Federal Help for the States

According to the nonprofit Tax Foundation, many of Republican-leaning states rely more heavily on federal aid that Democratic-leaning states.

By Michael Spragins, Stafford County Democratic Committee Issues Committee Chair

A few years ago, during the 2012 campaign, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney derisively used the terms “makers” and “takers” when referring to people who supposedly added value to the economy and those who depended on welfare or other government aid. Well, President Trump and Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell seem to be using the same idea when they refer to states. State governments are running out of money due to the costs associated with the Coronavirus. They must pay unemployment insurance and other costs while revenues from sales and other taxes are dropping rapidly. States must balance their budgets, while the federal government does not. States have been asking Congress for help to support their citizens, but Trump claims that such help would only go to “poorly run” Democratic-led states. He said, “Why should the people and taxpayers of America be bailing out poorly run states and cities, in all cases Democrat run and managed, when most of the other states are not looking for bailout help?” McConnell claimed that it would be a “Blue State bailout” for places like New York and New Jersey. In other words, Democratic-run states who needed federal funds were “takers” and thus, Republican-run states were the “makers”.

Since Republicans seem to like the “maker” and “taker” terminology, let’s see which states fall into which categories.  It seems that ruby red Kentucky is the greatest “taker” state in the Union. In 2018 Kentucky received more than $148 billion more than it paid in taxes to the federal government. Meanwhile, New York sent $116 billion more to the federal government than it received. New Jersey sent $71 billion more to Washington than it received back. In fact, of the top ten “taker” states, Red Republican states such as Kentucky, West Virginia, Alaska, Mississippi, Alabama, and Maine take six of the spots. Virginia, Maryland and Hawaii are on the list, but their presence is due to the high concentration of federal government installations, contractors and workers in those states.

So, don’t let the overblown rhetoric, and outright lies, of Trump and McConnell blind us to the fact that all states, red and blue, need federal funds to weather the Coronavirus storm. Red states probably even more than blue.

This is a post by a member of the Stafford County Democratic Committee. This post does not necessarily reflect the views of the Stafford County Democratic Committee, the Democratic Party of Virginia, or the Democratic Party of America.