If you listen to the media, the left, and the GOP establishment, you’ll hear that Sarah Palin is “unqualified.” Even those who grudgingly admit that she helped the McCain ticket in 2008 by energizing the base will still dismiss her gently by saying that she was not &ldquorepared.” Translation: “Sure, sure, she drew a crowd. She’s Caribou Barbie. The rubes like her, but that doesn’t mean she’s competent.”
Is she “unqualified” or “unprepared”? What is her actual record? The media demanded and got unprecedented access to the emails she wrote as governor. No other national or state politician has been more open and transparent. We can know this woman if we just take the time to investigate.
I did, and I discovered a record of relentless reform and fiscal leadership that goes beyond “drill, baby, drill” and is more complex than selling an expensive state jet.
Today everyone likes to call himself a deficit hawk, but it’s easy to be a budget cutter when you’re broke. Palin was a serious deficit hawk at a time when her state was flush with a massive oil revenue surplus. It takes discipline and strong conservative principles to rein in spending at a time like that. Palin cut spending by nearly 10% during her tenure while reforming government, attracting more energy companies to do business in her state and adding jobs.
In the days of credit downgrades in states across the country and for the country as a whole, Alaska has seen its credit upgraded twice since 2006 due to Palin’s reform of the state employee pensions and Alaska’s oil valuation tax.
While the nominees for both political parties have implementedhealth care mandates on some level, Palin proposed repealing bureaucratic mandates for health care facility development and enacted patient-centered, market-driven health care reforms.
Though she is unabashedly a woman of faith, Palin’s message and governing style garnered her approval ratings as high as 93% in the second least religious state in the country. This was no uneducated, geographically-challenged “Bible Spice.”
By any objective standard, this woman was and is more than qualified to be vice president or president. Her record is arguably better than anyone on the national scene today. The facts bear this out.
I’ve assembled just a brief and partial glimpse of Palin’s record. Much more could be written. Whole films have been made about it (see Steve Bannon’s “The Undefeated&rdquo. I’ve chosen to focus primarily on fiscal and energy issues because that’s what Palin focused on.
After reading the following you should ask yourself a few questions:
Why haven’t we heard about all of this before? Why didn’t Steve Schmidt highlight this record during the 2008 campaign? And why is the GOP establishment attacking this woman instead of praising and emulating her leadership?
Executive Authority and Success
Palin was the first female and youngest governor to be elected in Alaska, which is tied for the second most powerful governorship in the United States, according to Thad Beyle, a political scientist at the University of North Carolina.
Palin's approval rating average from the time of her inauguration until John McCain selected her as his running mate was 77.38%. Her consistently high approval ratings reached their zenith in May of 2007, at 93%. Alaska pollster David Dittman said at the time, "Her strength is her independence. She distanced herself from the old boy Republican regime and has been completely non-partisan.” Alaska Democratic Party Chairman Jake Westbrook gave Palin credit for “working across party lines on issues where there is agreement."
Budgeting and Spending
Palin cut state spending between 2007 and 2010 by 9.5% while also reducing federal earmark requests by more than 80% during her tenure. She used her line-item veto to cut more than a quarter billion in superfluous spending in both 2007 and 2008. In 2009, she instituted a temporary hiring freeze, while at the same timereducing spending by more than 33% between FY2009 and FY2010.
But she didn’t just cut spending; she saved, reformed, and prioritized like a good fiscal manager. She invested $5 billion in state savings, overhauled education funding, paid down debt, invested $2.6 billion in an education fund for the future, and funded a Senior Benefits Program to provide support for low-income Alaskan seniors.
Her recently released emails prove that she did indeed kill the "Bridge to Nowhere." In fact, Palin wanted to redirect the federal funds to Minnesota after the bridge there collapsed in 2007, as she indicated in an email to her staff. Palin also rejected much of President Obama's "stimulus money" in 2009.
Long before state pension fund liabilities became a topic of national debate and crisis, Palin reformed Alaska’s pension program by ensuring a successful transition from defined benefits to a defined contribution program to address the $8 billion unfunded liability in the program, making it more solvent and leading to a decrease of34.6% in state liabilities during her tenure.
In stark contrast to President Obama and other governors whose fiscal records are dogged by credit downgrades, Palin left Alaska with an improved credit rating during and following her tenure as governor. Standard & Poor’s raised Alaska’s credit rating from AA to AA+ in April 2008. Then in 2010, both Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s upgraded Alaska to AAA for the first time in the state’s history due to policies enacted by Palin that made the state’s finances more than solvent.
Palin’s record on outstanding debt is especially impressive compared to the President’s and many prominent Republican governors’:
Beginning Debt Outstanding
Ending Debt Outstanding
Average Annual Increase/DecreasePalin (FY07-FY10)
(as of 4/26/2012)
*The Indiana Finance Authority was not formed until Governor Mitch Daniels took office, so I was unable to get a complete picture of his debt overview.
Under Palin’s leadership, Alaska was 2nd in job growth, and 3rd in the change in its unemployment rate, compared to the other states. Alaska also saw a record number of oil jobs in both 2008 and 2009, while natural resource and logging jobs increased 13.7% during Palin’s tenure.
In fact, Palin’s record on jobs compared to the country as a whole was stronger than the President’s and other prominent governors’ during their respective tenures:
Employment (millions)State†Nation±Periodic DifferenceAnnualized
DifferenceAnnualized DifferencePalin (AK)12/06
GRAFTS ON SITE
† State unemployment rates and employment numbers were retrieved from Local Area Unemployment Statistics program at the Bureau of Labor Statistics
± National Unemployment Rate and Employment numbers were retrieved from the Current Population study at the Bureau of Labor Statistics
Alaska was an opportunity society under Palin. Alaska moved up from the 4th most business tax-friendly state to the 3rd most business tax-friendly state during her tenure.
Palin was a firm believer in tax cuts. In addition to lowering unemployment insurance tax rates, she cut business license fees in half, suspended the state motor fuel tax, and signed legislation, allowing Alaska-based businesses the same opportunities as out-of-state businesses. All of this was consistent with her record as Mayor of Wasilla, where she eliminated small business inventory taxes and cut property tax mill levies every year she was in office. Her business-friendly policies and infrastructure projects as mayor made Wasilla the fastest growing city in her state, and her policies as governor allowed Alaska’s exports to grow to a record-high in2006 and 2007.
Energy issues are Palin’s forte, and her record proves it. In 2007,Governor Palin signed ACES—Alaska’s Clear and Equitable Share—a net tax on oil profits that was passed in a bipartisan and transparent manner. ACES replaced the corruption-tainted oil tax plan of the previous administration, which was passed in secret and ultimately lead to the federal indictment of several Alaskan state officials and oil company personnel. Furthermore, ACES provided oil companies with incentives to develop. The progressivity of the tax meant producers were protected when oil prices were low, but the interest of the resource owners—the people of Alaska—were appropriately protected as well to achieve a fair return for their resource.
This post was modified from its original form on 25 Nov, 12:09
Most importantly, ACES led to jobs, increased development, and a huge surplus for Alaska. There were a record number of oil industry jobs in each year from 2007, when ACES was implemented, to 2009. And the number of oil companies filling taxes with the state of Alaska doubled between 2006 and 2009while natural resources and logging jobs increased 13.7% during Governor Palin’s tenure, according to Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development data. Further, ACES contributed toAlaska’s credit upgrade by Standard and Poor’s and helped the state to put $12 billion into savings.
Perhaps Palin’s biggest energy achievement was spearheading the creation of the Alaska natural gas pipeline. After five decades of unsuccessful attempts by Alaskan administrations to bring a gas pipeline project into existence, Palin and her team introduced theAlaska Gasline Inducement Act (AGIA) in March 2007. AGIApassed the Legislature by a vote of 57-1 in May of that year.
This groundbreaking legislation established the framework for what will be America’s largest private sector infrastructure project—an 800 mile natural gas pipeline from Alaska’s North Slope to the Lower 48 states. In August 2008, the Alaska Legislatureauthorized the Palin administration to award the AGIA license to TransCanada Alaska. In June 2009, Exxon Mobil signed an agreement with TransCanada to partner on the project.
Unlike the behind-closed-doors cronyism of past administrations, Palin’s AGIA legislation was conducted out in the open and made use of a genuine free-market competitive bidding process. Palin’s AGIA placed not only Alaska, but also the nation, further on the path toward energy independence.
Palin played hardball with the big oil companies in her state. According to the Alaska state constitution, Alaskans are the resource owners in their state; and it was Palin’s duty as their CEO to get the best deal for Alaskans while at the same time partnering with these oil companies for the mutual benefit of all. One particular bone of contention for Alaskans was the fact that a company was sitting on a lucrative lease instead of developing it. The lease in question was for the Point Thomson field, which contains one of the largest untapped and proven reserves of oil and gas on the continent. Exxon Mobil sat on that lease for more than 25 years while one Alaskan administration after another was either unwilling or unable to get them to move on developing it – even though Exxon was violating their lease agreement by not drilling. Palin told them to develop Point Thomson or else the state would revoke their lease and give it to a company that would drill. She got results. Exxon finally commenced drilling at Point Thomson.
Further buttressing her reformer credentials and her belief in environmentally responsible energy development, Palin also created the Petroleum Systems Integrity Office (PSIO) in April 2007 to ensure the environment compliance of the big oil companies.
Prior to becoming governor, Palin chaired the powerful Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission in 2003 and 2004, and was one of three commissioners who oversaw oil and drilling, development, production, and resource management within the state.
Ethics Reform and Transparency
Ethics reform was the hallmark of Palin’s governorship. She was swept into office on a reform message in a state with a serious corruption problem. Alaska at the time was undergoing a federal investigation that culminated in the indictment of various corrupt lawmakers. Palin had made a name for herself as an ethics crusader when she chaired the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservative Commission and blew the whistle on fellow commissioner and state GOP head Randy Ruedrich for doing party business on state time. This resulted in Ruedrich receiving a $12,000 fine—the largest civil fine for ethics in the state’s history. Alaskans respected the fact that Palin was not afraid of taking on the establishment of her own party.
As governor, Palin fought for and signed sweeping bipartisan ethics legislation, which restricted lobbyists, improved disclosure laws, and improved executive and legislative branch ethics laws. In the face of corruption, she continued to take on her own party when it was necessary. She also increased transparency by releasing her oil tax bill to her constituents 17 days prior to the special legislative session, opening up natural gas pipeline deals to all potential parties, putting the state checkbook online, and not allowing lobbyists in her office.
Palin forward funded education to allow districts greater flexibility, supported increased vocational training and early education funding, opened up opportunity to Alaskan students to participate in regional medical schools, and increased overall funding for special needs education by 175% (before she herself became the mother of son with special needs). Believing that the best reform was close to home, Palin wisely also chose to monitor rather than participate in national standards for education.
Palin introduced health care transparency legislation that established an Alaska health care information office to give consumers factual information on quality and cost to help them make better-informed health care decisions. Recognizing that health care must be market-and business-driven, rather than restricted by government, Palin proposed repeal of Certificate of Need—a layer of bureaucracy that prevents medical facility development. She established the Alaska Health Strategies Planning Council, reduced Medicaid assessments by 83%, and expanded Alaska’s SeniorCare benefits program for low-income seniors.
It is an undoubted truth that Sarah Palin has been the subject of a seemingly endless series of media attacks. The best riposte to that surely, is the truism that "one attacks that which one fears most" (no matter how often one repeats, ad nauseum, the statement that the subject of the attack is 'irrelevant").
That said the post reproduced below by Andrew Malcolm, stands out amongst the few fair minded, if not supportive articles on Palin this year. As the election campaign draws to a close attention will turn, as that is the nature of a four year election cycle, to 2016.
If Romney loses, then they qualities Palin possesses, which are so acutely discerned and reported on by Malcolm, would surely make her amongst the front runners should she decide to challenge in 2016.
An outstanding article worth repeating and congratulating Mr Malcolm on.
Palin did more in her two years in office than most Governors do in eight. It is too bad that people are so afraid of the truth Carol all they will ever do is beleive the lies about this great public servant. She would make an excellent President.
I agree with you Cam! Maybe if we start early enough we can brainwash some of the liberals like the Democrats try and brain wash them!!! Only this time it would be with TRUTH!!!!
They have a Thanksgiving Day picture on facebook fo the whole family and it is so wonderful!!! I guess their son and his wife had a baby and I didn't even know it!