Important update below!

I wanted to respond to something I saw on Fox News on Saturday, and then read on Sunday regarding the stimulus porkulus plan being pushed through Congress.  The AP reported (via Fox News) about how Republican Governors were responding to the stimulus porkulus bill.

The 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, planned to meet in Washington this weekend with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and other senators to press for her state’s share of the package.

Fox News made it sound like she was stumping for this bill as well.  I was a little disconcerted… my Caffeinated Conservative of 2008 pushing for this?  One of the three Governors I thought wasn’t at the trough?  I was distraught (ok, not really), but I thought something was fishy about the story.  Even Hot Air jumped on the bandwagon of criticism without knowing all of the facts.

I feel compelled to set the record straight, because I think this is being distorted.  What was she really doing in Washington?  Some background.

She has been criticized for not requesting more funds from this stimulus porkulus package.  She had said why she was going to Washington, D.C. earlier.

“Yeah, I’m going to meet with those who are making decisions for Alaska in the stimulus package, including senators Feinstein and (I’ll) be meeting with Mitch McConnell and others, having dinner with them and meeting with John Katz in our D.C. office on what it is that we can support in the stimulus package.

“Advocating tough too for an exemption that Alaska needs in terms of timelines for some of these shovel ready projects. Congress is saying the projects involved in the infrastructure aspect of the stimulus package have to be shovel ready, have to get them out the door, whether it be 90 days or 120 days. Well, we’re Alaska and we need an exemption there so that we’re not left out in the cold in terms of some of the projects that will take a northern climate a longer period of time to make sure that we have our projects ready to go.”

So it wasn’t to encourage or lobby for the bill (there is only one GOP Governor doing that), rather to see what she could, on behalf of Alaska, support and to make sure that their current infrastructure projects could be included.  In a press release before heading to Washington she expressed her concern and highlighted what they would be requesting.

“As I wrote to our congressional delegation on January 7, our administration recognizes that President-elect Obama and the congressional leadership of both parties favor the use of formulas to ensure fairness among the states and to avoid the earmark abuses of the past,” Gov. Palin said. “We also have to be mindful about the effect of the stimulus package on the national debt and the future economic health of the country. We won’t achieve long-term stability if we continue borrowing massive sums from foreign countries and remain dependent on foreign sources of oil and gas.”

The governor has recommended five specific projects for the stimulus package, all of them in accordance with previous guidelines requiring that any individual spending requests must be in the national interest. Those projects are infrastructure upgrades to accommodate the natural gas pipeline, which will bring clean fuel to Lower 48 markets, and the Kodiak Launch Facility, which is important for the nation’s defense. While the latest comments in D.C. suggest that no earmarks will be accepted, the governor is hopeful that the extraordinary nature of these national-interest projects will allow their inclusion.

She is taking a pragmatic approach to this bill.  It is going to pass, and she is cautioning Congress about what this spending bill may do to our economy.  Then what she did submit was not pork projects, but actually projects that have been discussed, and ones that would help us nationally in terms of energy independence and national defense.  Not pork.  She is very wary of the pork in this bill.  Upon her return from D.C. she said in an interview with KTUU:

“We have to make sure that the nation’s deficit for this year and our long-term debt is not just growing to create more social programs, and to pay for some programs that states will inherit through a basically unfunded mandate,” Palin said.

She supports investment in infrastructure and wants to see Alaska get its share of those dollars, but wants a cautious eye out for proposed federal programs the state may have to fund on its own in the future.

On Sunday her office also gave a press release outlining her concerns about this stimulus package, I am going to include the whole thing here.

February 1, 2009, Juneau, Alaska – Governor Sarah Palin this weekend met with business, economic and political leaders in the nation’s capital to discuss problems she sees for Alaska with the pending economic stimulus package in Congress.

“Alaska and other states need to be treated fairly,” Governor Palin said. “Much of the stimulus plan we’ve seen focuses on spending for government programs that would be a burden on states to continue funding, and doesn’t focus enough on spending that actually does put people back to work and stimulate the economy. Working with our D.C. staff, I took advantage of the opportunity to speak with Democrats and Republicans to voice my concerns. I appreciate their time and assistance in paying attention to our state.”

Governor Palin discussed troubling elements in the stimulus package including provisions that punish Alaska for forward-funding education, the mass transit funding formula that will limit Alaska opportunities but will pour money into other states, and the “shovel-ready” criteria for projects that northern climates might not be able to accommodate consistently due to the shortened construction season.

The governor continues to express concerns first identified in a Jan. 7 letter to the Alaska congressional delegation about the overall level of spending and the hugely increased deficit our nation is growing. Under the legislation, the U.S. would continue sending money to OPEC nations even as it continues to borrow and miss opportunities to develop domestic supplies of energy.

“Worst of all, the stimulus package rewards states for not planning when it comes to prioritizing for things like education, as Alaska has planned ahead by forward-funding 21 percent of our General Fund dollars for this very important priority,” said Palin. “It appears only those states that did not plan ahead with education will benefit. States like Alaska should not be punished for being responsible; yet that’s what the plan means for Alaska right now.”

The governor has asked the nation’s leaders to look at these issues to ensure fairness in the stimulus package and that the package does not harm the long-term fiscal health of the nation. Contrary to some news reports, she looks forward to continuing to work with Alaska’s congressional delegation to accomplish the state’s goals.

Basically she’s saying this thing is a crap sandwich.  Governor Palin was not in D.C. to lobby for this bill, but to share her concern for the burden that it may place on her state and this nation.  So let’s get the facts straight, she hasn’t chucked her fiscal conservatism.  She wanted to make sure that since this crap sandwich is going to get passed; that this money actually gets spent on infrastructure projects that are needed and job creation.  Not congressional pet pork projects.

Update: Conservatives 4 Palin has a good post that brings further clarity to Palin and her views on the stimulus porkulus plan – separate the infrastructure spending from the pork spending.

2nd Update: Jim Geraghty of NRO’s the Campaign Spot reports in a joint letter that Governor Palin wrote with Alaska Legislative leaders for the Alaska Congressional Delegations says effectively “no.”

“I agree with the decision of Senator Murkowski and Congressman Young to vote NO on the package,” Governor Palin said.

“It’s a given that a stimulus package is needed and will happen,” Palin said.  “With guaranteed spending on the table, I am arguing for needed construction projects and tax breaks that will truly stimulate the economy and create jobs, and against increased federal programs that will become a state’s unfunded mandate to continue funding for generations.”

HT: Josh Painter

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