each state’s name is shown in blue if voters there lean toward Obama, and red if they lean toward Romney, as per Nate Silver’s 538 blog.)

Red States vs. Blue States

More detailed analysis confirms this pattern. Even the libertarians at the journal Reason acknowledge this so-called “Red/Blue Paradox.”

Blue Counties Subsidize Red Counties

The same imbalance prevails within states, at the county level. The Blue counties contribute the most state taxes relative to the services they consume. The Red counties consume the most services relative to the taxes they pay. For example, a recent study documented the pattern in Washington state. King County, the solidly-Democratic county that surrounds Seattle, provides “nearly 42% of the state’s tax revenues, yet receives only 25% of the money spend from Washington’s general fund.” Conversely, five counties that require the most in services relative to the taxes they pay are largely Republican.

California shows a similar pattern. Republican Modoc and Tulare Counties consume the most in taxpayer-funded services from the state on a per-capita basis. Says San Francisco Chronicle writer Kevin Fagan: “The prevailing attitude among the right-wing ranchers and modern hippies who define Modoc County is of fierce self-reliance—but more people here than just about anywhere else depend on welfare checks of some kind to get by.” In contrast, famously liberal San Francisco and Marin Counties generate the most tax revenues for the state on a per capita basis.

Why Red States Need Blue State’s Tax Dollars

Why do people in Red states and counties resent government spending so passionately even as they need so much of it? The central problem is poverty. Many of the residents of these counties are poor. They are ill-prepared to make a decent living no matter how hard they tug on their own bootstraps. For example, in California’s conservative Modoc county only 12 percent of adults over 25 have a bachelor’s degree. Nearly 20 percent live below the poverty line. Many Modoc residents can’t afford to send their children to college. They need government programs to survive, let alone improve their financial outlook.

Without government support it’s hard to see a way to break the cycle of poverty and dependence. At least so far, the formula of small government, limited services, low investment, and low taxes that conservative states have implemented for themselves hasn’t helped their economies much. (See my earlier column.)

This situation would be funny if it weren’t so tragic. When a tax protester yelled “Keep your goddamn government hands off my Medicare” many scoffed at that one person’s ignorance. But most Americans who rail against taxes and the size of government are profoundly unaware that taxes they hate fund the programs they want and need. And they are unaware that the states and counties inhabited by “welfare queens” and “freeloading illegals” are actually sending them the money that keeps them fed, cared for, and educated.

Put It to a Vote

Let’s put the question of a tax rates to a national referendum and see what Americans really want. Allow voters in each county to decide whether to keep their state and federal taxes at their current level or to lower them. The catch is this: If you vote to lower your taxes then your county or state can’t take out any more money than it puts in. Perhaps this would make everyone happy. Red counties would get the lower taxes and vastly reduced services they want. And people in Blue counties (once they stop trying to give their money to people who don’t want to receive it) would keep more of their hard-earned cash, and enjoy vastly better-funded local services. Let’s give it a try.

 

By: David Brodwin, U. S. News and World Report, September 18, 2012

September 21, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Changing Demographics: The GOP’s Census Problem

When the Census released its reapportionment totals in December, much of the focus was on the new seats in red states, and how it was a good thing for Republicans.

The data released by Census on Thursday, though, shows how those same population shifts are creating new challenges for the GOP.

While much of the shifting population is moving to red states, there is increasing evidence that it’s making those red states bluer, and most of the demographic trends are heading in Democrats’ direction.

Census Bureau director Robert Groves summed it up best Thursday: “We are increasingly metropolitan today, our country is becoming racially and ethnically more diverse over time … and geographically, there are a lot of areas of the country growing in number that have large minority populations.”

All three of those things suggest growing Demcoratic constituencies. Let’s look at each individually:

* The country is getting less rural: While 82.8 percent of the population in 2000 lived in metropolitan areas, that number is now 83.7 percent. A look at population changes county-by-county shows that many rural counties, especially in the solidly Republican middle of the country, actually experienced population loss over the last decade, while most of the big population growth was near big cities, where Democrats dominate.

* The country is getting more diverse: The minority population has increased dramatically to 36.3 percent and will only keep going down that path, as only a slight majority of U.S. children are white. And Republicans have major problems with minority populations. The black vote generally goes almost completely for Democrats, and even in the GOP wave in 2010, six in 10 Hispanics voted Democratic.

* The areas that are getting bigger are Democratic: A look at the states with the biggest growth over the past decade shows many of them have moved toward Democrats, including Nevada, North Carolina and Virginia (Obama was a surprise winner in all three, which had gone for President Bush in 2004). A look at the county-by-county growth in these states shows that the growth is focused in urban and Democratic areas — Las Vegas-based Clark County, Charlotte-based Mecklenburg County and the Research Triangle in North Carolina, and Northern Virginia all grew the fastest. That suggests that the growth is occuring in Democratic areas.

Now, just because Democratic-leaning demographics grow doesn’t necessarily mean Democratic voters will be created. For all we know, rural Republicans are moving into the city and making them redder.

But if Republicans want to compete in the decades to come, they need to be able to compete in metropolitan areas — likely by reasserting their dominance in the suburbs — and also be able to woo Hispanics, who now account for one in six people in the United States.

If they can’t, the demographics are just going to make it harder and harder.

By: Aaron Blake and Chris Cillizza, The Washington Post, March 25, 2011

March 25, 2011 Posted by | Democrats, GOP, Politics, Republicans, States, U.S. Census | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

State Crises Mean New Language Of Deceit

For most of history, we had undebatable definitions of words such as “bailout” and “bankruptcy.” We understood the former as an undeserved public grant, and the latter as an inability to pay existing bills. Whatever your particular beliefs about these concepts, their meanings were at least agreed upon.

Sadly, that’s not the case during a deficit crisis that is seeing language redefined on ideological terms.

“Bailout” was the first word thrown into the Orwellian fire. As some lawmakers recently proposed replenishing depleted state coffers with federal dollars, the American Conservative Union urged Congress to oppose states “seek(ing) a bailout” from the feds. Now, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., says, “Should taxpayers in Indiana who have paid their bills on time, who have done their job fiscally be bailing out Californians who haven’t? No.”

Ryan, mind you, voted for 2008’s TARP program — a bank bailout in the purest sense of the term. But one lawmaker’s rank hypocrisy is less significant than how the word “bailout” is being used — and abused. Suddenly, the term suggests that federal aid would force taxpayers in allegedly “fiscally responsible” Republican states to underwrite taxpayers in supposedly irresponsible Democratic ones.

Aside from stoking a detestable interstate enmity, this thesis ignores the fact that state-to-state wealth transfers are already happening. According to the Tax Foundation, most Republican-voting states receive more in federal funding than they pay in federal taxes, while most Democratic-voting states receive less federal money than they pay in federal taxes.

That means traditionally blue states like California are now perpetually subsidizing — or in Ryan’s parlance, “bailing out” — traditionally red states like Indiana. Thus, federal aid to states could actually reduce the state-to-state subsidies conservatives say they oppose.

Congressional Republicans will undoubtedly ignore these facts. Their proposed solution to the budget emergency could instead be a Newt Gingrich-backed initiative letting states default on outstanding obligations by declaring bankruptcy. Again, the word is fraught with new connotations.

Whereas sick or laid-off individuals occasionally claim a genuine inability to repay debts and thus a need for bankruptcy protections, states can never legitimately claim such a need because they are never actually “bankrupt.” Why? Because they always posses the power to raise revenue. The power is called taxation — and destroying that authority is what the new bankruptcy idea is really about. It would let states avoid tax increases on the wealthy, renege on contractual promises to public employees and destroy the country’s creditworthiness.

Blocking state “bailouts” and letting states declare “bankruptcy” are radical notions, especially in a bad economy. One would result in recession-exacerbating public layoffs; the other would institutionalize an anti-tax zealotry that destroys tomorrow’s middle class in order to protect today’s rich. That’s why advocates of these ideas have resorted to manipulating language. They know the only way to make such extremism a reality is to distort the vernacular — and if we aren’t cognizant of their scheme, they will succeed.

By: David Sirota, Syndicated Columnist, Sun Journal-published March 8, 2011

March 11, 2011 Posted by | Bankruptcy, Budget, Deficits, Economy, Politics, State Legislatures | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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