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Squeeze Maryland Juice get Fallacy

Last month David Moon at Maryland Juice cut and pasted an argument stating that red states are “the biggest welfare queens ever.” This is of course total hogwash as Marc Kilmer pointed out on MPPI’s policy blog.

One main problem with this analysis is that it equates “voters” with “states.” …

A more revealing statistic would be to see how those individuals who receive large amounts of government payments vote. Do people who receive TANF vote Democratic or Republican? How do government contractors vote? What about federal employees?…

The statistics cited by the Maryland Juice blogger don’t prove this, though. They are a crude measurement that simply measures states; they don’t capture the actions of individuals.

There are also other dynamics at work in the data—if you bothered to look beyond typing an argument from another blog in order to promote a fallacy.

Veronique de Rugy at Reason notes there are several reasons for this Red State/Blue State paradox.

One reason is that red states due to their lower population have on average more representation per capita in Congress and have an edge in wrangling federal dollars. Another is that most red states are lower income states and therefore due to the progressive income tax pay less in federal taxes. The flip side is of course that a lot of blue states are higher income and higher population states and have more people, and higher earners paying in.

Ranking the states according to the Tax Foundation’s data on federal taxes paid bears this out. Ranking the states according to federal money received shows the same blue states ranking near the top in that category as well.

The data doesn’t reveal much about ideology of the states or the voters so much as it does the peculiarities of each state or region. Take Maryland for instance, a deep blue state, which takes in more in federal tax revenue than it pays in. However, that isn’t “welfare” as Moon likes to call it. The disparity in what Maryland pays and what it takes is in part due to the state’s large federal workforce and more importantly federal contracting dollars. Maryland’s economy is intrinsically tied to federal spending, and that’s not a good thing.

The federal government owns a lot of land in western states and tax revenue is funneled back to those states through the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. Indeed, five of the top-ten “welfare queens” are western states.

A 2007 paper by Andrew Gelman Boris Shor “Rich State, Poor State, Red State, Blue State” gets more at Kilmer’s question about individual voters. They find that that income is a factor in red states—the rich tend to vote Republican—and less so in blue states. Factors other than income matters to rich voters in blue states.

This goes along way to explain what’s the matter with Montgomery County? Montgomery has over 40 percent of the state’s families making over $250,000, and generates over 80 percent of the state’s revenue. They are the ATM for Annapolis spending. Yet they still vote against their economic interests and for politicians who continue to raid their wallets. As Blair Lee wrote on the eve of the 2007 special session, “Montgomery’s state lawmakers support the governor’s income tax plan because it’s ‘‘progressive,” it taxes the wealthy who mostly live in Montgomery. So, as usual, our representatives place principle over politics. Taxing ourselves more is the right thing to do, they say.”

If, as Thomas Frank argued, the GOP duped Kansans into ignoring their own economic interests and vote Republican based on cultural issues, then how does he explain rich Marylanders voting against their economic interests?

All this complicates young master Moon’s rather pedestrian argument. Of course, he wasn’t interested in making an argument rather than regurgitating Democratic talking points.

Moon did respond to MPPI’s criticism, the short version of it is: “OMG THEY ARE FUNDED BY THE KOCH BROTHERS,” without actually providing any evidence MPPI is funded by the Koch brothers.







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