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I'm often perplexed by the content in Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s column and wonder if he is free from fact-checking because his words appear on the op-ed page. One particular paragraph in his column, "American values under Obama" (Nov. 2), left me even more confused than usual.

First, Mr. Ehrlich trots out the old canard about blue states requesting increased federal spending while lauding "heartland" states (read: red states) for practicing fiscal discipline. According to the Atlantic Magazine and the Wall Street Journal, the 10 biggest state "takers" of federal aid include seven deep reds (headed up by South Carolina and North Dakota and including red stalwarts Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Louisiana and West Virginia) with two "purple" states (Florida and New Mexico) and only one reliably blue (Hawaii which is due primarily to its geographical isolation). The least biggest takers, states that actually return federal dollars? Six are deep blue, with only one red (Nebraska) and the other three purple.

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Mr. Ehrlich also writes of the "growth of the federal deficit, now exceeding $17.6 trillion." Well, the deficit did reach $1.4 trillion in 2009, caused by the recession. But the latest figures from the Congressional Budget Office for 2014 puts the federal deficit at $483 billion, the smallest it's been since 2008 (George W. Bush's last year in office) and as a percentage of gross domestic product, the smallest since 2007. Facts, anyone?

Evan Balkan, Towson

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