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Obama vs. Palin on Earmarks

There are a lot of different numbers being thrown around concerning Sen. Barack Obama’s earmark requests and those of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. So I thought it would be fun to try to sort this out.

At a rally in Ohio, Palin today repeated Sen. John McCain’s frequent claim that Obama has requested nearly $1 billion in earmarks for his home state of Illinois since being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2005 — or “nearly $1 million for every working day” he has been in office. The Republican National Committee helpfully totals all of Obama’s earmark requests, per press releases on Obama’s campaign and Senate Websites, coming up with a figure of $935.7 million on 330 projects. This claim is true.

ABC’s Jake Tapper wrote last week that “[i]n two years as governor, Palin sought 83 federal earmarks at a cost of $453 million, according to the Anchorage Daily News.”

Tapper does not provide a link, but a quick search of the Daily News’ Website turns up this story published yesterday — complete with a handy bar graph — that confirms Tapper’s figures.

If we compare Palin’s earmark requests as governor to Obama’s during the same time period, Palin actually comes out on top as the bigger porkmeister. The Associated Press reports that Obama has not made a single request this year — not surprising, considering he’s running for president and how volatile the issue of earmarks has become — and he made $339.8 million in requests last year.

Of course, Palin made this year’s request for nearly $200 million in earmarks in February — long before she knew she would be on the GOP ticket. But this does seem to indicate that she is not nearly as dedicated an earmark-fighter as the McCain campaign would have us believe.

If we consider the fact that Illinois’ population is nearly 20 times that of Alaska — and Palin requested nine times the national average in per capita earmark funding for her state this year — Palin’s attacks on Obama seem downright silly.

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