There are some folks arguing that Sarah Palin didn’t really stop the Bridge to Nowhere, or that she approved of it until it became unpopular and then she rejected it. Jim DeMint has a nice article in the Wall Street Journal regarding this issue. DeMint, who is probably my favorite Senator, boosts Palin’s fiscal conservative credentials, noting her spending cuts and federalism-based arguments. Regarding the Bridge to Nowhere in particular, DeMint points out that it is true that she changed her mind on this, but she should still get credit because it was her decision to kill it in the end—bills to strip the earmark failed in Congress and until she re-allocated the spending to more important projects, it was still slated to go. Also, it’s a fair argument that Palin supported the bridge before she became Governor and when it was a local issue. Bridges are local affairs and because she wasn’t a member of the local government wanting that bridge, there was no real reason to oppose it. After she became Governor and the cost of the bridge became known, she changed her mind.
Palin also had a supposed gaffe regarding Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, in which she said that they had gotten too expensive for taxpayers. Stephen Spruiell’s response is that this was no gaffe at all because, lo and behold, it’s true! Anybody who wants to call this a mis-statement has to believe that the federal government would not have bailed out Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, and unfortunately, that was politically impossible. Thus, because everybody had expectations that the implicit federal guarantee was really an explicit guarantee (note that these expectatations have been around for a while and are a major part of why Freddie/Fannie assets had a very low risk premium), she’s correct.
Meanwhile, Don Young appears to have won his primary election, at least barring some miracle. There’s a good chance he’ll lose in November, and honestly, I hope he does. He’s emblematic of the corruption, self-dealing, pork-loving nature of Congress. I still believe that Palin and McCain have to name him specifically as why the Republican Party got itself into a huge mess.
Incidentally, there’s a good chance that Young won his primary with the help of his good friend, Ron Paul. Paul apparently thinks that although McCain and Palin aren’t good enough for the top two executive spots, Don Young’s good enough to receive his personal recommendation. The reason for this might be that McCain and Palin would look to limit Paul’s pork-barrel spending. It’s kind of funny how the man who’s supposed to be the Great Libertarian Hope earmarked more than $400 million for FY09. Paul ranked 9th of 32 House members in Texas in terms of how much in earmarks he allocated in FY08, according to the Sunlight Foundation.
Incidentally, it turns out that it’s hardly impossible not to run around handing out earmarks to favored clients. John Boehner, House minority leader and OH-8 representative, had $0 in earmarks last year. And in Arizona, John McCain, Jeff Flake, and John Shadegg each had $0 in earmarks.