Oklahoma should strive to be below national average in federal spending impact

The Oklahoma Editorial Published: September 12, 2010

Liberals will find fodder in a report showing Oklahoma gets so much benefit from federal largesse. So much, in fact, that perhaps its citizens should stop opposing the federal government's rapid expansion. And stop giving U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, a deficit hawk, a virtual free pass to re-election this year.

Oklahoma ranked 26th in federal spending per person in the 2009 fiscal year. That puts us just below a national average inflated on the high end by Alaska and Virginia and offset on the low end by Utah and Nevada.

U.S. Census Bureau data has the state just about where you'd expect it to be — smack in the middle statistically, just as it's smack in the middle geographically. Yet the state is 11th in per capita wages and salaries paid to federal employees, including the military, and 12th in the amount spent for retirement and disability.

So what about that liberal plea to ease up on the deficit carping?

For starters, it's a national trend and includes states that heavily favored Barack Obama. Throughout the country, voters recognize that government is growing too fast and deficit spending is growing too large. Losing federal jobs — or at least slowing the pace of hiring and salary growth — is a price many are willing to pay.

Second, Oklahoma has a disproportionately high number of military instillations in relation to its population. That's good, given that defense is a core constitutional function. The more active duty military who live here, the greater the number who are likely to retire here and collect pensions.

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