Often, we are numbed by the “slings and arrows” launched by politicians opposing or supporting a particular position. Then, sometimes, a deeper dive into the weeds from which the assaults are blasted into media space produces surprising results. Recent trench warfare has erupted along the “red state/blue state” redoubt with the GOP and its leadership mounting a barrage of attacks on federal funds for blue states as bailouts of mismanaged governments.
Virginia was the number one state receiving a disproportionate share of federal weal than that which it provides to Uncle Sam.
One surprising result was the discovery that Virginia was the number one state receiving a disproportionate share of federal wealth than that which it provides to Uncle Sam. A 2019 report by the Rockefeller Institute, analyzing data for all 50 states from 2017, demonstrated that the balance of payments between the federal government and the Old Dominion was $10,031 per person in the Commonwealth’s favor (https://rockinst.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/1-22-20-Balance-of-Payments.pdf). In simpler terms, that exchange means for every dollar sent to the feds in taxes, Virginia received $2.12 in return. Of course, there are those who challenge the blueness of Virginia, even in 2017. In second place, for most favorable balance of payments, was Kentucky, at $9,145 per person, and Florida’s $2,187.
Several “badly managed” traditionally blue states, however, according to the Rockefeller report, contributed more to the feds than they received. For example, Connecticut was negative to the tune of ($4,000) per person; New Jersey ($2,368); Massachusetts ($2,342); and the always popular New York ($1,792).
Previously, VoxFairfax discussed the danger canards posed to civil dialogue (Quackery with Canards, March 30, 2020; https://wp.me/p9wDCF-1dG), especially those misleading statements intended to pass as political wisdom or editorial opinion. At the same time, we are unaware of any scientific data or studies that have offered information on the life expectancy of canards. So, when the US Senate’s majority leader expressed his firm opposition to provision of federal funds to cities and states to plug the revenue shortfalls caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, many minds, and a few pens, rushed to remind folks of Gerald Ford’s infamy with respect to denying such aid to New York City, a message captured by the Big Apple’s New York Daily News front page headline: FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD.
On October 29, 1975, a red canard was hatched from Ford’s speech to the National Press Club. In that address, the President lectured the audience that, among other things, it was his opinion that New York City might be an “obsolescent” entity, fraught with perilous public policies. Arguing that “better management” of the Democratic-controlled urban center was the solution, Ford concluded that he would “veto any bill providing federal funds to prevent default.”
For 45 years since, this novel red canard has been woven into the menu of GOP orthodoxy. On April 22, 2020, the Senate majority leader (McConnell, R-KY) announced that he and his GOP were opposed to any legislation to “bail out” blue states due to the economic pressures caused by the pandemic, offering instead modified legislation for them to choose bankruptcy. McConnell had merely parroted the long-standing canard created by President Ford.
The red state/blue state canard received close attention during the lead up to the 2017 campaign to pass the tax cut legislation championed by the GOP. At times, the messaging became confusing. Paul Ryan said the rest of the country is “propping up profligate, big-government states. States that got their act together are paying for states that didn’t.” Treasury Secretary Mnuchin observed, “We are getting the federal government out of the business of subsidizing states. That is going to impact high-tax states.” They were referring, of course, to traditionally Democratic states with substantial urban centers.
In a December 2017 article, Fox News quoted both administration advocates and added economic information that, surprisingly, contradicted their assertions:
- Connecticut residents paid an average of $15,643 per person in federal taxes in 2015, according to the Rockefeller report. Massachusetts paid $13,582 per person, New Jersey paid $13,137, and New York paid $12,820.
- At the other end, Mississippi residents paid an average of $5,740 per person, while West Virginia paid $6,349, Kentucky paid $6,626, and South Carolina paid $6,665. Low-tax red states also fare better when you take into account federal spending.
- Mississippi received $2.13 for every tax dollar the state sent to Washington in 2015, according to the Rockefeller study. West Virginia received $2.07, Kentucky got $1.90, and South Carolina got $1.71. New Jersey received 74 cents in federal spending for every dollar the state sent to Washington. New York received 81 cents, Connecticut received 82 cents, and Massachusetts received 83 cents.
It appears that the feathers of the red canard reflect somewhat different colors in the light of day.
It appears that the feathers of the red canard reflect somewhat different colors in the light of day. This debate was, of course, intensified and exacerbated by P45 in a tweet on April 27 of this year:
Why should the people and taxpayers of America be bailing out poorly run states (like Illinois, as example) and cities, in all cases Democrat run and managed, when most of the other states are not looking for bailout help?
In a May 5 interview with the New York Post, P45 stated, “I don’t think they (Congress) [are] inclined to do bailouts. It’s not fair to the Republicans because all the states that need help – they’re run by Democrats in every case. I don’t think the Republicans want to be in a position where they bail out states that are, that have been mismanaged over a long period of time.”
So it goes that, despite deadly research data to the contrary, some canards survive extinction, especially red ones.