Despite benefitting the most from taxes, people in many of the United States’ poorest regions appear to oppose federal spending due to bigotry.
A study published in the American Politics Research journal and summarized in the Harvard Business Review reveals that conventional wisdom that places poor white Republicans in states that receive tax benefits against Democrats in states that pay higher taxes to benefit those in poverty “is not supported by evidence,” thus creating what the researchers referred to as a “federal spending paradox.”
This paradox led researchers to delve into three factors: “party identification, ideology, and racial resentment.” They defined racial resentment as “a post-Civil-Rights-era view rooted in the denial of continuing discrimination against African Americans, doubts about their work ethic, and resistance to government efforts to reduce racial inequalities.”
“As one might have guessed from the racial undertones often present in public discussions on fiscal politics, greater racial resentment was associated with lower support for spending,” the report noted. “This remained true even when we accounted for other demographic and political characteristics, such as gender, race, age, education, income, party identification, ideology, and so on.”
“In fact,” it continued, “racial resentment was far more powerful in predicting opposition to federal spending than economic self-interest was — for example, it was four times stronger than income.”