Surprise! Obama’s Playing Politics With State Funding
States where President Obama is unpopular have been hit hardest by recent federal budget cuts, an analysis of federal spending shows.
Differences in population, economy, or a state’s ability to win federal money cannot fully explain the disparity in federal funding between red states, such as Texas, and swing or blue states, such as California, according to the Reuters analysis.
Between fiscal years 2009 and 2013, federal funding to Republican leaning states fell by an average of 40 percent, compared to an average drop of 25 percent for swing states and Democratic-leaning states. The sharp disparity is evident only in cases directly controlled by the Obama administration, when his appointees and their employees award competitive “project grants” to states as they deem appropriate.
“I would suggest these numbers would tell us there is politicization going on,” notes John Hudak in the report, a federal spending expert at the Brookings Institution who worked with Reuters on the analysis.
Funding a project in a state that where a president is fighting for votes could make a difference in an election, as opposed to a state that’s already red or blue.
In the fiscal year that ended in 2012, Obama’s administration awarded 10,232 grants to Ohio, a key swing state, which was a 21 percent increase from 2009. At the same time the number of grants awarded to Texas dropped by 37 percent.
Obama used some of those grants in stump speeches, such as an $18 million grant to Ohio for a manufacturing research center, or an $8.2 million grant to Florida for a tech incubator, reported Reuters.
Hudak found similar trends under former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, when purple states got about 5.7 percent more grant dollars than either blue or red states. But Reuters notes the Obama administration has more control over discretionary spending, since Congress passed an earmark ban in 2011.
Members of Congress can tell the president how much money can be doled out in the form of grants, but they can no longer dictate exactly where that money goes.
In red states, defined as states where Obama won less than 45 percent of the vote in 2012, discretionary federal funding fell by 40 percent, to $15 billion, between fiscal years 2009 and 2013. In purple states, funding fell by 27 percent. And in blue states, where Obama won more than 55 percent of the vote, it fell by a comparatively small percentage of 22.5 percent, the analysis found.
The Obama administration didn’t explain why red states have seen the sharpest funding cuts in recent years, but the White House Office of Management and Budget told Reuters funds are allocated in a way that protects taxpayer dollars and holds lawmakers accountable to the American people.
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