Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Palin charts path of least assistance

On April 28, the office of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin addressed the $929 million in economic stimulus funds sent from Washington to the Last Frontier. (It could have been more, but she rejected $28.6 million extra.) She said, "I have been clear and consistent about my concerns with accepting economic stimulus funds as our nation incurs tremendous debt." She detailed those concerns: "(We) must acknowledge that these are one-time, temporary funds, that the federal government is deeply in debt, and that we must borrow money from other countries to fund much of government."
It's easy to paint Palin as a maverick here. After all, you could also characterize a tax rebate as a "one-time, temporary fund," but that probably wouldn't stop Americans from accepting it, and it didn't stop President Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush, from using it. But when federal aid expands from a $300 tax rebate to a $929 million relief package, some folks start complaining. And whether consciously or not, Palin may be appealing to this constituency, which the president of the American Enterprise Institute characterized as
homeowners who didn't walk away from their mortgages, small business owners who don't want corporate welfare and bankers who kept their heads during the frenzy and don't need bailouts. They were the people who were doing the important things right -- and who are now watching elected politicians reward those who did the important things wrong.
Perhaps Palin will become a leader of this movement as she jockeys for position in the 2012 GOP presidential field. But there are complicating factors. While she urged against federal aid, she welcomed aid from a different source -- the Rev. Franklin Graham, son of evangelical pastor Billy Graham. Some might wonder why she considers it acceptable to welcome private assistance but not public aid, given that the former can fluctuate depending upon the economy. And despite Palin's reluctance on aid from DC, all she could do in the end was distance herself from the state legislature ... which ultimately accepted federal funds.

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