On the CBS Evening News, Bob Schieffer asserted that Gov. Sarah Palin is "[s]omeone, you know, who is against earmarks, who is against that bridge to nowhere." But Palin's administration has said it requested federal earmarks in 2008, and she reportedly initially supported the so-called "bridge to nowhere" project.
On the August 29 broadcast of the CBS Evening News, Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer asserted that Sen. John McCain's running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, is "[s]omeone, you know, who is against earmarks, who is against that bridge to nowhere." But as Media Matters for America previously noted, Palin's administration has said it requested federal earmarks in 2008, and she reportedly initially supported the so-called "bridge to nowhere" project.
While Palin canceled state funding for the project for a proposed bridge between Ketchikan, Alaska, and Gravina Island in September 2007, Palin reportedly supported it during her 2006 gubernatorial campaign and suggested that Alaska's congressional delegation should continue to try to procure funding -- which was authorized by the federal government in 2005, but never appropriated -- for the project.
Further, a March 18 Juneau Empire op-ed by John Katz, Alaska's director of state-federal relations and special counsel to Palin, wrote that in 2008, the Palin administration "request[ed] 31 earmarks, down from 54 last year."
From Katz's op-ed, which was highlighted by Bradford Plumer in an August 29 post on The New Republic's blog The Plank:
In my opinion, earmarks are not bad in themselves. In fact, they represent a legitimate exercise of Congress' constitutional power to amend the budget proposed by the president.
Recognizing there have been instances of earmark abuse, Congress has instituted reforms to bring greater transparency and accountability to the process. These include the identification of each earmark's sponsor and a prohibition against earmarks inserted into the budget without public discussion.
Recently, members of the Alaska congressional delegation announced they would post on their Web sites the earmark requests it receives. Gov. Sarah Palin has applauded this decision.
Earlier this year, President Bush and the congressional leadership announced that the total number and dollar amount of earmarks must be reduced significantly.
The Palin administration has responded to this message by requesting 31 earmarks, down from 54 last year. Of these, 27 involve continuing or previous appropriations and four are new. The total dollar amount of these requests has been reduced from about $550 million in the previous year to just less than $200 million.
Further, the governor has insisted that each Alaska request must demonstrate an important federal purpose and strong public support.
We also have heard that, wherever possible, a state or local match should be provided. The state's budget requests incorporate this principle.
So, it is important to note there is no longer a "free lunch" at the federal level. Most federal requests have state or local budget consequences as well.
The governor is very much aware of the importance of the federal budget to virtually every Alaskan. In responding to the new realities, we are not abandoning earmarks altogether but are seeking to constrain and document them in the ways discussed here.
From the August 29 edition of the CBS Evening News:
KATIE COURIC (anchor): Bob Schieffer is our CBS News chief Washington correspondent and anchor of Face the Nation. Bob, why do you think the McCain campaign went this way?
SCHIEFFER: This was John McCain the old fighter pilot, putting it all out on the line there, taking the risk, out of the blue. This was John McCain who made this decision. He really was attracted to her life story. He also thinks, and I think -- his close friends I talked to today say he sees some of himself in her. A maverick, somebody who's willing to take on her own party, clean up corruption --
COURIC: But with conservative principles.
SCHIEFFER: Yeah, with conservative principles. Someone, you know, who is against earmarks, who is against that bridge to nowhere. I think John McCain saw John McCain Jr. here in a funny kind of way, and I think that's why he did this. But I got to tell you, Katie, a lot of his friends are really worried about this. As to whether this is going to knock down the best argument they have --
COURIC: Which is experience.
SCHIEFFER: -- against Barack Obama, because the bar that he set for Barack Obama, she does not come up to it.