ANCHORAGE, Alaska — During the presidential debate last night in Hempstead, N.Y., Sen. John McCain segued into explaining why Gov. Sarah Palin would make a better president than Sen. Joe Biden, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, by saying: “she’s a role model to women.”
McCain then sought to define Palin by her reformer bona-fides, including the time she unseated the incumbent Republican governor and when she resigned from a state energy board over her disgust with a member’s ethical lapses.
But then McCain headed into muddy territory, where he made a number of errors on Alaska and Palin’s overall record. I’ll break down the paragraph in question line-by-line.
She’s given money back to the taxpayers.
Alaska doesn’t tend to talk about the public as “taxpayers.” The reason is that there is no state income tax or property tax here. Alaska is run by taxing the companies that tap the state’s rich natural resources, mainly oil companies. To say she gave back “taxpayer” money isn’t entirely accurate. Alaskans received a $1,200 check this year to offset the high cost of energy, which coincided with huge state revenues because of high oil prices. This check was in addition to $2,000 that every Alaskan received this year as part of the state’s Permanent Fund Dividend program that shares oil profits with residents.
She’s cut the size of government.
Palin actually increased government spending in Alaska by about 28 percent this year, according to The Associated Press. Her $11-billion budget spends about $16,000 per person in the state.
She negotiated with the oil companies and faced them down, a $40 billion pipeline of natural gas that’s going to relieve the energy needs of the United — of what they call the lower 48.
It’s true that Palin has agreed to subsidize the company, TransCanada, with a half-billion dollars in public money to explore a possible natural gas pipeline. But that doesn’t mean any dirt will be turned for years – if at all.
McCain wrapped up talking about Palin by noting that she understands the challenges of families with children with special needs, including autism. This was a bit of a surprise, as the Palins have a 5-month-old baby boy, Trig, with Down syndrome. The Anchorage Daily News reports that she does have a nephew with autism, which she noted during her 2006 gubernatorial campaign.
One thing McCain left out of his points on Palin was the story that’s put her in the headlines up here lately — Troopergate.
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