WHAT HAPPENED TO ‘THANKS, BUT NO THANKS’?…. Sarah Palin loves reform and hates earmarks. I know this, of course, because Sarah Palin insisted, over and over again, that this was the case during her recent national campaign. After the claim was exposed as a lie, Palin even repeated the notion that she rejected federal funding for the Bridge to Nowhere. If Alaskans wanted to take on an infrastructure project, they’d build it themselves, thank you very much.
So, should we assume Palin is going to reject a new round of earmarks for her state? Jonathan Stein and David Corn decided to look into it.
The omnibus spending bill that President Barack Obama signed on Wednesday includes earmarks that Palin sought.
The $410 billion bill has been lambasted by Republicans and a few Democrats for being loaded with nearly 9,000 earmarks covering $7.7 billion in projects…. But earmarks in the bill are quite generous to Palin’s state. According to Taxpayers for Common Sense, a Washington-based watchdog group, Alaska will receive more money, per capita, from the bill’s earmarks than any other state. (Alaska will pocket $209.71 for each state resident.) One hundred earmarks in the bill, worth a total of $143.9 million, are tagged for Palin’s state.
Asked by Mother Jones about the Alaska earmarks, Bill McAllister, Palin’s communications director, pointed to Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) as responsible for these provisions. But in an email, he noted that a “few of [the Alaska earmarks] were requested directly” by Palin. But how many? And which ones? McAllister declined to say. Mother Jones also asked McAllister if Palin believes it was appropriate for Murkowski and Young to insert these earmarks into the legislation and whether she will reject any earmarked funds. He did not answer those queries either.
It seems like just seven months ago Palin told the nation that she had “championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress.” Wait, that was just seven months ago.
And what kind of earmarks are we talking about here? Stein and Corn found that Congress will give Alaska $475,000 to construct a “heritage center” in the Chilkat Indian Village; $150,000 to support private industry participation in two international fishery groups; $200,000 for investigating and prosecuting bootlegging; $200,000 for researching the king crab; and $855,000 for building fairgrounds.
Are any of these projects wasteful? I haven’t the foggiest idea. But I can’t help but notice that John McCain put together a list of easily-defensible expenditures, but overlooked money headed to his former running mate.