"Thanks, but no thanks" now, Sarah? Give Alaska's NEW earmarks back!
[In the debate Friday night, John McCain railed against earmarks. He railed against Barack Obama for stopping the practice only after he decided to run for president. He left out the greatest earmark grabber of all in the presidential race, his vice presidential candidate.]
We all know that Sarah Palin lied about the "Bridge to Nowhere" and her opposition to earmarks.
However, now she has a chance to come clean and prove her mettle as a fiscal reformer and true "maverick".
House members have passed the federal omnibus spending bill, all $670 billion of it, and the senate is expected to follow suit quickly. All of this so they can get to the $700 billion bailout bill.
So, how well did GOP standard bearers John McCain and Sarah Palin fare in their battle against earmarks?
Well, there was a total of $6.5 billion in earmarks in this bill (there can be more in other bills).
Mr. McCain has denounced earmarks for years, saying they distort and corrupt the legislative process. Mr. Obama has obtained earmarks in the past, but in March he endorsed a one-year moratorium so Congress could re-examine the way they are awarded.
How about Governor Palin's Alaska?
Remember her famous line?
During her first speech after being named as McCain's surprise pick as a running mate, Palin said she had told Congress "'thanks but no thanks' on that bridge to nowhere." In the city Ketchikan, the planned site of the so-called "Bridge to Nowhere," political leaders of both parties said the claim was false and a betrayal of their community, because she had supported the bridge and the earmark for it secured by Alaska's Congressional delegation during her run for governor.
Then, she triumphantly told the crowd she sent the money back!
Uh . . . there's a small problem with that statement too.
It's a lie, too.
The state, however, never gave back any of the money that was originally earmarked for the Gravina Island bridge, said [Ketchikan Democratic Mayor Bob] Weinstein and [Palin's Ketchikan campaign coordinator Republican Mike] Elerding.
In fact, the Palin administration has spent "tens of millions of dollars" in federal funds to start building a road on Gravina Island that is supposed to link up to the yet-to-be-built bridge, Weinstein said.
"She said 'thanks but no thanks,' but they kept the money," said Elerding about her applause line.
How did Alaska make out in earmarks this time? How far did it fall in federal earmark funding?
Senator Ted Stevens, the Alaska Republican who is on trial just a few blocks from the Capitol, appears to have gotten more earmarks than anyone else: 39 items totaling $238.5 million, according to the organization’s tally.
However, the governor pledges she has reduced her earmark intake.
This year she submitted to Congress a list of Alaska projects worth $197.8 million, including $2 million to research crab productivity in the Bering Sea and $7.4 million to improve runway lighting at eight Alaska airports. A spokesman said she cut the original list of 54 projects to 31.
"So while Sen. McCain was going after cutting earmarks in Washington," said Steve Ellis of Taxpayers for Common Sense, "Gov. Palin was going after getting earmarks."
Someone else must have sneaked in with the additional eight projects costing some $40 million.
Actually, the Palin Administration said that earmarks were just the whipping boy of Washington politicians unwilling to face the major challenges presented by the federal government.
My Turn: Palin not abandoning earmarks altogether
By John Katz | Juneau Empire
With the coming of spring in the nation's capital, Congress has begun its annual ritual of producing a federal budget.
While Congressional earmarks represent less than 1 percent of the federal budget, a much higher percentage of the appropriations debate focuses on this topic.
One reason for this is several controversial earmarks and election-year politics. Another is that earmarks have become a metaphor for the federal budget generally. It's a lot easier to talk about earmarks than to address difficult budget issues, such as burgeoning domestic entitlement programs and defense spending.
The Juneau Empire identifies John Katz as director of State-Federal Relations and Special Counsel to Gov. Sarah Palin.
So, I guess now that Governor Palin has $238 million of fresh earmarks, she'll just have to say "thanks, but no thanks" to congress, and really send the money back this time.
Better yet, there's still time for The Sarah to have Sen., Stevens pull the requests from the senate bill.
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