Mini-Rumination: Red States and Green Money

There’s a scene in the late, great television series The West Wing in which Martin Sheen’s Jed Bartlet, essentially Bill Clinton without the zipper problem, is debating his challenger for re-election, Florida Governor Rob Ritchie, played by James Brolin channeling W at his disengaged worst.  The debate format allows the participants to ask questions of one another – yeah, like that’s ever gonna happen – and after Ritchie complains about the growth of the federal government, Bartlet responds as follows:

There are times when we’re fifty states and there are times when we’re one country, and have national needs.  And the way I know this is that Florida didn’t fight Germany in World War II or establish civil rights.  You think states should do the governing wall-to-wall. That’s a perfectly valid opinion.  But your state of Florida got $12.6 billion in federal money last year – from Nebraskans, and Virginians, and New Yorkers, and Alaskans, with their Eskimo poetry.  12.6 out of a state budget of $50 billion, and I’m supposed to be using this time for a question, so here it is:  Can we have it back, please?

(See a clip of this part of the debate here; the debate itself begins around the two-minute mark in the clip.  Find the screenplay here.)

The Curmudgeon thought of this recently when he read a report in Mother Jones magazine that pointed out that despite all their blustering about the growth of the evil federal government, the red states are not shy about taking that evil federal government’s money.  According to the magazine, the fifty states and the District of Columbia receive an average of $1.29 for every dollar they pay in federal taxes (ah, the insidious benefits of deficit spending).

Red states, though, are big winners in this grab for the federal gold:  of the ten biggest winners, half are pretty much red states that enjoy a handsome haul courtesy of the satan-worshipping communists in Washington:  West Virginia ($2.57), Mississippi ($2.47), Alabama ($2.03), Sarah Palin’s Alaskan welfare state ($1.93), Montana ($1.92), and South Carolina ($1.92).

So in the spirit of Jed Bartlet, The Curmudgeon now asks this of the residents of red states:  In light of how you feel about the growth of the federal budget and the federal government, can we have this money back please?

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