Commentary

No, Hillary Clinton: It's the Red States That Are Dynamic

Stephen Moore
By Stephen Moore | March 28, 2018 | 8:56 AM EDT

U.S. map (Screenshot)

Hillary Clinton is being universally panned by Republicans and Democrats for her recent rant against people who voted for Donald Trump. While giving a speech in Mumbai, India, Clinton boasted that she "won the places that represent two-thirds of America's gross domestic product." She went on: "So I won the places that are optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward." As evidence, she pointed to places such as Illinois, where she won by sizable margins. Then she added that those who voted against her "didn't like black people getting rights, and don't like women ... getting jobs."

Many have commented on how her speech was offensive and arrogant — which it was. But what hasn't been noted for the record is that Clinton had her facts wrong.

For at least the last two decades, most of the dynamism and growth — as measured by population movements, income growth and job creation — has been fleeing from the once economically dominant blue states that Clinton won and relocating to the red states that Trump won.

Here's the evidence. Of the 12 blue states that Hillary Clinton won by the largest margins — Hawaii, California, Vermont, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, Illinois, Washington, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Connecticut and Delaware — all but three of them lost residents through domestic migration (excluding immigration) over the last 10 years. In fact, combined, all 12 lost an average of 6 percent of their populations to net out-migration over the past decade. California and New York alone have lost 3 million people in the past 10 years.

Now let's contrast the Clinton states with the 12 states that went to Trump with the largest margins. Ten out of them — North Dakota, Oklahoma, Idaho, South Dakota, Kentucky, Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, Nebraska and Kansas — were net population gainers.

The outpouring of residents from blue to red states almost has been one of the biggest demographic stories in American history, with a thousand people making the move every day on average. If you go to states such as Arizona, Florida, Tennessee and Texas these days, you'll see many blue-state license plates.

Pretty much the same pattern holds true for jobs. The job gains in the red states that Trump carried by the widest margins had about twice the job creation rate as the blue states Clinton carried most comfortably.

 

Clinton mentioned gross domestic product numbers. While it is true that the blue states of the two coasts and several of the Midwestern states are richer than the redder states of the South and mountain regions, she failed to mention the giant transfer of wealth from Clinton to Trump states. IRS tax return data confirm that from 2006 to 2016, Clinton's states lost $113.6 billion in combined wealth, whereas Trump's states gained $116 billion.

The Clinton states are in a slow bleed. That is in no small part because their governments have adopted the entire "progressive" playbook: high tax rates; high welfare benefits; heavy hand of regulation; excessive minimum wages; and war on fossil fuels. These states dutifully check all the progressive boxes.

Even more unbelievable to us was Clinton citing Illinois as a dynamic place. There probably isn't another state in America that can match it for financial despair and incompetence. After decades of left-wing rule, things are so bad in Illinois that residents are fleeing on net to West Virginia and Kentucky to find a better future.

Even when it comes to income equality, the left's favorite measure of progressive success, blue states carried by Clinton fare worse than red states. According to a 2016 report by the Economic Policy Institute, three of the states with the largest gaps between rich and poor are New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts. Sure, Boston, Manhattan and Silicon Valley are booming as the rich prosper. But outside these areas are deep pockets of poverty and wage stagnation.

The "progressive" tax-and-spend agenda has been put on trial. The policies not only lead to much slower growth but also benefit the rich and politically well-connected at the expense of everyone else.

Getting these statistics right — about where the growth and dynamism is really happening in America — is important because if we want to be a prosperous nation, we need to learn what works and what doesn't.

We need national economic policies that have been shown to work at the state level. Trump wants to make America look like Florida and Tennessee. Clinton wanted to make America look more like Illinois and Connecticut. Maybe that's the real reason why she lost.

Stephen Moore is a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation and an economic consultant with Freedom Works. Arthur Laffer is chairman of Laffer Associates.

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