Actually, People DO Prefer Mississippi To New York, Congressman Rangel
November 13th, 2006
New Yorkers hope they will gain substantially from the Democratic sweep in Congress – the subject of essays by a range of New Yorkers in this week’s Gotham Gazette. (See After The Election — What Will Be Different Now)
How the rest of the country may react to any ascendancy of New York can be glimpsed by the hubbub following a comment by Congressman Charles Rangel in an article in the New York Times last Thursday entitled After Years On The Outs, New York Comes Back In.
Rangel, who will assume the chairmanship of the powerful tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, was complaining about the uneven flow of dollars from the federal government, and chose to put it this way: “Mississippi gets more than their fair share back in federal money, but who the hell wants to live in Mississippi?”
Reaction was swift and widespread:
“Please Come Visit Our State, Mr. Rangel” wrote the Delta Democrat-Times of Greenville, Mississippi.
“The other question Rangel might have asked is why people from Mississippi aren’t flooding into his politically corrupt, crime-ridden city,” James W. Bailey wrote in The Clarion-Ledger, a Mississippi newspaper (though Bailey himself apparently lives in Reston, Virginia).
Mississippi Republican Congressman Chip Pickering demanded an apology:” I hope his remarks are not the kind of insults, slander, and defamation that Mississippians will come to expect from the Democrat leadership in Washington, D.C.” Pickering added: “I have friends and colleagues from New York that are fine people, and I’ve visited their state and think it is a wonderful place. But I love Mississippi. I would rather live in Mississippi, raise my family in Mississippi and serve Mississippi — and there are millions of Mississippians who agree with me.”
And they are not alone. An editorial today in the New York Sun compares the two states: From 2000 to 2005, Mississippi experienced a population growth of 2.7 percent, compared to 1.5 percent for New York. “A larger absolute number of people may opt to live here, but Mississippi is growing faster. No doubt that has at least something to do with the business climate” — a business group ranked Mississippi as the seventh best state to do business, while New York was put at 45th, apparently based mostly on various taxes.
And Steve Malanga in City Journal finds fault not only with Rangel’s “uniquely obnoxious way” of expressing himself but with the context of his remarks. Malanga argues that the predictions will prove false about New York legislators asserting unprecedented influence in Washington, and receiving unparalleled goodies for their constituents. “There is no major pot of gold waiting for New York, only perhaps a few more scraps of pork sent our way,” he writes. The reasons he cites for New York receiving less money in federal funding than it gives in federal taxes are manifold — a lack of defense contracts and of retirees, for example. But the reason why he thinks this will not change boils down to the New York delegation being too far to the left to have much clout nor effect. By voting against tax cuts, for example, Malanga says the delegation undermines the interests of their constituents, “whose incomes are on average higher than those of taxpayers in most other states, [and who therefore] pay disproportionately more in federal taxes.”
The legislators from New York, Malanga claims, really just want an increase in funding for social programs –- and that, he argues, is not going to happen, because New York already ranks number one in per capita spending on many such programs. “By contrast,” he adds, “Mississippi (to take Rangel’s example) received about 25 percent less per capita in social program spending than New York, though Mississippi has a higher poverty rate.”
Update: Rangel has issued several, albeit oddly-worded, apologies. For a clue as to how Mississippians have reacted, see an account of the contretemps on the Web site of Station WDAM in Laurel-Hattiesburg, Mississippi which depicts Rangel literally as a horse’s ass. “In talking about wanting to bring more federal money to New York, he said he used Mississippi as an example because it gets back $1.77 for every $1 it sends to the federal government, and New York gets back 79 cents on the dollar.”By Jonathan Mandell on November 13, 2006, 6:55 am
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