This morning, USA Today is reporting:
Billions of dollars in federal aid delivered directly to the local level to help revive the economy have gone overwhelmingly to places that supported President Obama in last year’s presidential election.
That aid — about $17 billion — is the first piece of the administration’s massive stimulus package that can be tracked locally. Much of it has followed a well-worn path to places that regularly collect a bigger share of federal grants and contracts, guided by formulas that have been in place for decades and leave little room for manipulation.
Conservatives will surely be quick to point out that this smells a lot like political payoffs, but I disagree. The places that are always begging for — and receiving — the most Federal money are generally large cities with large minority populations. These cities (Washington DC, Philadelphia, Detroit, Los Angeles, Chicago, New Orleans, etc.) have been controlled by Democrats for decades, and in many instances (e.g. Detroit) their minority community has ascended to power within the local Democratic party structure, and reliably delivers >90% of minority votes to Democrats on a regular basis.
It is no surprise, then, that these cities have received a huge chunk of Federal aid dollars. They have gotten the lion’s share of this money for decades.
But the big cities are still not happy. The New York Times is also reporting that big cities are upset over the fact that Stimulus money for transportation projects has been awarded largely to rural counties for improvements on inter-city and inter-state highways. According to the Times report, major cities house 2/3 of our nation’s population and contribute 3/4 of its economic activity, and those cities expect a similar share of Federal transportation aid to help combat problems like traffic jams and chronically underfunded public transportation systems.
This story serves as yet another example of the growing chasm between the politics of large urban areas and the rest of America. While counties (and sometimes states) without enormous urban areas have generally been able to plan and pay for their own infrastructure and welfare improvement programs with only a modicum of Federal assistance, city and state governments long under the control of liberal Democrats have grown progressively more dependent on massive Federal aid. The differences between Texas (no state income tax and a fiscally conservative approach to government) and California should put any disputes over this subject permanently to rest.
It is ironic, yet entirely truthful, that the Democrats have morphed from the party that once championed the common working man into the party that now champions massive and politically-powerful city, state governments and Federal agencies over their less urbane counterparts in so-called “Middle America.” Democrats also enthusiastically support Big Labor and Big Business over small businesses and the self-employed, thanks to the billions of dollars in lobbying money and political contributions that they have gathered over the years. Name any major Democrat legislation (stimulus, TARP, SCHIP, Fair Pay, Cap and Trade, health care reform, etc.) and I’ll show you a bill that disproportionately benefits Big Labor, Big Business, and Big Government.
If it’s “Big,” then you can bet it has “Democrat” written all over it.
And speaking of “big,” this piece from TigerHawk is essential reading (h/t Instapundit):
The Obama administration aspires to restructure large parts of the United States economy. Because its efforts have been broken into separate initiatives with different justifications, few people other than news junkies have noticed how extraordinary Barack Obama’s agenda is. Perhaps a number will help: 35%. That is the aggregate percentage of United States GDP produced by the three industries that the Democrats hope to restructure from the top down: Health care (17% of GDP), energy (9.8% of GDP), and financial services (8% of GDP). Think about that. Without even considering the transformational impact of proposed anti-business laws of general application, such as the Orwellian “employee free choice act,” the Obama administration wants to redesign 35% of gross domestic product from the center. And he proposes to do it all in a rush this summer, lest the decline in his popularity and that of the Congressional Democrats erodes his power to do so.
Even FDR wasn’t that reckless with his party’s power during his first year in office. And liberals complained that George W. Bush had an “Imperial Presidency”?