A recent USA Today analysis of government disclosure and accounting records has revealed that counties that supported Obama last year have reaped more of the benefits of the stimulus package than those counties that supported Senator John McCain.
That federal aid, which amounts to around $17 billion, has been the first piece of the Obama administration’s stimulus package that can be tracked locally. The USA Today findings showed that Obama-counties received an average of $69 per person while McCain-counties received around $34.
While the disparity between the two looks bad on paper, it is not all that uncommon. As USA Today writes, “much of [the aid] has followed a well-worn path to places that regularly collect a bigger share of federal grants and contracts, guided by formulas that…leave little room for manipulation.”
The aid has gone to repairs for military bases, improvements in public housing and helping students to pay for college – all areas that eclipse political party lines. Additionally, about a third of the $17 billion allocated towards projects such as runway repaving and nuclear waste clean up has gone to counties that supported McCain.
It is far too soon to be drawing conclusions about a stimulus effort that favors Obama’s constituents. While we can keep an eye out for “political favoritism,” ensuring that the stimulus aid lands where it’s most needed (regardless of county) should be our first priority.