The national debt is $31.5 trillion, and The Swamp shows no sign of changing its ways. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that publicly held debt is on a path to reach “118 percent of GDP by 2033 — which would be the highest level ever recorded.” Many more tens of trillions of dollars are pledged to the beneficiaries of entitlement programs — and not a penny has been set aside to honor that commitment.

The current occupant of the White House doesn’t care about the problem. Neither did the guy before him. Neither did the guy before him. Neither did the guy before him. Ignoring the problem of D.C.’s fiscal doom is a bipartisan disgrace.

So responsible officials at the state level — politicians, business leaders, religious figures, executives of charitable organizations — need to start planning for a future in which the mighty river of federal cash dwindles to a trickle. A useful tool to gauge vulnerability is WalletHub’s “2023’s Most & Least Federally Dependent States.” Assessing “two key dimensions, ‘State Residents’ Dependency’ and ‘State Government’s Dependency,'” the personal-finance website examined federal revenue as a share of state budgets, the return on taxes paid to Washington, and the prevalence of federal jobs.

In the American Southwest, four states fared well, two performed in the middle, and two scored abysmally.

It will come as no shock to many Utah residents that their state is a star. It ranked #48 in D. C. dependence, behind only New Jersey and Washington. With an admirably low poverty rate — a key metric used to qualify for welfare programs — not much of a military presence, and and not a single federally funded research and development center, the Beehive State will stand on its own as the national government’s money train begins to derail. At #45, California is in an enviable position as well. (Although the state’s recent embrace of socioeconomic collapse is cause for alarm about what might come.) Nevada (#40) and Colorado #41) are two more Southwestern states that find themselves on fairly solid ground.

Texas (#29) and Oklahoma (#18) have ample room for improvement. At the bottom for the region, Arizona (#8) and New Mexico (#5) should be in near-panic mode. (One quarter of the residents of the Land of Enchantment are on food stamps — a rate five times that of Utah’s use of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.)

As Duquesne University economist Antony Davies put it, the federal government’s present financial condition is “like a household with a $60,000 income being $450,000 in debt, and then promising to pay for 18 kids to attend four-year private colleges.” Such profligacy can’t last, and it won’t.

In D.C.-addicted states, prominent men and women in positions of power should work overtime to adjust to a new fiscal reality that is, undeniably, imminent. Instead of eagerly accepting more “investment” from an insolvent national government, they must pursue every available means to grow the private sector and reduce welfare rolls. Federal “generosity” is coming to an end. And states that emulate Utah stand the best chance to handle a challenge far more dangerous than “climate change” and “income inequality.”

By D. Dowd Muska

Dowd brings nearly 30 years of research and writing experience to the Institute. A veteran of several think tanks, he is an expert on government at the municipal, county, state, and federal levels.

Raised on an apple orchard in the Connecticut River Valley, D. Dowd Muska is a researcher, writer, editor, and commentator. His focus is the nexus of fiscal policy, economic development, and technology.

Mr. Muska is the author of numerous policy studies, and his writing has appeared in newspapers throughout the nation, including the Las Vegas Review-Journal, The Detroit News, the Orlando Sentinel, the Cape Cod Times, the Santa Fe New Mexican, the Hartford Courant, the Waco Tribune-Herald, the Albuquerque Journal, the New Haven Register, and The Oklahoman. A graduate of The George Washington University, he lives in the Albuquerque metro area, but has started (very) early planning for a relocation to the Sierra Blanca in Lincoln County, New Mexico. He recently launched the Substack platform No Dowd About It.

One reply on “Surviving D.C.’s Debt Disaster”

Dream on. After 90 years of single party Dem rule at the state level, NM has an enormous welfare class and an enormous public sector workforce. Combined, those two groups comprise over 50 per cent of the electorate. They have voted for and will continue to vote for a continuation of the status quo.

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