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Rick Perry: Secessionist or closet liberal?

Robert Reich, professor of public policy | August 31, 2011

Of all the nonsense Texas Governor Rick Perry spews about states’ rights and the tenth amendment, his dumbest is the notion that states should go it alone. “We’ve got a great Union,” he said at a Tea Party rally in Austin in April 2009. “There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that.”

The core of his message isn’t outright secession, though. It’s that the locus of governmental action ought to be at the state rather than the federal level. “It is essential to our liberty,” he writes in his book, Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America from Washington, “that we be allowed to live as we see fit through the democratic process at the local and state level.”

Perry doesn’t like the Federal Reserve Board. He hates the Internal Revenue Service even more. Presumably if he had his way taxpayers would pay states rather than the federal government for all the services and transfer payments they get.

This might be a good deal for Texas. According to the most recent data from the Tax Foundation, the citizens of Texas receive only 94 cents from the federal government for every tax dollar they send to Washington.

But it would be a bad deal for most other red states. On average, citizens of states with strong Republican majorities get back more from the federal government than they pay in. Kentucky receives $1.51 from Washington for every dollar its citizens pay in federal taxes. Alabama gets back $1.66. Louisiana receives $1.78. Alaska, $1.84. Mississippi, $2.02. Arizona, $1.19. Idaho, $1.21. South Carolina, $1.35. Oklahoma, $1.36. Arkansas, $1.41. Montana, $1.47, Nebraska, $1.10. Wyoming, $1.11. Kansas, $1.12.

On the other hand, fiscal secession would be a boon to most blue states. The citizens of California – harder hit by the recession than most – receive from Washington only 78 cents for every tax dollar they send to Washington. New Yorkers get back only 79 cents on every tax dollar they send in. Massachusetts, 82 cents. Michigan, 92 cents. Oregon, 98 cents.

In other words, blue states are subsidizing red states. The federal government is like a giant sump pump – pulling dollars out of liberal enclaves like California, New York, Massachusetts, and Oregon – and sending them to conservative places like Montana, Idaho, Oklahoma, Arizona, Wyoming, Kansas, Nebraska, and the Old South.

As a practical matter, then, Rick Perry’s fight to save America from Washington is really a secret plan to save blue states from red states.

Perry, it turns out, is a closet liberal.

Cross-posted from Robert Reich’s blog

Comments to “Rick Perry: Secessionist or closet liberal?

  1. Stay in the box. Keep drinking the blue kool aid. Reich is simply reiterating that blue states are the establishment- the dark limosines, inaccessible, cliquey, artificial, elitist, large and in-charge. The red states are simple states that need help and are not afraid or smug to ask for help because they fully know they are not ‘the establishment’ and cannot enjoy the opportunities that come with status. But these days, blue states are not helping anymore because they have their own local/state crises right now. Red states understand that and are willing to explore the idea of going their own way. Sometimes an apple is just an apple, Reich.

  2. “But it would be a bad deal for most other red states. On average, citizens of states with strong Republican majorities get back more from the federal government than they pay in.”

    Not “a bad deal”, here is why:

    If that statistic is correct, then I would say that that is the perfect place to be for a Conservative. Why? First, being that conservatives can’t help but be robbed by the social welfare inducing federal government – I see a nice little pay back to the tax payers. Second, if there is a “financial secession” from the federal government then all the moochers would have to leave because it was the federal government that was propping them up in the first place. — No money, no honey, no home! STOP ALL FEDERAL GOODIES NOW! And say good riddance to the moochers in the red states. That would be great, they would all fly the coup to the nearest freebie hole. Here ya’ go Massachusetts, California, Vermont, New York, etc… Ha Ha

  3. Dear Prof Reich,
    How much money does California send to the Feds?
    It would help if you would please help organize all of our California representatives in D.C. and get back our 22 cents/dollar(and please, without strings attached).
    Maybe it would balance the California state and U.C. budgets at the same time?
    With thanks and best wishes,

  4. A “fake and a side show” I can get my head around. “Created to take votes from Ron Paul” implies that Ron Paul was a viable candidate – hardly.

  5. He was Al Gore’s campaign manager. He supported Hilary Clinton’s health care plan. He is a fake and a side show. He was created to take votes from Ron Paul.

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