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Moar politics
cap, captain miss america
No, I am not mentioning pregnancy at all in this post. Except for here.

This was inspired in part by a conversation I had earlier with rainy_day in which she said that her boyfriend and father were both leaning toward voting for McCain because Obama's policy is "too big government."

Now, for those of you who are at all educated on the platforms of the two candidates, that might sound horribly incongruous. Because it is.

Also, for those of you who aren't familiar with either candidate's policies, this is a great time to look at them. You can read them on their websites-- and I will be the first to say that McCain really has some excellent policies on his platform-- including the workplace flexibility plan outlined here. As someone who has great workplace flexibility, it's something I would like to see more employers provide because it does make a difference financially. But on the other hand, his platform includes some inexplicable points such as a dependence on victory in Iraq to balance the budget, which is vastly incongruous with his own statement that he expects to keep troops in Iraq. You can't balance the budget with money you've already said you expect to spend. But I encourage you all to go read them for yourselves. I think one of the nice things about reading candidates' actual policies instead of what you hear them say in speeches is that you might find positives in policies from candidates you didn't think you'd like, and that can make you feel more confident overall that the world isn't going to go to shit if they get elected.

But let's move on to Sarah Palin, since like most of you, I didn't know much about her, and I've been digging around to find out about her fiscal policitesrainy_day's father and boyfriend apparently think that Governor Palin's addition to this ticket helps McCain's fiscally conservative appearance-- one I wasn't even aware he had. I think a lot of people are just assuming that McCain is a more fiscally conservative candidate because the Republicans are historically fiscally conservative. If you look at his policies next to Obama's, both of them are really trying to cut back budget numbers in certain areas and want to spend on projects in other areas-- they just disagree on what should be cut and what requires more spending, but they're both very solidly in favor of cutting expenditures. It just comes down to which of them you really believe is going to do it, and which programs you'd rather see dismantled or beefed up. Palin, on the other hand, is definitely not a fiscal conservative. Let's look at the numbers.

Alaska, her home state, has the fourth highest median income per family in the nation, and the eleventh highest mean income per capita in the nation. Yet their state government receives the most government aid per capita of any state in the nation/. There's something incongruous right there-- why does a state that has average incomes above those of the majority of states in the Union need to be getting federal aid? (Wikipedia statistics)

Because Alaska also has the highest state spending per capita of any state in the Union-- topping the average by state by almost three times as much as you can see in the source materials linked.

Does that sound like the opposite of 'big government' to you?

Okay, okay, you say, but those numbers are all from before Palin's time-- it always takes a few years for new numbers to get to the web, right? Sure. The numbers in 2007, her first term in office, for federal aid? Still put Alaska at the top of the list.

But maybe it takes time to change those things. Sure.

So let's talk about this. That Alaskan budget, the one that's getting more Federal aid per capita than any other state budget in the Union? If you support small government with conservative spending, you'll be happy to know that Palin approved a plan to earmark a quarter billion dollars of her state's money to grant a subsidy to a Canadian company NYTimes article. And demanded the Federal government match that, and give another quarter of a billion dollars to this Canadian company. Yes, a Canadian company, not an American company. As much as I love Canada, that does not show a policy of promoting the American jobs we so badly need, or putting our money back into our own economy. She wanted to send half a billion dollars of American money that could have gone to an American business to Canada.

And you've heard about the infamous "Bridge to Nowhere" project that no one had honestly heard of before last week and most people outside of Alaska still probably don't know about except that Sarah Palin used it as her biggest example of how she has fought for fiscal reform.

If you don't know what the Bridge to Nowhere is, it was basically a project to build a bridge to make an airport more accessible. There are arguments that the airport in question doesn't get enough passengers to make this financially viable, but I'm not getting into arguments over the feasibility of a bridge in a place I know nothing about. What I can tell you about is this:

Sarah Palin didn't fight the building of the bridge until after the Federal Government refused to give her the funds she requested. Then, only when the State of Alaska would have had to spend more of their own money on it, did she call to dismantle the project.

Before the Federal Government didn't fork up the money:

Asked "would you continue state funding for the proposed Knik Arm and Gravina Island bridges?" she replied: "Yes. I would like to see Alaska's infrastructure projects built sooner rather than later. The window is now - while our congressional delegation is in a strong position to assist."

Then, when it turned out Alaska was going to have to spend their own money, she said,

"Despite the work of our congressional delegation, we are about $329 million short of full funding for the bridge project, and it's clear that Congress has little interest in spending any more money on a bridge between Ketchikan and Gravina Island."


This is in stark contrast to her insistence that she told Congress "Thanks, but no thanks. If we want a bridge, we'll use our own money." Basically, she didn't get what she wanted from Congress, so she took her toys and went home. And I don't really blame her for not wanting to spend her state budget on it-- but I don't think it's right to be pretending differently now.

So, yes, there's my take on Sarah Palin's fiscal policies now that I've gotten the chance to read up on what she's done as Governor. I don't necessarily think it's all bad, but I think it contrasts too much with what she claims to be as a politician, and what John McCain claims she is.

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Interesting article here regarding Palin's obtaining earmarks for the town she was mayor of.

Show them that - see what they think of her as a reformer. Maybe she is now but she wasn't two years ago, which is very flip-floppy.

I think, especially in tandem with her work with the Alaskan Secessionists, she looks like someone who really works hard to put money into the pockets of her own people-- locally when she was mayer, and on a statewide level when she was governor. She puts her town before her state, and her state before her country.

Which isn't a bad stance for a local politician. I mean, it's your job to get the best you can possibly get for your constituents. I just wonder, especially given that little blurb about what being the VP meant and whether it would be good for Alaska, if she's going to be willing to represent the whole country, and not just her state and town.

I don't ever actually recall praising Palin's fiscal conservatism. Unless Brenna has another boyfriend I am unaware of, I think there's been some confusion.

To be perfectly honest, the fiscal policy of the veep are almost always completely insignificant. The one way in which hers could come into play is if the Republicans bring the Senate to the point where tiebreakers come into play, as in earlier Bush years. All the same, her position on the Bridge to Nowhere can be pretty easily attributed to what I call the Jefferson effect. Being the Chief Executive provides insight that everyone who is not the Chief Executive simply doesn't have, and can often change opinions on issues.

As for federal aid to Alaska, that's a long-standing issue having to deal with the fact that we need Alaska's resources, and people had to (and still have to, I imagine) be given incentives to live there, given environmental and geographical conditions. Alaska has no income tax, no sales tax, and, in some boroughs, no property tax. Since there has to be some state spending, and the state is not taxing it's citizenry on anything near the scale as the rest of the country, that money comes from the federal government. It's not as if Palin could decide one day to dramatically decrease federal funding to Alaska, because it would mean drastically increasing taxes. It is simply unfair to criticize her based on the amount of funding Alaska receives, due to Alaska's unique situation.

The state spending information linked above reveals that all of the top-spenders are states with low population. Add in the exponentially higher cost of infrastructure development in Alaska, and the fact that the state population is under 700,000, and the high per-capita numbers start to make more sense.

It is true that she is proposing a large earmark for a Canadian company to build a "long-sought pipeline" to bring natural gas from Alaska to the United States. This is probably due to the fact that the pipeline is going to be utilized in conjunction with existing pipelines inside Canada, given that any land-based pipeline from Alaska to the continental U.S. exists mostly inside Canada. The other options listed in the linked article were British Petroleum, which hits the same pitfall, and ConocoPhillips, which is currently selling off gas stations to stave off financial problems. With the pipeline providing up to 7% of the natural gas stateside, it stands to increase expansion of jobs related to the industry in the continental U.S.

All the same, on a relative scale, McCain/Palin is a great deal more Federalist in nature than Obama/Biden. Any time one candidate is talking about universal healthcare and the other isn't, the latter is the fiscal conservative. That said, McCain is not the end-all, be-all of small government. America's current political landscape is prohibitive to the Federal ideal, so relativity is all we have. My reasons for choosing McCain/Palin have more to do with other issues not discussed here, but I will still take them, hands down, on the issue of expansion of federal spending, based on what I've seen, so far.

Brenna said to me that the choice of Palin was what swayed you more toward that ticket, and that it was because Obama was too big government. That's what I was responding to.

I am concerned about the VP's policies in this case for two reasons:

One, I feel they are being deliberately mislabeled by the Presidential nominee.
Two, she stands a far better chance of becoming President mid-term than most Vice Presidential nominees do.

I have no issue with her changing her mind if that's what happened. I *do* have an issue with the fact that she's currently misrepresenting that change of mind in public, and saying that she fought against something that she was in support of until the Federal government voted against it. She didn't fight against this bill until the bill proved unpopular.

I think your viewpoints on the subject are interesting and very informative, but also don't really rebut the point that she's just plain not the low-spending, anti-big-government champion McCain is making her out to be. The Alaskan people may not pay taxes, but she still spends up the wazoo-- she just does it with money that's given to her, rather than revenue she has to raise on her own. Which to me is more like a teenager with an allowance than an adult with a job. It's especially distressing when you look at the relative wealth of the Alaskan state versus some of the incredibly impoverished states in the Union that receive less than half the federal aid her state receives, have far fewer jobs available, and have crumbling infrastructure that is in far worse need of assistance-- where people who make less than the average Alaskan are already paying far many more taxes. That's not okay to me, and if that's the kind of economy she's used to managing, that's not okay with me, either. And it sure as hell doesn't seem very Federalist.

Personally, if one candidate wants to spend billions of dollars on keeping impoverished children healthy, and one wants to spend billions of dollars on getting those impoverished children killed when they reach the age of majority, I'm far more in favor of the keeping the kids alive any day. That, and I really don't want anyone who wants to ban IUDs and hormonal birth control or require that public schools teach Creationism anywhere that close to the White House.

May I ask which issues are the ones informing your voting?

The appointment of Palin was what swayed my dad, not the boyo! sorry for confusion there!

(no subject) (Anonymous) Expand
She was also arrested for drunk driving. Hows THAT for a VP?!

If McCain is elected and croaks, I think my family is moving to Canada.

Well, our current President has had problems with cocaine addiction. And a lot of people get arrested for drunk driving-- it shows bad personal judgment, yes, but doesn't necessarily mean anything about someone's political leanings or policies.

I'm also a big proponent of the idea that if you disagree, it's important to stand up for yourself, not to run away. A lot of people every major election say they'll move to Canada or Europe if the opposing side wins, but if the people who believe in a certain way of life all leave, then we're letting the people who disagree with us win. If McCain is elected, I'll probably end up giving more of my service time to abortion rights groups and educational rights groups.

I think Palin is good for her state as governor and was good for her town... but I think she will be disastrous on a national level, especially should (god forbid) something happen to McCain. Trying to apply her policies and opinions on a national level is... a very frightening prospect.

Interestingly, it's looking like Palin was not very thoroughly vetted by the McCain campaign.

Tea, I decided to sleep on this entry and decide if I was still unhappy with it, but I am and figured I should tell you. I'm frustrated that you posted this at all--I know I've mentioned my distaste for talking politics on livejournal, and you posting this has put me in a position where I feel like I have to. I also don't really appreciate your implication that my dad/boyfriend know nothing about politics just because of the second-hand information about their political beliefs that I casually mentioned to you in an AIM conversation. And I mean this part of the entry -

Now, for those of you who are at all educated on the platforms of the two candidates, that might sound horribly incongruous. Because it is.

At all educated? Phil for one studied politics in school and has a degree in international relations, he knows way more about politics than I do. My comments to you in AIM about my impression of his political beliefs were just that... offhanded comments not meant to be analyzed and picked apart in public. I directed him to this entry because I felt he deserved a chance to defend himself, but I shouldn't have needed to.

I know that you meant to be helpful with this post and educate me or them or whatever, but there's a reason I only talk about politics privately with people I trust to be able to have intelligent discourse. In the future, I would really appreciate not being a part of your political statements on livejournal.

Edited at 2008-09-02 02:47 pm (UTC)

I'm sorry. You had to leave, and I spent four hours posting something for you. The reason Phil and your dad are mentioned are because I'm not going to be one of those douchebags who makes nebulous comments that are obviously critical of someone without actually saying so so that I can hide behind the whole "no, I was just talking in GENERAL" statement that so many people try to hide behind. I'm not demanding that you personally talk politics on my livejournal. But I did a lot of work to get this information together, and it's silly not to share it.

I'm sorry if I insulted you, but I don't think it's fair for you to be angry at me because you made what appears to be a mis-statement over aim and I reacted. Everybody mis-speaks, and if you misrepresented people's opinions, I don't really understand how you expect me to know that these weren't their actual opinions. And I honestly still can't tell what the issue is-- if it's misrepresentation and I got their opinions wrong, then that's one thing, but Phil is defending the position that you say I got wrong.

Edited at 2008-09-02 04:49 pm (UTC)

I was merely pointing out that your characterization of Palin's fiscal policy, as seen through some of your source material, perhaps fails to acknowledge circumstances that, in my mind, mitigate some of the claims regarding Palin's fiscal conservatism or lack thereof. You, judging by your response, disagree.

I didn't ever say what you claimed I had said. That doesn't mean that your characterization of her as completely the opposite is any more valid. Is she spinning the Bridge to Nowhere? Absolutely. I think, however, that a more appropriate criticism of her financial policy is that she rolled out what is essentially Barack Obama's windfall tax plan in Alaska, with apparently detrimental results.

You were right when you said that I don't rebut that she's the fiscal conservative McCain claims she is. This stems largely from the fact that I am not sure that she is. That worries me a little, but not enough to change my vote. My criticisms of your arguments were simply that. I think that your premises need some revision, but that there is real substance to what you're saying.

Again, I'm sorry for causing offense, but understand that being a young conservative in this country is like painting a giant target on your back. If I get lumped in with the Mike Huckabees of the world one more time, I am simply going to snap. The truth of the matter, in my view, is that, once again, we have two candidates who are both rife with policy problems, in my view.

In answer to your question, my presidential voting decision stems largely from what was meant to be one of the office's chief responsibilities, foreign policy. It's the subject I had a passion for throughout school, and still is probably the factor that weighs most heavily in my decision. This year, it's a bit more complicated, since the next President might choose 3 new Supreme Court justices, but I don't think either party is realistically going to allow a severe shift in the balance of the Court. There's more, but I really should be getting ready for work, and, as stated above, I'm not terribly interested in going into this kind of discussion in public with someone until I've at least talked to them privately enough to understand their position more thoroughly to avoid just the kind of misunderstandings we seem to have run aground of.

I appreciate that you were writing that for me--when you said you were writing about Palin, I was excited because I was interested in what you thought and figured I might learn something. I didn't make anything more than vague references to the political views of the people in my family because honestly, we were just having a passing conversation before my shift started and I didn't realize you were looking for serious political debate, or even planning to address my dad/boyfriend in your entry... because really, you could have very easily shared this without suggesting that the people you were addressing it to were ignorant of their own party politics.

I'm not angry with you, just frustrated that a private conversation got turned into something public that I wasn't prepared for.

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