Governor Greg Abbott of Texas may have just earned the status of troll level: Jedi. While the media and Democrats wait breathlessly for the COVID-19 emergencies to plague red states that dare to move to reopen their economies, the data is simply not bearing them out.
Abbot Makes the Case
Meanwhile, the same blue state Governors are begging for a federal bailout to save them from the economic impacts of their shutdowns. Governor Greg Abbott decided to call them out in a single graphic:
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) May 18, 2020
Succinct, factual and devastating. Especially when you have high-profile personalities like Joe Rogan and Elon Musk saying publicly they are ready to flee California for redder pastures. And when New York has already seen the nation’s biggest net negative migration. In fact, Governor Cuomo got really, really mad at Florida for stealing his wealthy citizens. Even President Trump changed his primary residence to Florida.
Abbott Sets the Stage for 2020
This is why President Trump and GOP candidates from low tax states need to make hay with the latest proposal from Speaker Nancy Pelosi. At $3 trillion, it will not just bankrupt our children and grandchildren. It explicitly asks red state residents to bail out mismanaged blue states. It also repeals the SALT deduction cap for federal taxes, giving a boost to blue states with high tax rates.
Governor Abbott was more than fair in the graphic above. He used the state deficits before the COVID-19 pandemic. Every single state in the country is going to have economic impacts from the pandemic. Each is going to have to figure out how to navigate that and make a compact with their residents to overcome the hit.
The financial repercussions felt by New York and California are no more important than the hits taken by Florida or Texas. Florida relies heavily on tourism and the Texas economy is tied inextricably to oil and gas. Both of these sectors have taken huge losses during the last several months. Stop and think about the economy of Orlando without Disney World. Or the economy of Dallas and Houston with oil at $12 a barrel.
Abbott and Governor DeSantis of Florida are going to have to navigate their individual challenges. They are facing them head on by beginning to open their economies in a measured way. Both governors have been capable through the entire pandemic of viewing their states in a regional way. Jacksonville is not Miami any more than Dallas is Lubbock. The state policies in Florida and Texas have reflected this fact, though both governors have been willing to step in when local policy seems to be needlessly restrictive.
By contrast, Governor Newsom of California and Governor Cuomo in New York have taken a peanut butter approach to their states, leveling the same restrictions statewide. They essentially ignored the wide swaths of their states that are not urban centers that don’t have high population densities. The central valley in California and Albany to Lake Placid did not need to be treated the same as Los Angeles and New York City. Yet many polices that may make sense in large cities are still being applied to these areas.
Now California and New York are seeking relief that goes beyond the impact COVID-19 has had on their economy. They are seeking funds that would help them relieve debt accumulated through years of fiscal mismanagement. Both men would do well to Google the term ‘austerity’ and take a critical eye to their budgets. Both have line-item veto authority and need to figure out how to use it.
Maybe Newsom would like to repeal the $125 million he allotted for making pandemic relief payments to illegal immigrants. Or the coverage for illegal immigrants up to age 19 in the Medi-Cal program. Likewise, the New York state budget is notoriously full of pork and grants for favored pet projects. Time to get back to basics, boys.
Who Is Subsidizing Who?
Meanwhile, repeal of the SALT cap increases the amount paid by individuals in red states who make the same salary as their blue state counterparts. The deduction should be eliminated altogether. No individual should be subsidizing another’s federal tax obligation by paying more on equal income.
The progressive left likes to shoot back that red states get more from the federal governments than blue states. This is an outright falsehood. Federal dollars make up a bigger percentage of red state budgets because they generally have smaller budgets. Based on population, blue states actually receive more per resident than red states.
In addition to foreign policy related to China, economic arguments are going to be key to the 2020 election. A recent swing state poll already shows that voters trust Donald Trump on the economy by more than the margin of error against Biden. Let’s swing them back to red by highlighting that Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats want to punish them for being fiscally responsible by bailing out their blue state neighbors. And let’s take back the districts that swung from red to blue in Texas, Florida and others by making the same pitch.