The 490 counties that President-elect Joe Biden won account for 70% of the U.S. economy, according to the Brookings Institute. This year, the 100 counties with the largest economic output – which overwhelmingly vote Democratic – together comprise over half the total U.S. economy, according to Commerce Department data and various research organizations, including Brookings. The 2,535 counties that almost reelected President Trump in November account for a little less than 30% of the U.S. economy.
The economies in Trump voting areas have eroded since 2016, however, when the 2,584 counties he won produced 36% of the nation’s economic output. The loss of economic power in Republican voting counties has been even more dramatic since the 2000 election when George W. Bush won 2,417 counties that produced 45% of the U.S. economy.
Ironically, Republicans promote the type of policies – like tax cuts for the rich and fewer regulations on corporations – that benefit the wealthier, higher educated urbanites who vote for Democrats. These are the people who own stocks and who have gotten richer while the GOP base has gotten poorer. In fact, when ranked by wealth, the top 10% of the richest Americans owned 87% of all stock outstanding in the first quarter of this year, according to Federal Reserve data.
For the past several decades, the GOP has moved further to the right, always promoting Federalism, which dictates that more federal programs should be taken over by the states. Here is the problem with that – as some of the above statistics indicate: Not all states are equal. Just compare Mississippi’s economy to California’s.
I have frequently written about the 10 states that are most dependent on federal government money. These are states that receive more federal dollars than their citizens and companies pay in federal taxes. Typically, nine of these states are controlled by Republicans. The federal government actually uses excess blue state taxes to provide benefits to red states, mainly for health care and education. Many red states simply don’t have the economic (tax) base that would allow them to fund the programs the GOP would delegate to them and that’s even more apparent in this year of the pandemic.
Now the 2020 election is almost behind us, although a Biden win won’t be official until state electors meet to cast their votes on December 14 and a joint session of Congress finalizes that result on January 6. In the meantime, the president-elect is selecting individuals for key positions in his administration.
The challenges facing the new president, however, are enormous. The coronavirus pandemic is raging out of control and hospitals are almost full, particularly in red states that were mostly spared during the first wave in the spring. More states, including red ones, are imposing or reimposing restrictions that will almost certainly impair the already feeble economic recovery. Millions of Americans will soon lose the economic benefits and protections from evictions they received under the pandemic relief Cares Act that was signed into law in March.
Federal Reserve Chairman Powell has urged Congress to pass another significant fiscal rescue package in order to avoid continuing business failures, job losses, bankruptcies and long-term damage to the economy. Most economists agree.
It’s possible that some agreement on this legislation could be reached before year end. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who is now involved in the negotiations, is stuck on a limited $500 billion package, while Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has already passed a comprehensive $2+ trillion bill in the House. It appears, however, that Senate Republicans have suddenly become deficit hawks again. Trump doesn’t appear to care what is passed; he’s too busy attempting an unprecedented election reversal that would keep him in power.
Unless the two Democrats win the runoff elections in Georgia on January 5, 2021, which I believe is unlikely, McConnell will still control the Senate, at least during the first two years of Biden’s presidency. He knows the leverage is on his side in current virus relief negotiations and he is in no hurry to help Biden shore up the economy going into 2021.
So, in the face of horrific problems this nation is facing both domestically and internationally I believe Republicans will be playing politics instead legislating for the benefit of their constituents and the health, welfare and security of this nation. Democrats are even fearing that McConnell will block Biden’s appointments to the federal judiciary if he retains the Senate leadership and I don’t believe their anxiety is unfounded.
Senate Republicans are already expressing opposition to some of Biden’s selections for positions in his administration. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who is eying another run for the presidency in 2024, has spent the past four years in silence or excusing Trump as he took a wrecking ball to America’s world leadership role and questioned election integrity here at home. He tweeted, “Biden’s cabinet picks went to Ivy League schools, have strong resumes, attend all the right conferences & will be polite & orderly caretakers of America’s decline.”
Well, because of Trump’s inept response to the coronavirus pandemic, his distain for allies like France and Germany, his politicizing of America’s democratic institutions like the Justice Department and his preference for autocracies like those in Russia and Turkey, it’s clear this nation is already in decline.
Sadly, Republicans are signaling they want to keep it that way until the next presidential election.