The Earmark Kid?
Are the Democrats worried about Miss Sarah?
Democrat Barack Obama criticized Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin on Monday for portraying herself as a crusader against wasteful spending on pet local projects while aggressively pursuing the money for Alaska.Uh, she's the vice presidential candidate, Barack - aren't you supposed to delegate that kind of wet work? Plus, doesn't this line of attack directly conflict with the "inexperience" angle? Obama went on:
"When she was mayor she hired a Washington lobbyist to get earmarks, pork barrel spending. All the things that John McCain says is bad, she lobbied to get, and got a whole lot of it."A whole lot of it? Actually, that sounds pretty impressive. From the Washington Post:
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin employed a lobbying firm to secure almost $27 million in federal earmarks for a town of 6,700 residents while she was its mayor, according to an analysis by an independent government watchdog group. There was $500,000 for a youth shelter, $1.9 million for a transportation hub, $900,000 for sewer repairs, and $15 million for a rail project -- all intended to benefit Palin's town, Wasilla, located about 45 miles north of Anchorage.In other words, Palin wasn't much of an earmark opponent, but she was one helluva mayor! More impressively, she seems to have initiated the practice on her own:
Wasilla had received few if any earmarks before Palin became mayor. She actively sought federal funds -- a campaign that began to pay off only after she hired a lobbyist with close ties to Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), who long controlled federal spending as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.So by painting Palin as a hypocrite, Obama really ends up further burnishing her mythic status as a self-made political dynamo. The "hypocrisy" charges, along with attacks on Palin generally, play well with the left-wing base, for whom hypocrisy is the most foul sin imaginable, but for the rest of the electorate the last thing Obama should want to do is add to their sense of her accomplishments.
That year, a local water and sewer project received $1.5 million, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, which combs federal spending measures to identify projects inserted by congressional members.
In 2001, McCain's list of spending that had been approved without the normal budget scrutiny included a $500,000 earmark for a public transportation project in Wasilla. The Arizona senator targeted $1 million in a 2002 spending bill for an emergency communications center in town -- one that local law enforcement has said is redundant and creates confusion.
McCain also criticized $450,000 set aside for an agricultural processing facility in Wasilla that was requested during Palin's tenure as mayor and cleared Congress soon after she left office in 2002. The funding was provided to help direct locally grown produce to schools, prisons and other government institutions, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan watchdog group.
Wasilla received $11.9 million in earmarks from 2000 to 2003. The results of this spending are very apparent today. (The town also benefited from $15 million in federal funds to promote regional rail transportation.)