In my last post I objected to the claims made by liberals that Mississippi is a giant welfare case, unable to survive without massive federal aid.
Among the claims made by the Thad Cochran tax-and-spend crowd is that Mississippi gets three dollars from the federal government for every one dollar paid by Mississippians in federal taxes, and that therefore we mustn't cut spending. This three dollar figure overstates the case; indeed for 2012 Mississippi or Mississippians did receive about three dollars in federal money for every dollar paid. But the average over several years is about two dollars.
Liberal Republicans are trying to convince people that any effort to rein in out-of-control federal spending will cut of the flow of these funds. Well, it's simply not the case.
My last post addressed this issue in general terms. Let's look now at the specific federal spending based on a 2010 report from the U.S. Census.
In 2010 the federal government sent approximately $31.5 billion to Mississippi. The chart above, from the Bigger Pie Forum, shows how that money was spent.
In 2010 Mississippians received $9.8 billion in various retirement and disability payments. As a state we have two to three times the average number of military pensioners, and many people work in other states and then return to low-cost Mississippi to retire. These pensions are a matter of right, not a gift to Mississippi by magnanimous blue states.
Next up, at $9.7 billion, is "Other Direct Payments," which include Medicare benefits; excess earned income tax credits; unemployment compensation; Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; housing assistance; agricultural assistance; federal employees life and health insurance; student financial assistance. None of these programs are targeted to Mississippi. People get this money if they are entitled to it, regardless of what state they live in.
So $20 billion of the $31.5 billion is pensions and welfare. People are going to get this money wherever they live.
In 2010 $2.6 billion was spent on "procurement." In other words, the federal government bought things. This isn't a handout; it's a value for value exchange. Three billion was spent on various federal salaries.
And then there were $8 billion in grants, everything from the Small Business Administration to the Department of Education. The Census lists 32 different agencies or categories of spending. If any cuts are to be made it will come from "grants." But such cuts will affect every state, not just Mississippi.
When Republicans start championing runaway government spending on the grounds that our state is getting more than our share, our nation is in trouble. I suppose those who think like this would find it a terrible thing if every person on welfare or unemployment in Mississippi were to suddenly get a job. After all, that would mean fewer federal dollars flowing in.
The fact is that most of what we as Mississippians receive from the federal government is ours as a matter of right. Cutting back on waste isn't going to affect the pensions and benefits received by our citizens. It will make us a stronger state and a stronger nation.