Just over a week ago, the New York Times ran an eye-opening story about a key paradox in U.S. politics: It turns out the biggest critics of federal spending — Republican base voters — are some of the biggest beneficiaries of the social safety net.
Expand on that irony, and you’ll find that some of the most conservative states in the country are the greatest beneficiaries of transfer payments — where residents pay on average less in taxes than they receive in federal benefits. Not all “taker” states are red, and not all “giver” states are blue.
But the color spread on the map below suggests that many Republican base voters either choose to vote against their economic self-interest, or would be stunned if the members of Congress who represent them ever got their way.
Another point of national cognitive dissonance: for all the hype and anger about soaring deficits, all the green and dark green on the map illustrate how severe the implications of balancing the budget too rapidly would be.