In the final days of their ill-fated campaign, John McCain and Sarah Palin ran around the country warning everyone that Barack Obama’s tax plan amounted to a socialistic scheme to take money from certain groups of people and give it to certain other groups.
McCain is not so stupid that he actually saw Obama’s plan as Marxism or anything of the sort, but he seems to have figured that the booboisie would buy it. After all, some people just don’t understand that every tax at every level amounts to redistribution of wealth. Call it socialism, if you like, but it’s an inescapable fact of all forms of government.
The U.S. government, for example, takes in boatloads of tax revenues and then spends all that money on various projects and programs. The money, in effect, gets redistributed. In that sense, McCain was not entirely wrong when he said that Obama was running for the job of “redistributionist-in-chief” (a line that prompted great chortling among McCainiacs who considered it a deft put-down).
But there’s one way of looking at this federal redistributionism that’s never mentioned by the likes of McCain or Palin. I refer to the division of the 50 states into separate groups of giver states and taker states.
The giver states are those that pay more in federal taxes than they get back in federal spending. The taker states are those that get back more in federal spending than they pay in federal taxes.
According to the latest available data from the Tax Foundation, Obama’s home state of Illinois is a giver state. It gets back only 75 cents for every dollar it pays in federal taxes. On the other hand, McCain’s home state of Arizona is a taker state. It gets $1.19 back for every dollar it pays in federal taxes.
Now, here’s where this dichotomy becomes even more interesting: Of the 22 states McCain carried in the recent election, 21 of them are taker states. Obama carried 11 taker states (about half as many as McCain), but he also carried 16 of the 17 giver states.
Looking at it another way, 139 of McCain’s 173 electoral votes came from taker states while 243 of Obama’s 365 electoral votes came from giver states.
Similarly stark patterns pertained in the presidential elections of 2000 and 2004. George W. Bush won most of his electoral votes from taker states while Al Gore and John Kerry won most of theirs from giver states.
So, there you have it. Republican presidential candidates, with all their scary rhetoric about the Democrats’ socialist agenda, do much better among voters in states that reap the lion’s share of benefits from the federal government’s redistribution programs. The conservative states generally are leeching off taxpayers in the more liberal states.
How’s that for hypocrisy?