I would like to run the numbers on a series of programs at the state and federal level, to see if they are worthwhile, and if so how. This is based on an observation of mine that states with stronger social welfare nets, such as CA, NY, and VT, have better economic output per capita than states that consider any welfare to be traitorous, and counterproductive.
First to be tested will be my initial observation, using statistics from This Overbearing Table. (Bureau of Economic Analysis, 2018). In the table, we can clearly see that my observation holds itself to be mostly true, with the exemption of states that have Oil money (ND, AL, TX). MA, CT, and NY make up the top three, while FL, MT, KY, Maine, AR, AL, SC, AZ, WV, ID, and MS round out the bottom of the table. After those three at the top, we find North Dakota, a state which between 2001 and 2015 doubled it's income per capita, which is a testament to the power oil still can have over a state's economy. The ten most populous states, (CA, TX, NY, FL, IL, PA, OH, MI, GA, and NC), have very different looks regarding GDP per capita.
Here we see that among the top ten most populous states, it generally holds true. Florida, at bottom spot, spent $3,803 (link) seeing lower income per capita than the US average ($51,337). New York, holding top spot, spent a whole $2000 more per person, a roughly ~166% difference, and gives more to the federal government than it receives, thusly being considered a "Donor state". New York spent $7,633 per person in it's budget for fy 2018 (link). California, at second position, spends $6,774. In fact, the only high spender of the list to have a smaller than average GDP per capita is Vermont, whose small population gets over $8,000 spent on it, per person, per year. A chart of the top nine spenders, compared to the US average, looks like this:
Only Oregon (in yellow), and Vermont (dammit Vermont, I'm trying to make a point here), fall below the US average. (link to graph page).
By Tax Rate
Ever since Reagan cut taxes in the 1980s, the Republican party has seen several major tax cuts go through, citing trickle down economics. Does this work? We have 50 small economic testing grounds to tell us. For this, I will be using information gathered from the Tax Foundation a Foundation devoted to lowering taxes. I will not be using local tax for this, as it was not included in the spending half. California, the second highest GDP per capita state, has a 7.25% State tax rate, the highest in the Union, Per capita leaders New York, meanwhile sit at 4%, far lower than average. Tax rates do not seem to have a significant effect on GDP. Indeed at the federal level, we have seen presidents who cut taxes typically struggle with economic matters unrelated to the cut, such as the Savings and loan Crisis (1989), Black Monday (1987), and the Housing Bubble (2007-8). Per person, the average rate payed by all Americans since 1979 has not changed significantly (link, 2nd table). The Corporate income tax, meanwhile, has dropped from 5% in 1979 to 2.7% currently, only beaten by W. Bush's rates in '07 to '08. Payroll tax, meanwhile, has increased for the lower quintiles by 3% since 1979, and remained roughly stable for the upper. This data, unfortunately, cuts off at 2014, so the effect of Trump's tax cuts will be a discussion for another time.
A flagship program of Social Democrats everywhere, a single payer healthcare system is projected to cost anywhere from $1.38 Trillion to $2.8 trillion per year, no small number. Assuming an equal raise across all taxes to pay for the system, how would such a system perform? It is no secret that the US healthcare system, as it stands, is in crisis. Lack of competition has driven costs up, as well as the proliferation of middlemen. The US spent $3.3 Trillion on healthcare in 2016 (link), and a single payer system makes Medicare and Medicaid obsolete. One consistent fear espoused by conservative politicians is that quality of care would drop off. There is no real metric that I know of to measure this, but on average, wait times for elective surgery in nations that had single payer systems, in 2013, was 44-45 days, with Portugal being the worst, and Scotland's NHS system the best (link). There is no information for the United States there, and according to OCED, there is no data available for the US at this time. In fact, there is no record keeping of average wait times for any majority private health system, making comparisons here difficult, and likely inaccurate.
Defense is typically on the chopping block for many social Democracies, but not as much as I thought going into this. Norway, Denmark, and Sweden all spend near enough 1.5% of their GDP on defense each year, while the US spends 3.1%, a clear increase, but not exactly the seismic difference I was expecting. The global average is 2.166%. Above that are France(2.2%). (link for military spending). This shows a difference in priorities between these nations, as several more developed nations have decided that a large military simply isn't useful to them, or is less useful than other places to spend the same money. As such, 2016 saw fewer than 600 people from the Americas and Europe die in battle. This includes terror attacks. Indeed, for the western world, the 21st century looks to be a much safer one than the 20th, perhaps necessitating less spending on the military. (link). Military spending and battle deaths have dropped since 1960. This data is for civilians only, I didn't bother looking up military deaths, I will do that at a later date.