Doug and Mary Blair wait for appointment at the Breathitt County Family Health Center on Jan. 21, 2014 in Jackson, Ky. Mary Blair was able to receive medical coverage through Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.
Luke Sharrett for The Washington Post/Getty

Red states are most dependent on government money, study shows

The political narrative of red states vs. blue states and makers vs. takers may need an update, according to a report released Thursday finding states that vote Republican are more likely to rely more heavily on federal government investments.

The WalletHub analysis of government data found red states rank higher on average in terms of dependency on federal government money than blue states. Mississippi, New Mexico, Alabama, Louisiana, and Maine top the list of dependent states while Delaware, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Connecticut rank at the bottom. 


The rankings relied on data, such as return on taxes paid to the government – or how many dollars each state gets back for what it pays in federal taxes, federal funding as a percentage of state revenue, and number of federal employees per capita. While South Carolina didn’t make the top five in terms of overall dependency, the Palmetto state has the highest return on taxpayer investment, with citizens raking in nearly $8 from the federal government for every $1 they pay into the pot. 

The report found the least wealthy states were more likely to receive more federal support, and also found acorrelation between a state’s federal dependency and tax rates.

“What if, for example, a particular state can afford not to tax its residents at high rates because it’s receiving disproportionately more funding from the federal government than states with apparently oppressive tax codes?” report author John Kiernan wrote in his analysis. “That would change the narrative significantly, revealing federal dependence where bold, efficient stewardship was once thought to preside.”

“The idea of the American freeloader burst into the public consciousness when #47percent started trending on Twitter,” he added. “And while the notion is senselessly insulting to millions of hardworking Americans, it is true that some states receive a far higher return on their federal income tax investment than others.”

The analysis becomes the latest nail in the coffin on Mitt Romey’s repeatedly-debunked suggestion during the 2012 election that those most dependent on the government were more likely to be President Obama’s supporters.

More recently, Romney’s former running-mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, has become a leading voice in his party discussing issues of poverty. He came under fire earlier this month after arguing poverty in inner cities was created in part by a “culture problem” and lack of work ethic in “generations of men.” Ryan later said those comments were “inarticulate” and said he intended to accept an invitation from members of the Congressional Black Caucus to discuss and explore the issue further.