I may have spoken a little hastily about Sarah Palin killing the Bridge to Nowhere. That’s technically true, but liberals and others are pointing out that there’s more nuance to the situation.
Palin said in her speech today: “And I championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress. In fact, I told Congress — I told Congress, ‘Thanks, but no thanks,’ on that bridge to nowhere. If our state wanted a bridge, I said we’d build it ourselves” (see here).
Wikipedia has the following, with documentation from articles at the time:
“Though she initially expressed support for the Gravina Island Bridge project, once it had become a nationwide symbol of wasteful earmark spending and federal funding was lost, Palin decided against filling the $320 million gap with state money.“
So she technically killed it, but that was after the federal government didn’t provide enough funds. Also, the money was then put for other uses in Alaska.
According to an article that she wrote in March 5, she’s not even against all earmarks. She says that her “administration has recommended funding for specific projects and programs when there is an important federal purpose and strong citizen support.”
But she still acknowledges that Congress and the Bush Administration “have told us that the number of earmarks in the federal budget will be reduced and that there must be a strong federal purpose underlying each request.” Consequently, she states:
“This year, we have requested 31 earmarks, down from 54 in 2007. Of these, 27 involve continuing or previous appropriations and four are new requests. The total dollar amount of these requests has been reduced from approximately $550 million in the previous year to just less than $200 million” (see here).
Also, here are the words of the oracular New York Times, dated January 22, 2008: “Even in Alaska, long dependent on federal largess, officials are trying to wean the state off earmarks. In her State of the State address last week, Gov. Sarah Palin, a Republican, said, ‘We cannot and must not rely so heavily on federal government earmarks’” (see here).
So her speech was correct, in a manner of speaking: she’s trying to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. But she’s not as good as certain Republicans in Arizona, which ranks last in the number of earmarks it receives. USA Today states: “But when it comes to pork-barrel spending, otherwise known as earmarks, the state ranks last. That’s mostly because three of the state’s 10 lawmakers in Washington — McCain and House Republicans Jeff Flake and John Shadegg — refuse to ask for any federal money for local projects. Another Arizona Republican, Sen. Jon Kyl, strictly limits his earmark requests” (see here).
I still love Sarah Palin, especially as I read more about her. But she’s not entirely a Jeff Flake, or a John Shadegg.