Note to NPR: The only time Mississippi has ever gotten anything out of the federal government is ... always

››› ››› CHRISTINE SCHWEN

Reporting on U.S. Senate candidates campaigning at a Mississippi county fair, NPR's Debbie Elliott uncritically aired a clip of one fairgoer claiming that the "[o]nly time we have ever gotten anything out of the federal government was when the Republicans were there." In fact, according to the Tax Foundation, from 1981 through 2005, Mississippi has consistently received more from the federal government than the state's residents pay in taxes.

While reporting on U.S. Senate candidates campaigning to the conservative crowd at Mississippi's Neshoba County Fair, NPR congressional correspondent Debbie Elliott aired a clip of fairgoer James Mayfield claiming U.S. Senate candidate and former Mississippi Gov. Ronnie Musgrove's alignment with the Democratic Party hurts in Mississippi because the "[o]nly time we have ever gotten anything out of the federal government was when the Republicans were there." At no point in her report did Elliott note that, according to the Tax Foundation, Mississippi is a long-term net beneficiary of federal government funds, consistently receiving more from the government than the state's residents pay in taxes.

According to a report by The Tax Foundation, a tax research organization that claims "[t]axes should raise revenue for programs while consuming as small a portion of national income as possible, and should interfere with economic growth, trade and capital flows as little as possible," from 1981 through 2005, Mississippi consistently received more money than it paid in taxes. In each of those years, Mississippi also ranked in the top four states in terms of how much the state received for each dollar it paid in taxes.

From the August 6 edition of NPR's Morning Edition:

ELLIOTT: Musgrove does benefit from Obama's popularity among African-Americans in Mississippi, more then a third of the state's population. But that's not something Musgrove touts to this nearly all-white rural crowd. This is the place to advertise conservative credentials.

MUSGROVE: Now, make no mistake about it, I'm a Mississippi Democrat: pro-life, pro-gun.

ELLIOTT: It's the same strategy Democrat [Rep.] Travis Childers used to win an upset victory in [Sen. Roger] Wicker's [R-MS] north Mississippi House district earlier this year. As a former governor, Musgrove is better known statewide than Wicker. But that's not necessarily an asset with this crowd.

MAYFIELD: We've had Musgrove as governor. He didn't do much to help us.

ELLIOTT: James Mayfield is sitting on a cabin porch with friends, shelling butter beans.

MAYFIELD: I think he's aligned too much with the Democratic Party.

ELLIOTT: Does that hurt you in Mississippi?

MAYFIELD: Yes. Only time we have ever gotten anything out of the federal government was when the Republicans were there. And you might not know it, but Ronald Reagan opened his presidential campaign here. Biggest crowd I've ever seen.

ELLIOTT: That was 1980 and the audience was packed with frustrated Democrats, the hardliners known as yellow dogs. The only known recording of that speech was captured by someone in the crowd using a cheap handheld tape recorder.

REAGAN: I know that in speaking to this crowd, that I'm speaking to what has to be about 90 percent Democrats. [crowd boos] I just meant -- I just meant by party affiliation. I didn't mean how you feel now.

ELLIOTT: He went on to express support for states' rights, a controversial statement considered code for segregation in a part of the country with a violent history. Neshoba County was where Klansmen killed three civil rights workers in 1964.

Posted In
Economy, Taxes
Network/Outlet
NPR
Person
Debbie Elliott
Show/Publication
Morning Edition
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