Saturday, December 4, 2010

Welfare Queens

It's an open secret that pork-hating red states receive more money in federal spending than their Democratic brethren (Sarah Palin's Alaska is a particularly bad offender). Shankar Vedantam now has an eyebrow-raising explanation for the discrepancy:

Buried in the fine print of Newt Gingrich's "Contract With America," Richardson found an income redistribution scheme. The proportion of government spending on groups that traditionally supported Democrats fell. The proportion of government income from groups that traditionally supported Democrats rose.

"Tax rates declined more for groups that tended to vote Republican. These groups include people with incomes in the upper tail of the distribution, such as small business owners, property owners, and investors accruing capital gains. … At the same time, expenditures fell more for programs directed toward people that tended to vote Democratic. These groups included welfare recipients, inner-city residents, and individuals in the lower tail of the income distribution."

There are some unsettling implications to this, hinted at towards the end of the article (emphasis mine):

In the public mind, Republicans became the party of fiscal rectitude, and Democrats became the group that raised taxes on hard-working Americans.

The term "hard-working Americans," as Hillary Clinton reminded us, is a dog whistle, the yin to the 'lazy black people' yang. Not only are Democrats accused of taking money from hard-working Americans, remember, they're also accused of doing so to redistribute it to social parasites. The post-1994 Republicans' grievances about unfair taxes, their attacks on welfare, and especially the current unemployment benefits hostage-taking when it comes to tax cuts for the rich, is not about balancing the budget, to say the least.

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