Just a few weeks ago, my congresswoman, Republican U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson, argued that impeaching Donald Trump for inciting an insurrection would further divide the country. We need to come together, she said.
Now, Hinson is telling anyone who will listen that the next COVID-19 relief package should not include what she and other Republicans call a “blue state bailout.” Aid to state and local governments, they contend, should not go to states and cities “mismanaged” by Democrats.
Nothing brings us together quite like declaring that many of the nation’s most populous states and cities are run by freeloaders. Consequently, their constituents should suffer through job losses and curtailed state and municipal services. That will teach them to vote blue.
We can debate how much state and local aid should be contained in the relief bill and how Congress should determine who needs it most. The bill currently contains $350 billion for state and local governments. Hinson says help should go only to those who need it.
But cynically labeling these payments “blue state bailouts” sucks all the seriousness out of the debate. Hinson is simply pulling a page out of Trump’s spiteful playbook.
Trump spent his entire presidency degrading states and cities run by Democrats. He attacked their immigration policies, environmental rules and how they handled racial justice protests. He derided urban areas as lawless, dangerous and dirty in frequent attacks clearly steeped in racism.
Last September, Trump suggested the coronavirus pandemic wasn’t so bad if you just subtracted all the deaths that occurred in blue states. A big part of Trump’s big lie about the election were his claims that voter fraud occurred in cities such as Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Detroit. The big lie led to the big insurrection, but let’s not talk about that. It’s divisive.
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The only real Americans live in red states. A congresswoman from the cul-de-sacs of Marion surely knows that. We can see the rural heartland from our decks.
But what would we do without blue states, especially the ones that pay more in taxes than they get back in federal benefits? According to the Rockefeller Institute of Government, the top four states that pay more than they get are New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Connecticut. It is red states that generally get more than they pay in.
Blue state taxes probably helped pay for the billions of dollars of federal agricultural bailout payments spawned by Trump’s reckless trade wars. Iowa farmers received nearly $1 billion as of last summer. And they didn’t have to prove they needed help to qualify.
Iowa has called on the nation for help many times in recent years. We’ve had epic floods and a derecho. We pleaded for attention and assistance. We didn’t check whether it came from blue or red states, so long as help came.
What if blue states decide they’re tired of helping with natural disasters in red states where reckless political leaders don’t believe in climate change? They’re tired of paying for all these red state washouts while GOP politicians mismanage risks by ignoring science.
That would be ridiculous, of course. Playing politics while our fellow Americans face an emergency is nothing short of reckless. We need to come together, or so I’ve heard.
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