Analysis and News

Palin's Record On Earmarks

My esteemed co-blogger has had a couple of broadcast pieces, on Tuesday's ATC and today's Morning Edition, examining Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's complicated record on earmarks. We have some extra goodies on Palin's record here.

Gov. Palin and running mate John McCain have trumpeted her opposition to earmarks like the infamous Alaskan "bridge to nowhere," which became a rallying call against congressional pork projects. But when she was running for governor in 2006, Palin told voters she supported projects like the bridge. Here's a clip of Palin at an Alaska Conservation Voters candidate forum saying, "I do support the infrastructure projects that are on tap here in the state of Alaska that our congressional delegations worked hard for."

At another candidate forum, Palin had kind words for Rep. Don Young (R-AK) and his renowned ability to bring home the federal bacon.

"And our congressional delegation, God bless 'em. They do a great job for us," she said at the forum hosted by the Alaska Professional Design Council. "Representative Don Young, especially God bless him, with transportation — Alaska did so well under the very basic provisions of the transportation act that he wrote just a couple of years ago. We had a nice bump there. We're very, very fortunate to receive the largesse that Don Young was able to put together for Alaska."

Now, it was Young who plopped the "bridge to nowhere" in federal legislation to begin with. But even that kind of influence doesn't help him these days. Not too many people are trying to cozy up with Young now that he's in trouble — and clearly Palin has changed her mind about him.

What kind of trouble? The 18-term Alaska congressman is under federal investigation in a corruption scandal that has already nailed several state lawmakers and produced an indictment of Alaska's other earmark champion, Sen. Ted Stevens (R).

It's not even clear whether Young survived his primary election last week. His main opponent was Sean Parnell, Palin's lieutenant governor. The free-market Club For Growth ran ads attacking his free and easy use of federal tax money for earmarks. He seemed so vulnerable that Democrats actually spent money to help him because they thought he'd be weaker than Parnell in the general election. Palin, no longer feeling so rosy about Young's "largesse" for Alaska, backed Parnell.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Why are earmarks considered a "bad" thing when it can be used towards or for good causes?

Sent by Jade | 2:12 PM | 9-7-2008

"Complicated record on earmarks"?

It's not complicated at all--she is for (or against) whatever advances her political career at that particular moment.

Sent by Thomas | 2:14 PM | 9-8-2008

The fact that obama hasn't dropped this audio into a TV ad shows he doesn't have the guts to win

Sent by steve | 5:49 PM | 9-8-2008

That's another proof of Palin's link to old Washington politics! another reason to back Obama, a real agent of change!

Sent by Heather | 7:49 AM | 9-9-2008

Here's a partial description of a famous person's "primary rules": "never admit a fault or wrong; never accept blame; if you repeat [a lie] frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.

The author was the U.S. Office of Strategic Services, and the subject of the description was their assessment of Hitler. McCain seems to be using some OLD style politics in this election, and people should be very concerned. (Unless, of course, he and Palin come clean and 'fess up to what everyone who has done any research knows to be true in terms of at least those earmarks and that darned bridge.)

Sent by Randy | 11:38 AM | 9-11-2008

Obama and Biden both supported the funds for that bridge.

I agree with Palin, the local governments are "best able to make judgements on the projects that do effect them."

Sent by Matt Sanchez | 11:44 AM | 9-11-2008

Earmarks are not altogether a bad thing, but when a state has 10 times the normal amount per capita, it seems that everyone's tax dollars are not being apportioned properly. The big deal is that she is quite frankly a liar in that she says one thing and does another. Not exactly the most redeeming quality in a national leader. We need intelligent, fair leadership for a CHANGE!

Sent by Mike | 11:53 AM | 9-11-2008

As Palin's skeletons come to light,
she's not looking like McCain;s White Knight.
Her earmarks lie
Troopergate won't die
Could her VP demise be in sight?

Sent by Diane W. | 12:07 PM | 9-11-2008

The problem not that she opposed or supports the bridge, but using it as a campaign slogan that she is a reformer is misleading. She should explain why she changed her mind and stop using it as a way to mislead people about her record.

Sent by Chris Manders | 12:42 PM | 9-11-2008

The leader for this story on the NPR home page says, "The VP nominee touts her opposition to the 'bridge to nowhere,' but critics in the media say it's a half-truth."

That sentence itself is a half-truth. Palin's claim about the "Bridge to Nowhere," and more broadly, her claim that she opposed federal earmarks, aren't half-truths, they are out-and-out lies.

Sent by Gary Cooper | 1:15 PM | 9-11-2008

I have no problem with NPR reviewing Sarah Palin's record. What bothers me is the line, "We have some extra goodies on Palin's record here." That reinforces my discomfort with NPR -- that it is simply a mouthpiece for the left. Would the author write such a pejorative line about Sen. Obama?

Sent by Jeff Schrade | 1:18 PM | 9-11-2008

I feel there is more about Sarah Palin that we do not know. I hope that all of the things that are beginning to surface, will make folks think twice about voting with her on the ticket with McCain. I know my vote goes to Obama and Biden.

Sent by LouAnn | 2:28 PM | 9-11-2008

The residents of the state of Alaska pay no State Income Tax, they pay no Sales Tax, and each is handed a check for sharing the wealth each year. How is this possible?
1. There state does not have a large population.
2. They received so many millions of Dollars never return for that Bridge to No Where. Just imagine what your state could do, with a free flowing Bank Account that was never used for the purpose intended. Could you say Alaska is being financed by the rest of us? Could you say votes are being bought?

NPR please report on the actual amount they got and never returned, having problems locating the exact amount.

Sent by DB Workman Sr. | 2:50 PM | 9-11-2008

Isn't a half truth, a half lie? I find it disturbing that someone who calls themselves a Christian willingly distorts the truth. It's not very Christ like to me.
I wish someone would report more extensively on Palin and her Seventh Day Adventist beliefs. Chritianity has many forms. Seventh Day Adventists are definetly not mainstream Christians. What has happend to the separation between church and state in this country? I am not a Christian.

Sent by Maureen Blackmore | 3:18 PM | 9-11-2008

It's true that when Palin uses her "thanks, but no thanks" line she omits certain information -- her initial support for the project, the fact that Congress revoked the earmark, and the fact that Bridge had become an embarrassment by the time Palin nixed it. But the fact remains that nothing Congress did would have prevented Alaska from using federal money to build the bridge. It was Palin who stopped this from happening.

Her statement is not inaccurate, and certainly is not a lie. By contrast, NPR has claimed that Congress killed the Bridge to Nowhere. As noted, that claim is inaccurate.

NPR's treatment of Palin is another example of its liberal, anti-Republican bias. Though I doubt we'll ever see it, we can wish for the day when a McCain-Palin administration says "thanks, but not thanks" to Congress for appropriating money to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting which helps fund NPR.

Sent by Larry | 3:20 PM | 9-11-2008

Here's more fact checking.

Sent by Rae Ann Engdahl | 3:52 PM | 9-11-2008

Time to call in the Truth Squad about this story. lol

Sent by Hottopics | 4:47 PM | 9-11-2008

Funny thing is, that even though we have her on VIDEO contradicting herself, the Red Meat eating fan base still won't believe it... actually they will just refuse to listen as always.

Sent by Please Sir... May I have some more RED MEAT? | 5:07 PM | 9-11-2008

how come the main news wire sevices never say these things, especially FOX? Is our system really that corrupt? Is the media in with the big world trade order and free masons? Is it time for Anarchy ? if we can not trust our own government any longer its time for a throw down with Bobby Flay. But i am not talking about food here.

Sent by Earl Sage | 5:23 PM | 9-11-2008

Sarah Palin has written about her position on earmarks in her own words many months ago.
http://newsminer.com/news/2008/aug/29/palin-setting-earmarks-opinion-straight/

It very clearly states her change on this position. As democrats, I would really get out of running Sarah Palin's earmark record against Obama. It is a silly argument, especially since Obama scored a 10 on earmarks, Biden scored 0 and John McCain scored 100. It is not an argument democrats will win in the end and bring attention to it is a big mistake.

Also, as far as Sarah Palin "killing polar bears" -- she also writes another op-ed in her own words here. Just as an FYI.

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/opinion/346563_bears09.html

Sent by Terry Wilcox | 8:37 PM | 9-11-2008

It's not correct to claim that Obama and Biden both supported the funds for that bridge. The final bill Congress voted on had the language directing the funds to be spent on the bridge removed. Moreover, at no point did Obama or Biden ask that the bridge be kept alive.

They did vote on the omnibus transportation bill that had earmark money being sent to Alaska. That's fair. But that bill had a lot of things in it. McCain did not vote on the bill at all, so he's not exactly scot-free here.

Sent by Jake | 1:43 PM | 9-12-2008

After listening to both John McCain and Barack Obama Thursday September 11, 2008 on the subject of security for the United States
I noticed that they both talked about American citizens volunteering for community service, but the big difference between Obama andMcCain was that Obama wanted to set up federal government programs, and McCain wanted people to volunteer own their own.This reminded me of the many things that Barack Obama would mandate and how dictatorial he is.

Does anyone in their right mind honestly think that a politician can have 95% of the people pay no taxes and at the same time create many new government programs,like for example a government health program that will cost trillions of dollars and give people a much poorer form of medicine.
When it becomes expedient to lie and tell grand exaggerations in order to get elected, then you have a delusional person that thinks that if you tell a lie often enough it will become the truth!

The responsibility of our economy does not lie entirely with the President. All of the budget requests for our country comes from Congress, a Congress (both Republicans and Democrats), that feels free to insert huge amounts of pork in the form of earmarks that pick the pockets of American Citizens.

I would encourage all people that are interested in finding the truth to check the records of Senators Obama, Biden, and McCain and see which ones are telling the truth about sending our economy out of orbit!!!

An interesting fact that I discovered is that (factcheck.org) is owned by the Annenberg Foudation, the very same Annenberg Foundation that Barack Obama served on the staff. So much for getting the complete truth!!!

Sent by Ronald W. Sprague | 4:59 PM | 9-12-2008

Earmarks are a small and often useful part of the budget.

They become bad when they are used to pay off campaign contributors.

What is needed is more scrutiny of the process.

Sent by Ruth Laughlin | 3:07 PM | 9-13-2008

I realize this is late but it seems that this topic is still being talked about. I wanted to know the facts so I read several articles, even the one on weekly standard.If you just get the dispassionate facts they appear to be these. She stated her support for the bridge during a campaign before she got elected. After she was elected she asked her advisors for options regarding the bridge and the federal money for it. It was her decision in the end to continue the bridge project or to re-direct those funds to other projects ( Alaska still could have used the remaining federal funds to at least start the bridge project). She chose not to continue the bridge. So I guess she should get some credit for this. Did she and McCain over hype it -absolutely yes.However, on this particular issue I think she has to get a pass.

Sent by r. Spencer | 7:07 PM | 9-18-2008

Support comes from: