So, with all the Republican animus toward the federal government, you might think that red states get less than their fair share from Uncle Sam — that they pay a lot in taxes and get fewer benefits in return than blue states. In fact, the opposite is true.
A study by the Rockefeller Institute of Government found that traditional Democratic states contributed significantly more federal taxes per citizen than Republican states. Here are the numbers for some blue states: Connecticut ($15,643), Massachusetts ($13,582), New Jersey ($13,137), New York ($12,820) and California ($10,510). And for some red states: Mississippi ($5,740), West Virginia ($6,349), Kentucky ($6,626) and South Carolina ($6,665).
And yet, these same Republican states receive far more in federal dollar expenditures than they contribute in taxes. For example, Mississippi received $2.07 for every tax dollar it sends to Washington, Kentucky $2.89, Virginia $2.24, West Virginia $2.15, Mississippi $2.09, Alaska $2.07 and South Carolina $1.71. Florida, a Republican state, received $1.24 for every dollar it paid in federal taxes.
Red states, on average, rank significantly higher than blue states when it comes to freeloading off other states. But why are blue states significantly less dependent on federal largess? Because blue states contribute far more to the U.S. economy than red states. On balance, their workers are more skilled and better educated.
Other metrics also show that blue states outperform the red states. Per capita GDP is 29 percent higher in Democratic-led states. In 2020, Donald Trump carried 2,497 counties across the country that together generate 29 percent of the country’s GDP, according to the Brookings Institution. President Joe Biden won just 477 counties, but together they generate 71 percent of GDP.
Some conservatives are so aggrieved by liberalism that they would rather have their own country by breaking up the United States. Before we entertain such a notion, let’s begin an experiment. For the next five years let each state get back the same amount it sends to the federal government. No more or no less.
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Then let’s see which states are faring better and which are not. The chasm will only widen. Why? Because red states will have fewer dollars to spend while blue states will have more to spend.
So, next time conservatives talk about “owning” the libs, they might want to employ a different verb.
Murad Antia, now retired taught finance at the Muma College of Business, University of South Florida (USF), Tampa. Read the study at bit.ly/3GMnbqP.