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.