A small Michigan subplot to the New York Times' story about how opposition to government benefits programs appears to spike in areas where government benefits are most prevalent.
In 2010, Dan Benishek ran for -- and won --Michigan's 1st Congressional District, which then covered the U.P. and a good hunk of the northeastern quadrant of the Lower Peninsula. Benishek was identified as a Tea Party candidate, with the commensurate focus on curtailing government spending and fiscal responsibility.
Now look at this interactive map from the Times. The Michigan counties where income is most reliant on federal spending are counties in Benishek's district. In fact, several counties in Benishek's district derive a larger percentage of income from government than highly urbanized counties:
Oscoda County-- 44.86 percent
Alcona County-- 44.33 percent
Roscommon County -- 44.21 percent
Gladwin County-- 41.72 percent
Ogemaw County-- 40.87 percent
Genesee County (Flint) -- 31.28 percent
Saginaw County-- 29.05 percent
Wayne County (Detroit) -- 28.04 percent
Kent County (Grand Rapids) -- 18.05 percent
National average -- 17.6 percent
Some of this surely has to do with the aging of rural areas as young people leave in search of employment. The NY Times graphic includes Social Security and Medicare spending in its calculations. Yet, there are arguments in Washington,D.C., to curtail spending on Medicare and raise the retirement age for Social Security.
A trend receiving too little coverage in Michigan these days is the growing outlook gap between urbanized Michigan and rural Michigan. In a 21st century economy, job creation is dominated by urbanized areas. What happens to rural areas if jobs fade away? One answer is that rural areas get older -- and as they get older, they get more dependent on federal benefit programs for the elderly.