You may be walking around thinking that you are just a small person with no say regarding what your government should be doing. You vote every chance you get, but it seems like the government grows more distant and less responsive. You feel this anguish of hopelessness that the government you grew up with is slipping away. All those feelings are justified because the monolith of Washington, DC, is swallowing up all levels of government -- thereby further distancing you from having any say over your life.
Certainly, it was not always this way. David Brinkley, one of our greatest and most historic newscasters, in 1996 wrote a terrific book that clarified for us the genesis of Washington, DC, being the center of the universe. In Washington Goes to War, Brinkley tells of how a sleepy little town became the central focus of the most powerful country in the world. By the time anyone read the book in the late 1990’s, we were already accepting the omnipotence of D.C. However, since then, the control over our lives has become even more pervasive.
The Tax Foundation (Taxfoundation.org) performed an analysis of how deeply D.C. has its claws in our everyday life. What they showed on a map (found on their website) is the percentage of each state’s budget that comes from Washington funding. The range of state budgets beholden to the federal government are Alaska, at the low-end coming in at 24%, to Mississippi which has 49% of its budget funded by the federal government.
In analyzing the study, it is impossible to point the finger at conservative vs. liberal states as to how they exist on federal funds. The reason is that high tax states may have a lower percent of their revenue coming from federal funds because of the huge revenue they collect. A perfect example is California has only 32.4% and Illinois has 33.7% of their funding coming from Washington, while Florida has 36.9% and Texas has 40% of their state budget being paid from federal funds. That being said even those who argue for state’s rights still feed at the federal trough.
Governors and state legislatures would argue that it makes sense that so much money comes from the federal government because of the immense amount of mandates they have to confront coming from Washington. They would even argue that there are many more unfunded mandates that are forced upon them by the feds. If that is true, it just more clearly defines how much say people in D.C. have over each state’s spending priorities.