George Will Gets It Backward

This one comes courtesy of the Department of Old Myths Die Hard, and was passed on to us by an alert reader. In his Sunday column in The Washington Post (which is syndicated to numerous other papers), George Will wrote that “Both parties understand the political calculus: People dependent on government tend to vote for liberals promising to enlarge government.”

Apparently, Will hadn’t read an analysis written for The New York Times Op-Ed page last Friday by Daniel Pink, former chief speechwriter for Vice President Al Gore. Using data gathered by the Tax Foundation, Pink groups the 50 states into two categories: Givers and Takers. He writes: “Giver states get back less than a dollar in spending for every dollar they contribute to federal coffers. Taker states pocket more than a dollar for every tax dollar they send to Washington. Thirty-three states are Takers; 16 are Givers.” (Indiana is the one state that breaks even, with an equal amount of taxes paid and spending received.)

Those reading Will’s column might expect that in the 2000 presidential election, Republicans, the party of low taxes and limited government, would have carried the disgruntled Giver states — while Democrats, the party of wild spending and bureaucracy run amok, would have appealed to the Taker states. “But it was the reverse,” writes Pink. “George W. Bush was the candidate of the Taker states. Al Gore was the candidate of the Giver states.”

Of the 33 Taker states, reports Pink, President George W. Bush carried 25. Of the 16 Giver states, Gore carried 12. Pink also notes that seventy-eight percent of Bush’ electoral votes came from Taker states and 76 percent of Gore’s from Giver states.

“Republicans seem to have become the new welfare party,” opines Pink, “their constituents live off tax dollars paid by people who vote Democratic.” That’s partisan spin, of course — but the numbers he cites are not.


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Susan Q. Stranahan wrote for CJR.