George Will bashed "Blue" America, ignored the factsMay 10, 2004 1:30 PM EDT ››› SHANT MESROBIAN
In a May 9 Washington Post column about political analyst Michael Barone's new book, Hard America, Soft America: Competition vs. Coddling and the Battle for the Nation's Future, columnist George F. Will argued that Democratic-leaning "blue" states are less accountable, competent, and productive than Republican-leaning "red" states:
... Barone says, "Hard America plays for keeps: The private sector fires people when profits fall and the military trains under live fire." Soft America depends on the productivity, creativity and competence of Hard America, which protects the country and pays its bills. ...
[T]he second half of the 1960s brought the Great Softening -- in schools and welfare policies, in an emphasis on redistribution rather than production of wealth and in the criminal justice system. ...
Barone believes that promotion of competition and accountability -- hardness -- is the shared theme of President Bush's policies of educational standards, individual health accounts, Social Security investment accounts and lower tax rates to increase self-reliance in the marketplace. Barone's book is a guide to electoral map reading: The blue and red states have, respectively, softer and harder sensibilities.
Will's assumption ignored recent data showing that it is actually blue states (states that former Vice President Al Gore won in 2000) that subsidize red states (states that President George W. Bush won in 2000). An August 2003 report by the Tax Foundation -- a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that monitors fiscal policy at the federal, state, and local levels -- compared the federal tax burden in each state with the flow of federal funds back to that state for fiscal year 2002. As former Gore speechwriter Daniel H. Pink pointed out in a January 2004 New York Times op-ed citing the Tax Foundation report, out of the 33 states that received more in federal spending than they contributed in federal taxes (what Pink calls "taker" states), Bush won 25. Out of the 16 states that paid more in federal taxes than they received in federal spending (what Pink calls "giver" states), Gore carried 12.