Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 18, 2003
By: Kevin Drum

RED AND BLUE REVISITED....Responding to my rant about blue states subsidizing red states, Megan McArdle makes a couple of points, one of them reasonable and one of them...um, not.

The reasonable point is that much of the disparity between the givers and takers is simply due to the fact that blue states are generally richer than red states, and a progressive tax system means their tax burden is naturally going to be higher too. Fair enough: it's quite true that urban Democratic blue states trend richer and more prosperous than rural Republican red states. I'll leave it up to my readers to decide if there's a connection there.

But then, after suggesting that it's all too easy to move in the direction of transferring income to poor red states just write a check to the charity of your choice if the spirit moves you she suggests that it doesn't work so well in the other direction:

It's rather less easy for red-staters to shut off the largesse of others when it often comes in the form of military bases and federal land management agencies.

My goodness. Apparently the red states are simply being overwhelmed with federal goodies that they don't know how to give back. But rather than try to come up with my own snarky response to this risible statement, how about if I let Joe Conason do it instead? Here he is in Big Lies:

During negotiations over the 2003 budget after years of listening to spokesmen for the Republican Study Committee complain about wasteful spending items while the group's members privately clamored for pork their Republican colleagues finally had enough....These legislators were sick of conservatives who held up passage of crucial budget bills, supposedly because of concerns about excess spending, while those very same conservatives approached them privately asking for special multimillion-dollar earmarks.

....The case of Robert Aderholt, an ultraconservative Republican from Alabama, illustrates this amusing facet of right wing fakery. During 2002, as he prepared to run for reelection, Aderholt sent out press releases boasting of more than forty-two special projects in his district, at a cost to taxpayers of more than $25 million. The federal government was even paying to repair the sidewalk outside a local school, normally a local function paid for by local taxpayers. But as The Hill reported, with deadpan irony, Aderholt had also received a "Hero of the Taxpayer" award in April 2002 from Americans for Tax Reform, a "nonpartisan" organization headed by Grover Norquist, one of the leading Republican operatives in the capital.

What Aderholt did in his district, the Republican leadership does all over the country. An exhaustive Associated Press study of federal spending in 2002 showed that....in the average district, the additional bounty for having a Republican congressman comes to about $612 million. The Democrats were never so bold. When they still controlled the House in 1994, the average Democratic district received only $35 million more than the average Republican district.

So perhaps red states are more than just innocent bystanders when it comes to hoovering up the "largesse of others" after all? Sounds more like aggravated assault to me.

And that completes my trifecta of excerpts from recent books focused on the propensity of the Bush administration and the radical right in general for lying. Conason even refers to me in the acknowledgements as an "astute blogger," so he gets double thanks for yeoman duty in the trenches this year. Thanks, Joe!

Kevin Drum 3:01 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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