RI Rides on the Stimulus Gravy Train

So, the ProJo editors decided to attack “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” for “fiscal hyper-hypocrisy“. Following the NY Times lead, the ProJo cites data from ProPublica showing that “oil-rich Alaska leads in per-capita federal stimulus money — $3,145.” They go on to list the 8 next highest spending/capita states–Montana, Vermont, North Dakota, New Mexico, Wyoming, Idaho, Massachusetts and Washington–and gleefully note that “these are states where ‘fiscally conservative’ rhetoric attacking the Feds is rife.” Well, that’s one way of looking at the data.
For starters, here are the overall Top 10 federal stimulus receivers:

By Total $  
California $45,808,855,406
New York $26,945,643,731
Texas $24,089,598,247
Florida $17,013,438,470
Illinois $14,697,347,883
Pennsylvania $13,770,009,441
Michigan $13,434,355,667
Ohio $13,214,323,963
Massachusetts $11,036,621,042
North Carolina $10,189,817,785

No surprise, big states, right?
But the ProJo is trying to be clever and bolster their charge of hypocrisy by focusing on a per capita calculation.

Per Capita  
District of Columbia $7,110
Alaska $3,304
Vermont $2,077
South Dakota $1,952
Montana $1,831
North Dakota $1,710
Massachusetts $1,674
Maine $1,651
New Mexico $1,628
Idaho $1,598
Rhode Island $1,597

This is the same data from ProPublica cited by the ProJo. I wonder why they left out stimulus money that went to Washington, D.C. in its per capita list? Well, I didn’t and I added Rhode Island–which came in 11th–to my list, though the ProJo failed to mention that, too. I guess it didn’t really help make their argument or they were so focused on skewering hypocrites they missed what’s going on in the community they supposedly serve.
Well, I said to myself, since they get to play with numbers, I want to do the same. A lot of the stimulus money went to infrastructure–roads, bridges and the like–and into the entities that support it. States with big land areas have more of all of that. So I wondered what the spending breakdown per square mile would look like.

Per Sq. Mile  
District of Columbia $62,388,936.64
New Jersey $1,105,527.98
Rhode Island $1,088,923.68
Massachusetts $1,045,672.26
Connecticut $769,340.15
Maryland $564,170.16
Delaware $557,419.10
New York $493,907.98
Pennsylvania $298,988.98
Ohio $294,798.74

Well, how about that? Pretty much the direct opposite conclusion can be drawn if the data is “shaped” that way. Small, though densely populated, northeastern states comprise half of this top ten. And lookee there, li’l ol’ RI is #3…and Alaska (not shown here) is dead last, followed by Wyoming, Montana, the Dakotas and other big states.
All that being said, I guess, given the ProJo editors premise, Rhode Islanders aren’t hypocritical because we get a lot of stimulus–whether per capita or per square mile–and we continue to vote for those who brought it in. And can you imagine what our economy would be like without it? I wonder why the ProJo editors didn’t point that out…

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13 years ago

This must have been printed on wacky Wednesday when Froma the Groma takes over the editorial pages of the still declining ProJo. Now under 95K issues per day.

13 years ago

Another thing. Where does the ProJo stand on the whole issue of stimulus spending? ‘Cause none of this would be a problem; a ProJo editor wouldn’t be wringing his or her hands right now over some perceived hypocrisy if the federal government hadn’t cranked up its printing press to churn out and distribute trillions of dollars to no visible effect.

13 years ago

Once a week if you’re keeping score at home.

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