I read the other day that the 400 richest Americans possess more wealth than the poorest 140 million.This seems like a good moment to remind people about the cabal of conservatives who in 1969 dubbed themselves “The Famous Five” and created “The Plan” that would lead to the conservative ascendency of the past four decades. Herewith a link to a piece I wrote a few years ago about this little-known history. I still have the papers referred to in this essay, and I suppose that one day I’ll get around to publishing a book on this topic. Meanwhile, here are some fragments of the amazing story:
In these times that try men’s souls, I call on all Blue State citizens to surrender to the Tea Party.
I likewise call on all progressive Democrats in the Blue States and on their representatives in Congress to lay down their arms. To meet with the Tea Party at Appomattox and accede to their demands immediately. Agree to cut federal taxes. Agree to cut federal spending. Agree to Starve the Beast!
Then go home and quietly raise Blue State state taxes to make up the difference. And spend that state tax money at home, in the Blue States.
Within a few months, the rattlesnakes of the Red States will come crawling back and beg us to raise federal taxes again. In doing so, they’ll be begging to be readmitted to the United States of America.
For the fact is that the great majority of the Red States are helplessly dependent on the federal tax dollars they drain — yes, like Zombies — from the throats of the Blue States. Even as they rail against federal taxes and the federal government, they benefit from these far more than their neighbors in the Blue States. Without the flow of Blue State dollars into their Red State coffers, they would have to raise their own state taxes to stratospheric levels – and then watch as a stampede of businesses and upper-income citizens fled for the Blue States.
All of the 6 wealthiest states that give the most tax dollars to poorer states are Blue.
Of the remaining 19 wealthy states that give more tax dollars than they take, 13 are Blue.
Of the 31 poorer states that take more federal tax dollars than they give, 2/3s are Red.
All of these claims substantiated here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_taxation_and_spending_by_state
Of the 135 politicians (Congressmen, Senators, Governors, etc.) affiliated with the Tea Party: 75 are from “taker” states, 40 are from “giver” states. That is, “takers” outnumber “givers” nearly 2-1.
Of the 49 Congressmen in the Tea Party Caucus of the 112th-113th Congress: 24 come from 7 “giver” states and 25 from 14 “taker” states. (What somewhat softens these numbers is the very high proportion of Tea Party members from Texas, a “giver” state.)
These claims are substantiated here:
So, what if the Blue State “givers” agreed with the Red State “takers” to reduce federal taxes and basically stopped giving their federal tax dollars to the Red States?
Well … one awful consequence would be that the poorest citizens of those Red states would suffer terribly. But would they then make common cause with each other – across racial lines – as racial animosities melted away in recognition of a common plight? It’s hard to say.
One thing is sure. Right now many Red State politicians get to have things both ways: they can loudly fight for lower taxes while quietly benefitting from their disproportionate share of federal tax disbursements. Would they continue to shrill against “Big Government” if the flow of Blue State dollars fertilizing their economies slowed to a trickle and dried up?
What we’re seeing here is a fiscal equivalent of the notorious 3/5ths clause of the Constitution. That, too, allowed many southern (now Red) states to have it both ways: to count their slaves populations for purposes of proportional representation in Congress but to deny those very slaves citizenship, enfranchisement, and even personhood.
The fact that the Red States depend on a revenue flow of Blue State dollars may also explain one of those mysteries Republicans never want to talk about: why since 1980, the federal budget deficit soars when a Republican is president and dips when a Democrat is in office. (Obama is the exception because he inherited a recession and the War in Iraq from Bush.)
This claim is substantiated here:
Republican politicians love to talk to talk. Shout the shout, I should say. But they know that if they actually walked the walk, their constituencies would suddenly find themselves with no money to pave roads, no money to build schools and sidewalks, no money to run county hospitals, no money to build enormous new sports stadiums, and the list goes on and on ….
Maybe it’s time for Democrats and progressives in the Blue States to call them out – by surrendering to them.