Who Are the Welfare Queens? Part Deux
Welfare State shows a lurid map of Washington with the Seattle region contributing more money to the state than it gets back, and rural Washington getting more. Says the author:
The article lists the top five counties in terms of per capita welfare payments as Yakima, Okanogan, Grays Harbor, Columbia and Adams. All get about twice what King County (Seattle) does. Yakima County is described as “the biggest per capita drain on the State teat.” Lousy, selfish Republicans.
Indeed, if Washington is a welfare state, it is residents in these mostly rural, mostly Eastern, mostly Republican counties who are the biggest beneficiaries, while taxpayers here in the blue parts of the state are left footing the bill. And while your typical liberal Seattleite might be neither surprised nor disturbed at this revelation, the degree of the gap between who benefits from state government and who pays for it may come as a bit of a shock.
Well, guess what most of those counties also have: Indian Reservations. Turns out that “drain on the State teat” is actually the Yakima Indian Reservation. Okanogan is about half occupied by the Colville Indian Reservation. Grays Harbor has the Quinault Reservation, Adams County and Columbia County don’t have any large reservations, but Adams has 16,000 residents and Columbia only 4000 people.
But the author tops himself with this one:
Compare that to the generous $3.16 return on each dollar enjoyed by taxpayers in hard Republican Ferry County in deep northeastern Washington.Ferry County has 7000 residents. Half of it is the eastern end of the Colville Indian Reservation, and almost all the rest is National Forest. It has a poverty rate of 19%, which pretty much agrees with the Indian population. Ferry County went for McCain in 2008 by 55 to 42 per cent, a solid win but not what I’d call “hard Republican.”
Welfare payments to poor Indian Reservations are totally justified. But portraying them as handouts to smug, selfish Republicans is just plain lying.
Afterthought After thinking about this case, as well as the widespread meme that Republican localities generally get more from the Government than they pay in taxes, I began to wonder why this has become such a talking point. The small rural counties in Washington barely add up to a city. They certainly don’t get a huge amount of money overall, and their electoral clout is miniscule. Same for the Red States that are supposedly siphoning off so much Federal money. Yes, the smallest states could elect a President with something like a quarter of the popular vote, but that requires a hugely improbable conservative landslide in small states together with a liberal landslide in big states. And even if it happens, they can’t take the House that way. I suspect it’s because of resentment that rural areas combine their electoral power with the real Republican base, urban and suburban Republicans.
Something else smells decidedly fishy about the article. Thurston County supposedly gets only $1.15 back for every dollar in taxes it pays. Thurston County is the location of Olympia, the State capital. With the payroll of state employees, it only comes to $1.15?