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Substantive Criticism of Palin
Posted by: MichaelW on Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Not from the left, of course, but from the Cato Institute regarding Palin's record on taxes:
Palin supported and signed into law a $1.5 billion tax increase on oil companies in the form of higher severance taxes. One rule of thumb is that higher taxes cause less investment. Sure enough, State Tax Notes reported (January 7): “After ACES was passed, ConocoPhillips, Alaska’s most active oil exploration company and one of the top three producers, announced it was canceling plans to build a diesel fuel refinery at the Kuparuk oil field. ConocoPhillips blamed the cancellation on passage of ACES [the new tax]. The refinery would have allowed the company to produce low-sulfur diesel fuel onsite for its vehicles and other uses on the North Slope, rather than haul the fuel there from existing refineries.”
I think we've noted that here before, but if not, there it is. Not exactly small government or libertarian minded, nor the type of policy that leads to growth of anything besides government. As Chris Edwards notes in the linked post, Palin did offer some targeted tax cuts, but they were more gimmicky than substantive.

In another Cato post, Jeff Patch fleshes out Palin's record, noting that it is somewhat spotty:
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has a mixed record on taxes and spending. She’s clearly erred on a few fiscal decisions during her tenure as mayor of Wasilla and as governor. Palin seems to operate from a small government mindset, which makes her few heresies on economic issues puzzling.
Patch looks at the "Bridge to Nowhere" ordeal, and finds that Palin's decision was most likely driven more by fiscal responsibility than by any opposition to earmarks. In fact, as also described in a WaPo story today, Palin is no stranger to praying at the Congressional altar:
At best, Palin has been a convert on earmarks (and perhaps not a full convert). As governor of Alaska, she has requested 31 earmarks worth $197.8 million for next year, according to indicted Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens’ website, the Los Angeles Times reported. As mayor of Wasilla, Palin regularly traveled to Washington to request earmarks. The city obtained funding for several projects, including a bus depot ($600,000) and a water and sewer project ($1.5 million), according to Taxpayers for Common Sense.
There have been some bright spots for Palin as well, according to Patch. Although she raised taxes and spending as Mayor of Wasilla, she also cut her own salary and lowered property taxes. And as Governor she took a hatchet to the budget:
As governor, Palin slashed more than 10 percent of the state’s budget in 2007 (Question: Besides his checkbook, has Barack Obama ever balanced — much less cut — a budget?). She vetoed $268 million in state projects and imposed objective criteria on the projects.
Again, Palin does not have an inspiring record on tax and spend policies, although she does seem to have some fiscal sense. Patch admonishes libertarians not to get too excited about her candidacy:
Libertarians should be cautiously optimistic about Palin. She has shown a dogged willingness to go to war with the worst elements of the Republican Party, but her missteps on some tax and spending issues means that libertarians should aggressively pressure a McCain-Palin administration to toe the small government line.
Eventually an adult in the Democratic Party will get around to challenging some of these weak areas, and will be interesting to see how the McCain camp responds.

No politician is perfect, and they generally have to deal with the politics of the moment as best as they can. A natural resource-rich state like Alaska, used to living off the federal government teat, may not have as much patience with an elected official preaching a more libertarian line on tax policy. Perhaps, Palin did the best she could do given the circumstances. However, with her record as thin as it is, these sorts of decisions loom large and should give fiscal conservatives some pause.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

However, with her record as thin as it is, these sorts of decisions loom large and should give fiscal conservatives some pause.

Compared to whom? Based on that record, Palin is far and away the most fiscally conservative of the four people running for office.
Written By: the wolf
URL: http://
Compared to whom?
Mostly to McCain since it is his policies that will be taking the lead. Plus, the more Palin is sold as a fiscal conservative, the more the Dems will have to attack on the substance of the issue.
Based on that record, Palin is far and away the most fiscally conservative of the four people running for office.
True enough. That, however, doesn’t make her tax policies anything to excited about.
Written By: MichaelW
You have to look at the whole picture. If you only focus on tax policy you would want to stay home in despair at any of the people running.

Looking at all of Palin’s credentials, particularly her refoms I am more pleased with her than with Johnny Mac.
Written By: kyleN
The city obtained funding for several projects, including a bus depot ($600,000) and a water and sewer project ($1.5 million),
Is there more info on this bit?

If the city obtained funding through grants, they were likely from the transportation fund in the first case, not sure in the second. You don’t have to go to Washington to obtain that sort of money, and it is dolled out for pretty specific purposes. Like alternative transportation (buses,) or improving infrastructure.
Written By: Keith_Indy
Likewise, Reagan wasn’t perfect, either. Although frankly he was way better than and Libertain Party candidate I know of . . .
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Here’s some, Keith:
In fiscal 2000, Wasilla received a $1 million earmark, tucked into a transportation appropriations bill, for a rail and bus project in the town. And in the winter of 2000, Palin appeared before congressional appropriations committees to seek earmarks, according to a report in the Anchorage Daily News.

Palin and the Wasilla City Council increased Silver’s fee from $24,000 to $36,000 a year by 2001, Senate records show.

Soon after, the city benefited from additional earmarks: $500,000 for a mental health center, $500,000 for the purchase of federal land and $450,000 to rehabilitate an agricultural processing facility. Then there was the $15 million rail project, intended to connect Wasilla with the town of Girdwood, where Stevens has a house.

In fiscal year 2002, Wasilla took in $6.1 million in earmarks — about $1,000 in federal money for every resident. By contrast, Boise, Idaho — which has more than 190,000 residents — received $6.9 million in earmarks in fiscal 2008.
I didn’t see anything specifically about the water and sewer project being an earmark, but there’s plenty of money accounted for via such a source.
Written By: MichaelW
I apologize for my overheated rhetoric in the last thread, but it’s been eyepopping watching the fiscal crusaders ignore this. Very courageous, Mike, you’re the first one to break cover, albeit in a, um, lets just say fair-minded and understanding manner, to a degree that would put you out of business if you applied consistently.

Still, I don’t think you have represented the magnitude of the hypocrisy of the McCain/Palin campiagn. See here:

(Of course the left has been offering substantive criticism, unless you close your eyes..)

THE EARMARK QUEEN....Dean Baker puts Sarah Palin’s prowess in trawling for federal pork into perspective:

As the Washington Post reports this morning, Governor Pallin managed to secure $27 million (as in 27 Woodstock museums) in earmarks for her little town of 6,700 back when she was mayor. That comes to more than $4000 per person.

....If every mayor was as successful at taking in federal largess as Governor Palin was for her little town, the tab would be $1.2 trillion, well over one-third of the federal budget. That is serious cash. (In fairness, Governor Palin collected her haul over several years, so the comparison to single year’s budget is not entirely appropriate.)

Well then, let’s be appropriate. The lobbying firm Palin hired scored this money over the course of four years, so the appropriate comparison is that if everyone were as dedicated as Palin to collecting pork, the tab would be $300 billion per year. That’s about 10% of the entire budget and about one-third of the discretionary budget.

In other words, impressive! Perhaps somebody could do a parody of John McCain’s favorite song, ABBA’s "Dancing Queen," on this meaty subject?
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
I apologize for my overheated rhetoric in the last thread, but it’s been eyepopping watching the fiscal crusaders ignore this.
Small point. The comparison needs to be made between McCain/Palin and Obama/Biden.

McCain has plenty of defects, and no doubt Palin has a few as well, but compared to the likes of Obama (no executive experience and no accomplishments, and radical leftist associates) and Biden (no executive experience and few accomplishments) the contrast is striking.

Looks like the Democrats are about to loose yet another election. And when you loose, you might want to ponder why.
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Small point. The comparison needs to be made between McCain/Palin and Obama/Biden.

That was precisely the point of my first comment. It’s a little late in the game to be wondering if there is someone more fiscally conservative available.
Written By: the wolf
URL: http://
Well, I’ll be glad if Palin’s requesting earmarks brings into discussion the entire business of Congress writing in earmarks. And then we can see where the chips lay (certainly not at McCain’s feet.)

In any case, earmarks require far more then 2 to tango. Palin may have requested them, which is a ding against her for fiscal, but others voted to give them.

It would also be interesting to see if any earmarks that Palin requested, benefited her family, or the family of politicians you wanted to be in good graces with.

In any case, her fiscal performance as governor has some high points. In balance, I’d put her performance over Obama/Biden.
Written By: Keith_Indy
Biden just said that Palin was qualified to be VP. That video clip, spliced with the clip of him saying that Obama is unqualified, would be (will be?) gold for McCain.

Written By: Don
URL: http://
You mean Palin took advantage of Federal Money being offered to those who could grab it? Wow, I am shocked, SHOCKED to hear of this!

I don’t mind that mayors and governors take the cash, I object to COngress and POTUS OFFERING it....

Danny Hastert, George W., Nancy and Harry, just say "NO" to ear marks...stop spending money like drunken sailors, and pretty soon mayors and governors won’t be grabbing that cash and making a stash....
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Personally, Palin’s record is A+ considering Obama and Biden want to hike taxes on everyone making more than $3 a day.

No one every said that Palin was a libertarian. Want a libertarian? Vote for Bob Barr. Of course, you can join the overflow crowd of 26 people who are currently considering doing so, but that just means that Barr held his "convention" in a phone booth in Upchuck, USA.
Written By: James Marsden
URL: http://
When the Anchorage airport (Ted Stevens International) was built I ridiculed it to many tourists (I was driving a motel van at the time) as an example of earmarks. That said, I am not reflexively opposed to anything labeled earmarks. Some projects are needed. The TVA, Hoover dam, etc are probably earmarks that greatly aided economic development and wouldn’t have been done via the private sector.
Some background on Wasilla. Alaska doesn’t have counties-they have boroughs. Wasilla is the largest community in the Mat-Su (Matanuska-Susitna) borough. The Mat-Su borough is 22,000 square miles, approx the size of West Virginia. There are 3 incorporated "cities"- Wasilla, Palmer, and Houston. The population of the entire borough is about 60,000. Some assistance is needed and appropriate.
That said, scrutiny is required.
Written By: tom scott
URL: http://
On the severance tax, I thought Beldar had a pretty good overview.

As far as the earmarks go (and I’ll admit I haven’t looked at this closely yet) - it seems to me that if earmarks are the mechanism in place to get funding for your city, then as Mayor it’s your obligation to fight for them. This goes for a Governor as well to a degree, although the more influence that you have to change the system, the more obliged you are to fight to change that system if you don’t believe in it.

Written By: JH
URL: http://
Note that we can’t have this sort of discussion on Obama’s handling of things, since he really hasn’t handled anything.

Obama has made the point that he has managed his campaign and hence has more experience than Polin, but he in fact has a campaign manager. Besides which, I think his campaign has been poorly run, reactive, with McCain consistently within Obama’s OODA loop.
Written By: Don
URL: http://
I found this link over at Sullivan’s site. Now never mind Sullivan for a minute and focus on what he linked to.

I don’t know of the accuracy of these claims, but something to look at anyway. And I’m sure there are plenty of people looking at it now.

A Wasillan on Sarah Palin

During her 6 years as Mayor, she increased general government expenditures by over 33%. During those same 6 years the amount of taxes collected by the City increased by 38%.

This was during a period of low inflation (1996-2002). She reduced progressive property taxes and increased a regressive sales tax which taxed even food. The tax cuts that she promoted benefited large corporate property owners way more than they benefited residents. The huge increases in tax revenues during her mayoral administration weren’t enough to fund everything on her wish list though, borrowed money was needed, too. She inherited a city with zero debt, but left it with indebtedness of over $22 million. What did Mayor Palin encourage the voters to borrow money for? Was it the infrastructure that she said she supported? The sewage treatment plant that the city lacked? or a new library? No. $1m for a park. $15m-plus for construction of a multi-use sports complex which she rushed through to build on a piece of property that the City didn’t even have clear title to, that was still in litigation 7 yrs later—to the delight of the lawyers involved! The sports complex itself is a nice addition to the community but a huge money pit, not the profit-generator she claimed it would be. She also supported bonds for $5.5m for road projects that could have been done in 5-7 yrs without any borrowing. While Mayor, City Hall was extensively remodeled and her office redecorated more than once. These are small numbers, but Wasilla is a very small city.
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
I don’t know of the accuracy of these claims,
Quite biased, at the least. It brings up the Palin "troopergate" scandal which isn’t a scandal.

However, at least she has a record that can be examined. Obama has no executive experience, no accomplishments. He’s pretty much admitted as much himself, claiming his campaingn for President as his "experience".

Written By: Don
URL: http://
Palin, for better or worse is a campaign driven pick. Its worked. She’s sent the Left into a Tizzy. The Obama campaign now thinks they are running for the VP spot as they compare Obama’s record to Palin’s.

The only way it could be better is if there was a debate this week or next.
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
Palin, for better or worse is a campaign driven pick.
Perhaps so, but she is a solid pick, nonetheless. I’d pick her as President (never mind VP) over Obama, Hillary, Edwards and Biden.

The Democrats provided a flawed field this year, just as they did in ’04. The highest finishing D candidate who really was well prepared for the office was Richardson.

On top of that, Palin appears to be very promising moving forward. In 4 - 8 years she could easily move into the top spot. Facing VP Palin in 2012 is no doubt a nightmare for Hillary.
Written By: Don
URL: http://
The choice is now down to McCain/Palin vs Obama/Biden. It’s not going to be me, although I can guarantee my policies would be 100% pleasing to myself.

Life is like that. Most adults deal with it. Others vote Democrat.
Written By: MarkD
URL: http://
Over 77% of our national debt was accrued under the last three Republican presidents.
Written By: Karl Samon
URL: http://

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