Guess which counties are the welfare queens

Republicans complain about taxes, but the data show that, with a few exceptions, Republican-leaning counties in Washington State take in more in state revenues than they pay in taxes.

The following graph plots conservativeness (on the x axis, as measured by the proportion of voters in that county who voted for Mitt Romney in 2012 versus Barack Obama) against welfare (as measured by the ratio of state revenue received to state taxes paid). Raw data and sources are listed further below.  Click on the image for a bigger view.

Who are the welfare queens? Conservatives or liberals

With the exception of Garfield County (conservative and low welfare ratio, population 2,226 in 2012) and Thurston County (liberal and high welfare ratio, population 252,000 in 2010), the counties that voted for President Romney in 2012 generally receive more in state revenues than they pay in taxes. In particular, liberal King County (population 1,900,000 in 2010) subsidizes the counties out east.

Method: to determine the conservativeness of a county, I aggregated by county the votes for Mitt Romney divided by the votes for Barack Obama from the Washington Secretary of States 2012 election results here.

To determine how much welfare a county receives I used the data in the third table (“GF -S Expenditures (Averages of Methods 1&2) and Tax Revenues Distribution By County (FY 2011)”) from the state Office of Fiscal Management’s State Expenditures and Revenues by County.

+--------------+------------------+---------+
| county       | conservativeness | welfare |
+--------------+------------------+---------+
| Garfield     |           2.7173 |    0.51 |
| Columbia     |           2.4310 |    0.96 |
| Lincoln      |           2.4286 |    1.27 |
| Adams        |           2.0591 |    1.42 |
| Grant        |           1.9946 |    1.21 |
| Douglas      |           1.8244 |    1.15 |
| Stevens      |           1.7638 |    1.81 |
| Benton       |           1.7574 |    0.79 |
| Franklin     |           1.6371 |    1.64 |
| Lewis        |           1.6150 |    1.33 |
| Pend Oreille |           1.5758 |    1.47 |
| Ferry        |           1.5417 |     1.6 |
| Walla Walla  |           1.4996 |    1.86 |
| Asotin       |           1.4124 |    1.11 |
| Chelan       |           1.4034 |    0.87 |
| Okanogan     |           1.2973 |    1.36 |
| Yakima       |           1.2716 |    1.87 |
| Kittitas     |           1.2306 |    1.07 |
| Klickitat    |           1.1562 |    0.94 |
| Spokane      |           1.1270 |    1.35 |
| Whitman      |           1.0585 |    2.21 |
| Wahkiakum    |           1.0229 |    1.47 |
| Skamania     |           1.0225 |    1.17 |
| Clark        |           0.9954 |     1.3 |
| Clallam      |           0.9923 |    1.24 |
| Cowlitz      |           0.9129 |    1.13 |
| Island       |           0.9128 |    0.82 |
| Skagit       |           0.8739 |    0.76 |
| Mason        |           0.8643 |     1.8 |
| Pierce       |           0.7964 |    1.37 |
| Pacific      |           0.7878 |    1.65 |
| Kitsap       |           0.7855 |    1.02 |
| Whatcom      |           0.7480 |     0.8 |
| Grays Harbor |           0.7465 |    1.46 |
| Snohomish    |           0.7056 |     0.9 |
| Thurston     |           0.6657 |    3.08 |
| Jefferson    |           0.5028 |    0.86 |
| San Juan     |           0.4366 |    0.35 |
| King         |           0.4127 |    0.58 |
+--------------+------------------+---------+
39 rows in set (0.00 sec)

References

State Expenditures and Revenues by County.

Washington State Secretary of State, 2012 General Election – November 6, 2012

Strategic Planning and Programming County By County Comparison Return Per Dollar Contributed by Citizens within Each County State & Federal Transportation Funds, 2013 Analysis (similar results as for general revenues)

Welfare State: Washington’s Republican counties depend on Western Washington’s money. How can they survive the state budget cuts they demand?

Freedom Foundation tactics

The Freedom Foundation is bad news.

Freedom Foundation

It’s a libertarian think tank based in Olympia whose mission is “to advance individual liberty, free enterprise, and limited, accountable government.”

Recently, they’ve been mounting a sustained attack on unions, especially public sector unions, with attack lines like “Union bosses buying our politicians” and “union political machine.”

They also love attacking environmentalism.

They’re produced a series of videos Tales of Tyanny, with cherry-picked examples of government overreach. They ignore all the good things government does for us.

Apparently, people associated with the Freedom Foundation have been sending letters-to-the-editor to community newspapers across the state encouraging people to oppose funding for public education.    One of the communities targeted was Federal Way.  Some Federal Way residents took note of the letter and discovered that it originated in Bellevue.  As it says in  Bellevue-based opposition to Federal Way school levy is out of touch,

My query to King County revealed that you did not just file statements against Federal Way; indeed, you three Bellevue residents were very busy seeking to influence levy outcomes in local elections outside your own city and district.

To date, it appears that you have also filed nearly identical statements opposing the pending levies for school districts in Federal Way, Vashon Island, Riverview, Auburn, Tahoma, Lake Washington, North Shore and Fife. I do note that you did play one “home game,” and you are of course opposing your own levy in Bellevue.

If your opposition to our local levy is really just about furthering anti-big government, anti-tax, anti-union objectives, I’ll conclude with this point: I find it incredibly unfortunate that with your intrusion into our community and our local issues, you have become exactly what you purport to oppose – an unwanted and unneeded burden being forced upon us from outside the borders of our capable community.

According to SourceWatch.org,

Bob Williams, founder of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, was the private sector chair of the Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as of 2011.[2] He is also on the ALEC Board of Scholars as of 2011.[3] In August 2011, he received ALEC’s Private Sector Member of the Year Award.[4]

The Freedom Foundation’s funders include the Walton Family Foundation (Walmart), Richard M. Scaife, Roe Foundation (supporter of the Heritage Foundation), and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation (“Harry Bradley was one of the original charter members of the far right-wing John Birch Society, along with another Birch Society board member, Fred Koch, the father of Koch Industries‘ billionaire brothers and owners, Charles and David Koch. — source).

Here are some letters the Freedom Foundation sent out to their email list:

“Internal chaos” … “disingenuous” … “compulsion” ….
Those terms got tossed around in a Senate hearing today as two big union bosses struggled to defend their income stream.
This is step one in changing our state: putting union bosses on defense as we expose their true interests and agenda. Will you contribute right now to keep union bosses squirming?
The bill up for a hearing-Senate Bill 6053-was recommended by the Freedom Foundation. It would increase protections for workers who don’t want to pay for union politics.
In a bizarre twist of language, Jeff Johnson, president of the Washington Labor Council, claimed increasing protection for workers’ civil rights might violate federal civil rights laws. And while Johnson called it “ironic” to talk about limiting union bosses’ power on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I think it was painfully ironic to hear Johnson and his cronies oppose modest protections for workers’ rights and paychecks.
The hearing video will be online soon, along with our analysis. You can reply to this email if you want those links once they’re available.
This is just the first of five Freedom Foundation-inspired bills moving through the State Senate right now. I’ll let you know what happens as the rest come up for hearings, but I think it’s going to be good.
If you want to level the political playing field in Washington State so conservative ideas can win … this is your fight and I hope you’ll support it right now.

Another email attack on unions:

Can you help us push back against the union political machine?

This is a critical moment in the legislature, and lawmakers need to hear from all of us if we want to see the state change.

Before Monday, please make a statement to lawmakers about each of these three bills:

SB 6183 ends secret bargaining between government officials and union bosses, letting the public see how bad decisions are made about government services, accountability and costs.

SB 6300 requires public employee union bosses to report how they spend the dues and fees they collect. Private sector unions already do this.

SB 6053 prohibits public employee unions from overcharging workers who don’t want to be members.

These measures are reasonable steps toward a more balanced political system.

The easiest way to contact your lawmaker is to click each bill number above. On each bill’s page, you will see a green button that says “Comment on this bill.”

After you provide your address, and be sure to click “Verify District.” You will then be able to select “I want a response” and send your comments to your two Representatives and Senator.

If you prefer to use the phone instead, you can call 1-800-562-6000 and mention all three of the bills.

Or you could email any or all Senators here.

These bills are poised to pass the Senate, but if they don’t pass by Tuesday they will be “dead” for the year. The union political machine is working hard to to kill them. They call these modest bills “Wisconsin-style attacks” and are urging tens of thousands of union members to oppose them all.

Feel free to forward this email and use other social media to enlist others to help.

For Freedom,

Jami Lund, Senior Policy Analyst

Arguing with conservatives about fair taxes

Some conservative-leaning coworkers were saying yesterday that the problem with America is that 47% of people don’t pay taxes. Echoing Mitt Romney, my coworkers said democracy leads to a situation in which people vote for candidates who promise them public money.

I replied: I agree we have too much socialism and redistribution of wealth: socialism for the rich.  I mentioned the increasing concentration of wealth and the bailouts of banks like Goldman Sachs.  Then I walked away, not wanting to continue the discussion. Usually I avoid talking politics at work, because it can lead to trouble.

Later I couldn’t resist following up with an email.  Quoting Fact-checking Romney’s “47 percent” comment, I wrote: “According to 2008 data from the nonpartisan Tax Foundation, eight of the top 10 states with the lowest income tax liability are Republican-leaning states. The other two are Florida, a battleground state, and New Mexico, which CBS News rates as likely Obama territory.” And “The same data shows, however, that nearly two-thirds of households that paid no income tax did pay payroll taxes. And most people also pay some combination of state, local, sales, gas and property taxes.”

They said, “You are mixing two things. We’re talking about income taxes.” I said, it’s important to mix all the facts and not exclude the whole picture.

I also sent them these links:

They replied, quoting The rich do not pay the most taxes, they pay ALL the taxes. “Buried inside a Congressional Budget Office report this week was this nugget: when it comes to individual income taxes, the top 40 percent of wage earners in America pay 106 percent of the taxes. The bottom 40 percent…pay negative 9 percent.”

Christopher Follmer pointed me to the article No, The Rich Do Not Pay ‘All The Taxes’ which says:

But “taxes” are not the same thing as “federal personal income taxes.” The federal personal income tax only made up 28% of all U.S. government tax collections in 2012. Federal, state and local governments collected $4 trillion in taxes last year; just $1.1 trillion of that was federal personal income tax. . .. Here’s a chart I made earlier this year showing the distribution of the tax burden when you add all the taxes together. Earners in the top 1% pay about 43% of their incomes in tax. People in the middle quintile pay 25%. The poorest fifth pays 13%.

Importantly, the article also points out, “that top 40% group includes single people with incomes as low as $51,100 and couples with incomes of $72,300. Those people aren’t poor but it’s a real stretch to say they’re rich.”

Bernie Sanders and Warren Buffet have spoken on this: the obscenity that hedge fund managers pay a lower percent of their income in taxes than do many middle class people, due to low capital gains taxes. As Chad Lupkes said, “People making obscene amounts of money can get away with paying 15% or lower, giving them billions of dollars that they DO NOTHING WITH while their fellow citizens are starving on the streets.”

Anyway, it seems that conservatives have their facts and liberals have their facts.  They say that facts rarely sway peoples’ opinions anyway.

Who stifles children?

In a brave act of trolling, Glen Morgan, the property rights director of the Freedom Foundation, posted a link to the webpage Stifle the little children onto the facebook page of the Washington State progressive caucus.

The webpage lists a dozen examples of government intrusion and misdeeds, via videos with interviews, background music, and other professional production values.

Like most right wing arguments, these are based on edge cases and on unrepresentative sampling.

Regressives (aka conservatives) cut food stamps and Head Start for poor children; awarded billions in subsidies, bailouts and tax breaks to gazillionaires; launched disastrous wars that killed hundreds of thousands of people and wasted trillions of dollars; and crashed the economy through reckless deregulation. Then they have the nerve to accuse progressives of stifling children!

I reject the idea that individuals and companies can prosper and be productive without the protections and framework of government. Aside from the need for regulations, government is needed to provide a framework of basic laws and services that can’t (apparently) be provided by individuals. It’s there to defend the common good. Government is like the operating system of a computer. And without government, we’d be hunter-gatherers.  Business needs government to produce goods and make money.  See:

Government is like a Computer Operating System

Anarchism, Libertarianism and the way forward

Countering anti-govt propaganda

A Broken Record: the case of the Freedom Foundation

Without Government We’d Still be Hunter-Gatherers

I propose we progressives make a webpage of our own with videos that illustrate the numerous ways in which government helps people and stops bad things from happening.

We built these

People who dislike government should move to Somalia.

Reps Reichert, Hastings, and Rodgers voted to cut food stamps

All but 15 Republicans voted to cut foodstamps.  See http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2013/roll476.xml

All Democrats in the House voted against the bill.

In Washington State, Republican reps Reichert, Hastings, and Rodgers voted to cut food stamps; Herrera Beutler did not vote.

http://my.firedoglake.com/cranestation/2013/09/22/food-sunday-house-republicans-and-the-food-stamps-vote/

Republicans "get" transportation. They need to "get" other things too.

At the meeting of the 41st LD Democrats last night, Rep. Judy Clibborn, state house transportation leader, discussed the gas tax, tolling I-90, and auto tab fees.  She said that the gas tax will be raised maybe $0.10, and eventually I-90 and other roads will have some sort of tolling.

I asked: but will Republicans in the state senate support a tax hike and tolling?  Yes, she explained, the Republicans “get” transportation because many of their districts are in eastern Washington and the farmers need roads to transport their goods.  Similarly, business interests realize that without intelligent management of congestion around Seattle, freight won’t move.

Though Republicans get transportation, they don’t yet get the need for public transportation and may oppose car tab fees and other ways to pay for transit. They like cars but not so much trains and buses. The state constitution specifies that gas taxes can only be used for roads and auto ferries, not for public transit.

Similarly, Republicans don’t seem to get the need for public education and public health care.  Without educated citizenry, companies will not be able to compete.  At best, Wall Street firms will prosper as jobs and profits are offshored, and foreign workers take over high tech jobs here.    Our competing nations overseas have well-funded public schools.  (More on this in a separate article soon.)

Likewise, if people have no medical care and if mentally ill people are wandering the streets, with easy access to guns, life will suck for many of us. Republicans don’t get the need for gun control.

Republican policies promoting low taxation, deregulation and few government services lead to uneducated workers, crowded roads, dirty air, sick citizens and  increasing concentration of wealth.  The public needs to realize that low taxes and our regressive tax system are not in the interest of the vast majority of citizens.  I sure wish our political leaders (Gov. Gregoire, Gov. Inslee, and other lawmakers) would take a lead in educating the public about this.

Clibborn also discussed efforts to stop the competition between the Port of Seattle and the Port of Tacoma. (Sounds a bit like price fixing, but it makes sense.)

Before I-90 can be tolled the state will need to get federal approval, since I-90 is an interstate.  Such approval is probably forthcoming.

 

The party of dumb

The LA Times is reporting that, despite the overwhelming majority of the public who support tightening gun laws, the failure of Congress to pass gun control in the wake of Sandy Hook may, paradoxically help Republicans in future elections, because gun right supporters are more passionate about the issue.

“Those who said they felt “very happy” over the Senate action significantly outnumbered those who called themselves “angry” – 20% to 15%. Among those who had a negative reaction to the Senate action, most called themselves not “angry,” but “disappointed” (32%).”   Outrage over gun vote? Maybe not, poll indicates

What caught my eye was the following sentence, in bold:

People with postgraduate degrees, who have become a mainstay of the Democratic coalition, were among the most likely to say they felt “angry” about the Senate’s decision, with 31% giving that answer, according to an analysis by the Washington Post. Other demographic groups that were more likely than average to call themselves “angry” were residents of the Northeast (26%), self-identified Democrats (26%) and women (19%). That could indicate that the gun debate will create more headwinds for Republicans in the Northeast, a region where they have steadily lost ground in recent elections, and with highly educated voters.

Often it’s the less educated people who are more religious, more hostile to foreigners and gays, more jingoistic, and more likely to vote Republican.

Of course, this is old news: liberals are portrayed as elitist snobs who can’t relate to average folk.