Decision to help states should be based on need, period

Turning the pandemic into a partisan issue — "Blue State Bailouts" — only sews divisiveness.

By

Opinion

April 30, 2020 - 10:55 AM

Artist Corie Mattie paints a mural that says "Cancel Plans. Not Humanity" on the side of a pop-up store in West Hollywood on March 25. Photo by Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times/TNS

It’s long been a myth that conservative-leaning states are better at fiscal management and as such “carry their own weight.”

Conservatives leaders — specifically Sen. Mitch McConnell and President Donald Trump — are spinning that claim not only to deny requests by states hit hard by the pandemic but also to further divide us as a country.

According to McConnell, Republican-leaning “red” states are being taken advantage of by their “blue” counterparts in a request to Congress by the National Governors Association for $500 billion in response to the pandemic. 

McConnell has termed the request as “Blue State Bailouts,” and suggested those deeply affected by the pandemic declare bankruptcy if they are so inept. McConnell would rather eat worms than support funding for the densely populated and Democratic-leaning states of New York, 20 million population, Michigan, 10 million, and California, 40 million. 

President Trump followed McConnell’s lead by tweeting “Why should the people and taxpayers of America be bailing out poorly run states (like Illinois, for example) …. in all cases Democrat run and managed, when most of the other states are not looking for bailout help?”

That’s the unifying spirit, Mr. President.

TRUMP & CO., prefer to ignore the big picture, which is that there are a handful of states, including New York, that send more the government’s way in taxes than they get back in return through federal grants and services. 

They are givers, not takers.

For a New Yorker, the return on his $1 investment is 91 cents. Why the imbalance? New Yorkers pay more in federal taxes, while taking — or requesting — less in federal subsidies.

Other “giver” states are New Jersey, Massachusetts and Connecticut, and to lesser degrees, Colorado, Minnesota, Utah and Nebraska. Those that balance out even are California, Illinois and Washington. 

The remaining states rely on a greater degree of federal subsidies to make ends meet.

In Kansas, for every $1 we send Washington’s way, we get $1.22 in return for things like crop subsidies and money for school lunch programs, highway maintenance, community development, etc. 

What’s curious is that Mr. McConnell’s state of Kentucky gets $2.41 in return for every $1 it sends Washington’s way. In fact, Kentucky is ranked fifth in the nation as the most dependent on federal monies.

McConnell is aware. Heck, that’s why he’s been in office 35 years. He knows how to work the machine. 

And while we don’t necessarily begrudge Kentucky for its federal haul — in fact we’re a little jealous — all it shows is that it’s helped itself to a bigger piece of the pie to which every state contributes.

WHEN CATASTROPHE strikes — hurricanes Harvey and Katrina, the tornado in Tulsa, California wildfires — the proper response is to come to each other’s aid. 

To make this a partisan issue is a travesty to the more than 60,000 Americans who have lost their lives to the pandemic, the 1.2 million currently battling the virus, and the millions who have lost their jobs or whose businesses are suffering.

Kansas has so far lost 125 lives to the coronavirus and is facing a projected $1.3 billion drop in depleted sales tax revenues because of stalled or canceled business activity.

We will need help to get back on our feet. 

That’s all the proof we should have to give. 

— Susan Lynn

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