Monday, September 15, 2008

The Wall Street Journal calls out Palin on earmarks...kind of

The WSJ is revisiting the subject of Sarah Palin's earmarks today.

Background: Last week, Daily Kos blogger Paul Anderson called out the WSJ for disappearing some crucial context from a report on Sarah Palin's earmark requests. Originally, the article by Elizabeth Holmes and Laura Meckler ended thus:
At a rally today, Sen. McCain again asserted that Sen. Obama has requested nearly a billion in earmarks. In fact, the Illinois senator requested $311 million last year, according to the Associated Press, and none this year. In comparison, Gov. Palin has requested $750 million in her two years as governor -- which the AP says is the largest per-capita request in the nation.
Hours later, the closer had morphed to this:
"The only people 'lying' about spending are the Obama campaign. The only explanation for their hysterical attacks is that they're afraid that when John McCain and Sarah Palin are in the White House, Barack Obama's nearly $1 billion in earmark spending will stop dead in its tracks," Mr. Rogers said.
The WSJ claimed that the initial stat comparison was incomplete and misleading; late in the day they posted this:

Gov. Sarah Palin has requested $453 million in federal earmarks in her two years in office, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense. That total doesn't include any requests made by the Alaska Railroad or the University of Alaska. Sen. Barack Obama has requested $860 million in earmarks during his four years in office, excluding $78 million for projects that were of national interest and requested by many lawmakers, according to the group. He requested no earmarks for fiscal year 2009.
As Paul pointed out, the do-over left out the most important part - the closing clause: which the AP says is the largest per-capita request in the nation.

Today, Meckler (with colleague John R. Wilke) is back with a followup detailing Palin's earmark requests. It's not bad; it highlights McCain's lies, e.g. his claim on The View that Palin never sought earmarks as governor, and his lame responses to being called out. It also gets across the bogus nature of the McCain-Palin earmark smears on Obama:
On the campaign trail, Gov. Palin has repeatedly attacked Sen. Obama on earmarks. "Our opponent has requested nearly one billion dollars in earmarks in three years. That's about a million for every working day," she said at a rally in Albuquerque, N.M.

Sen. Barack Obama requested a total of $860 million in earmarks in his Senate years, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense. That doesn't include $78 million for projects that were national in scope and had been requested by many lawmakers. Sen. Obama halted all earmark requests in fiscal 2009.

It is difficult to compare Sen. Obama's earmark record with Gov. Palin's -- their states differ in size, for instance, and the two candidates play different roles in the process. But using the same calculation that the McCain campaign uses, the total amount of earmarked dollars divided by the number of working days while each held office (assuming a five-day workweek, every week, for both), Gov. Palin sought $980,000 per workday, compared with roughly $893,000 for Sen. Obama.
Still MIA, though: the per capita comparison. Alaska has 600,000 people, Illinois 13 million. Not to mentionthat Alaska is flush with petrodollars. -- which Meckler and Wilke do point out.

Of course the whole conversation is ridiculous; demonizing earmarks is McCain's smokescreen for radically cutting taxes without substantively cutting spending. What governor or Senator worth her salt wouldn't get all the appropriate appropriations she could for her state?

I'd like to hear Obama say clearly: McCain obsesses about earmarks because he has no clue how he'll cut spending to offset the $1.5 trillion in new tax cuts for the wealthy he's proposing. More distractions, more phony attacks.

1 comment:

  1. I'm from Arizona and your statement that McCain's demonizing of earmarks is a smokescreen rings false to me. He's been against earmarks for as long as I can remember. So have a number of other Arizona lawmakers. Agree or disagree with the use of earmarks, but personally I believe McCain's stance on it is sincere.
    The issue is that Palin does believe in the use of earmarks, but now that she's running with McCain, she's pretending not to, and they're both lying about her past actions.
    I actually think it's the Dems who are making the mistake of demonizing Palin for her past use of earmarks, as if the earmarks themselves are the issue. They're not. It's her lying about it that is the issue.