Governor Sarah Palin is No Reformer...What is She Then?


What we have been hearing from the MSM and the Left is that John McCain and Sarah Palin are liars, especially when it comes to Sarah Palin's record on fiscal reform. Most notably the infamous, "Bridge to Nowhere" and earmarks. Do they have a point or is this a partisan attack? The problem is neither side is offering anything more than surface evidence to back up their claims, that is just annoying. Well here is some sound evidence you decide. First, "The Bridge to Nowhere."

Palin had this to say while running for governor in September 2006, Palin assured the Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce she was all for the bridge. “The money that’s been appropriated for the project, it should remain available for a link, an access process as we continue to evaluate the scope and just how best to just get this done,” Palin said then, according to a story in the Ketchikan Daily News. “This link is a commitment to help Ketchikan expand its access, to help this community prosper.”

October of 2006, Palin was asked directly, “Would you continue state funding for the proposed Knik Arm and Gravina Island bridges?” Her answer: “Yes. I would like to see Alaska’s infrastructure projects built sooner rather than later. The window is now — while our congressional delegation is in a strong position to assist.”

Palin took over as governor in December 2006. "In February 2007 her proposed state budget didn't include state funding for the Ketchikan bridge. A spokesman noted that Palin's proposed capital budget focused on projects that could draw federal money, too. At that point, according to the Ketchikan Daily News, the cost of the bridge had risen $67-million and former Gov. Frank Murkowski had recommended putting $195-million in the state budget for Ketchikan's bridge."

This was from a September 2007 article which appeared in the Anchorage Daily News "Ketchikan desires a better way to reach the airport, but the $398 million bridge is not the answer," Gov. Sarah Palin said in a prepared statement. "

This was taken from Anchorage Daily News concerning confusion about her stance, "One year later, Ketchikan's Republican leaders said they were blindsided by Palin's decision to pull the plug. "

Here is something that is very interesting. "Congress eventually removed the earmark language but the money still went to Alaska, leaving it up to the administration of then-Gov. Frank Murkowski to decide whether to go ahead with the bridges or spend the money on something else." Anchorage Daily News

This brings up two points of contention for me. Congress still gave the money to Alaska even after the upheaval the bridge caused, essentially they left it up to the state of Alaska to decide what to so with the money. Congress fulfills the role of Pontius Pilate in this one. They give the money to Alaska but the earmark language is removed, Alaska still gets the money for the bridge, and if they build it Congress can claim no responsibility in the matter.

Secondly, if this statement is true it would explain why Palin blindsided them by not going through with the bridge project. The money was allocated, Alaska had the choice, and Congress was protected. But, inevitably she did not. Reason, the bridge was getting over bloated to about $400,000,000. Now, here is something else that I came across.

This is also from the Anchorage Daily News, "Local leaders shouldn't have been surprised when Palin announced she was turning to less-costly alternatives, Leighow said. Indeed, Leighow produced a report quoting Palin, late in the governor's race, indicating she would also consider alternatives to a bridge." Funny, you aren't hearing about this.

Now onto her record on earmarks and fiscal responsibility. It is common knowledge that Alaska is first in the Federal dollars spent in the state versus federal dollars it returns in the form of taxes. per captia. Although, Alaska is only 44th in the nation for the amount of federal expenditures it receives as of FY 2005. AAAS Palin has claimed to be against earmarks and wasteful government spending.

Earmarks: "For the 2007 federal budget year, the administration of former Gov. Frank Murkowski submitted 63 earmark requests totaling $350 million, Palin's staff said. That slid to 52 earmarks valued at $256 million in Palin's first year. This year, the governor's office asked the delegation to help them land 31 earmarks valued at $197 million." Anchorage Daily News

But the Citizens Against Government Waste tells a little bit different tale. (2005) Alaska again led the nation with $985 per capita ($646 million), or 30 times the national pork average of $33. 2005 Pig Book Summary (2008) Alaska led the nation with $556 per capita ($380 million). 2008 Pig Book Summary

Now, this is not just earmarks, this is total federal expenditures including grants etc. The total savings to Alaska, since Plain entered office, is a difference of $266,000,000 totally, with a $197,000,000 savings just in earmarks alone. Still a ways to go, but some remarkable improvement.

Budget: This was taken from the Anchorage Daily News concerning the FY 2008 Capital budget. "Gov. Sarah Palin cut $268 million from the capital budget on Friday. That's a lot of money, but still less than 10 percent of the entire $3 billion capital budget."

In my opinion Palin is no reformer. She is, as Fred Barnes put in his Weekly Standard article, a pragmatist. Again, this is my take on her. She did quite a bit of good in her 20 months a Governor of Alaska and has displayed a willingness to go against the system and try to improve it, despite the controversy. From her time as mayor of Wasilla to Governor of Alaska there has been an interesting development of pragmatism and growth, both politically and personally.




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