Senator Jim DeMint on Gov. Palin’s Bridge to Nowhere record vs. Obama’s

Senator Obama and his campaign’s spokesman and many surrogates have continued to make misleading – and in some cases fabricated – claims about Gov. Sarah Palin’s record on the Bridge to Nowhere. Using the “for it before she was against it” theme that ended up hurting Sen. Kerry in the 2004 elections, they say she was for it before it was popular to be against it. Not only is this a distortion of her position, but as McCain supporter and staunch conservative Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) writes in the WSJ today, this is a “bridge” that Obama and Biden really should know better than to try and cross:

My Senate colleague Barack Obama is now attacking Gov. Sarah Palin over earmarks. Having worked with both John McCain and Mr. Obama on earmarks, and as a recovering earmarker myself, I can tell you that Mrs. Palin’s leadership and record of reform stands well above that of Mr. Obama.

Let’s compare.

Mrs. Palin used her veto pen to slash more local projects than any other governor in the state’s history. She cut nearly 10% of Alaska’s budget this year, saving state residents $268 million. This included vetoing a $30,000 van for Campfire USA and $200,000 for a tennis court irrigation system. She succinctly justified these cuts by saying they were “not a state responsibility.”

Meanwhile in Washington, Mr. Obama voted for numerous wasteful earmarks last year, including: $12 million for bicycle paths, $450,000 for the International Peace Museum, $500,000 for a baseball stadium and $392,000 for a visitor’s center in Louisiana.

Mrs. Palin cut Alaska’s federal earmark requests in half last year, one of the strongest moves against earmarks by any governor. It took real leadership to buck Alaska’s decades-long earmark addiction.

Mr. Obama delivered over $100 million in earmarks to Illinois last year and has requested nearly a billion dollars in pet projects since 2005. His running mate, Joe Biden, is still indulging in earmarks, securing over $90 million worth this year.

Mrs. Palin also killed the infamous Bridge to Nowhere in her own state. Yes, she once supported the project: But after witnessing the problems created by earmarks for her state and for the nation’s budget, she did what others like me have done: She changed her position and saved taxpayers millions. Even the Alaska Democratic Party credits her with killing the bridge.

When the Senate had its chance to stop the Bridge to Nowhere and transfer the money to Katrina rebuilding, Messrs. Obama and Biden voted for the $223 million earmark, siding with the old boys’ club in the Senate. And to date, they still have not publicly renounced their support for the infamous earmark.

Mrs. Palin has proven courageous by taking on big spenders in her own party. In March of this year, the Anchorage Daily News reported that, “Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens is aggravated about what he sees as Gov. Sarah Palin’s antagonism toward the earmarks he uses to steer federal money to the state.”

Mr. Obama had a chance to take on his party when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid offered a sham ethics bill, which was widely criticized by watchdog groups such as Citizens Against Government Waste for shielding earmarks from pubic scrutiny. But instead of standing with taxpayers, Mr. Obama voted for the bill. Today, he claims he helped write the bill that failed to clean up Washington.

Jim Geraghty has more:

When several liberal bloggers all choose to spotlight one particular news report by an Alaska CBS affiliate, one begins to wonder if we’re seeing a coordinated message. Adding to Dean’s observation, it sure is strange the way the liberal blogs all spotlight the same obscure story at the same time, huh?

The Alaskan CBS affiliate report begins with an Alaska Democratic state representative disapproving of Palin’s use of the term, “Bridge to Nowhere.” Stunning!

The reporter says, “Congress killed off the earmark before Palin had the chance to say ‘no thanks.'”

Eh, not quite. Congress removed the requirement that the money be spent on the Bridge, leaving it to the state’s discretion. It was Palin who actually decided no bridge would be built with that money, and that instead the money would go to other projects.

U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens and Rep. Don Young, both Republicans, championed the project through Congress two years ago, securing more than $200 million for the bridge between Revillagigedo and Gravina islands.

Under mounting political pressure over pork projects, Congress stripped the earmark — or stipulation — that the money be used for the airport, but still sent the money to the state for any use it deemed appropriate.

The CBS affiliate story mentions that under Palin, Alaska applied for nearly $200 million in earmarks in Fiscal 2009. That sounds terrible, until you hear that they applied for about $400 million the year before. Meanwhile Obama delivered, not requested, $100 million last year, and since joining the Senate has requested about a billion dollars worth of earmarks for his state.

It’s hard to believe that with a record like that, that Senator Obama would really “go there” on criticizing Gov. Palin’s reversal on the Bridge to Nowhere. If he (and his running mate) want to have a debate about earmarks and pork barrel spending, I have no doubt that the McCain-Palin campaign will welcome it. Then, the real anti-earmark, real anti-wasteful spending, real reform-minded candidates will truly shine.

I really don’t get liberals on the issue of Gov. Palin’s fiscal conservatism. One minute they make false claims about her “slashing” funding for teen moms and special needs education, and the next they’re trying to make her out to be a big spender. I think they must be getting their talking points mixed up.

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