Blog Debate Question:
- Present economic conditions being what they are (9.7% unemployment; projected 1.5 trillion budget deficit; skyrocketing national debt; etc.) what impact, if any, do you think Sarah Palin’s prior actions as governor or policy pronouncements more recently, would have on any given specific economic indicator or the economy in general?
Sarah Palin is many things to many people, a lightning rod of unfair criticism for the left, a mother, a wife and among other things, a strong conservative. Not only that, Sarah Palin is a Reagan Conservative, so that means she is very fiscally conservative. Under the guidelines of the question above, with her self professed “Common Sense Conservatism” it would be easy to predict that she would have a very positive impact on the American economy. Therefore, I want to review her fiscal policies she enacted as both a mayor and a governor.
As Mayor of Wasilla, AK she cut property taxes by a huge margin of 75%, offsetting it with a 2% sales tax increase that had been enacted before she took office. Additionally she eliminated business inventory and personal property taxes. This increased the business climate in Wasilla, prompting the Boston Globe to quote a local business man who credits Sarah with making the town “more of a community…It’s no longer a little strip town that you can blow through in a heartbeat.” She also kept a jar on her desk with all the names of the residents of Wasilla in it and once a week, she would randomly choose a name, call that person and elicit their thoughts on how the town was doing. Her fiscal actions helped her to win re-election as Mayor with 75% of the vote.
As Governor, Sarah Palin continued her platform of smaller government and less taxation. She eliminated a personal chef position at the Governor’s Mansion, turned down $100 a day per diem checks for each First Family member – children included. Instead she accepted a $60 per diem for meals for her entire family. She slashed the state budget each year in office, eventually winning over the state congress and enlisting their aid in doing so. By eliminating the waste and pork in the state budget, she was able to increase education funding by one billion dollars, setting up “forward funding” so that local school districts knew how many state dollars there were for them to count on each year.
In her second year, there were record revenues because of the price of oil. Alaska’s revenue is closely tied to the natural resources in that state. In fact, their state Constitution holds for the utilization of natural resources as a “public trust.” This meant that when the price of oil went through the roof, the state’s coffers were bulging with money. A situation any Governor would envy. Palin resisted the effort to spend the money and grow government, instead choosing to stick to her fiscally conservative principles and continue to cut the budget. This policy enabled her to double the state revenues during her tenure as Governor of Alaska. She did so without a state sales tax or even a state income tax. Another anecdote of her fiscal responsibilities, she sold for over $2 million, a private jet that the previous Republican Governor had purchased.
When it came time for work on the Alaska “gasline” – natural gas pipeline, she chose to have the private oil companies compete for it in open to the public meetings instead of the closed door sessions that her predecessor conducted.
Now if you transpose Sarah Palin’s prior actions of fiscal responsibilities and transparency onto the national level, it would be easy to see that her tax cutting habits would help to jump start the economy by being a boon to small businesses. Her penchant for slashing budgets would mean that pork barrel politics would have nothing but lean times ahead. And finally, her idea of a truly transparent government would end the locked door meetings and the behind the scenes vote buying with taxpayer money.
These changes would be what the electorate was looking for but ultimately was deprived of when Barack Obama was chosen as POTUS. Confidence in government would increase; businesses would start hiring again, thereby lowering rampant unemployment and increasing revenue because quite simply more people would be paying taxes. As for the run away national debt, I believe that Sarah Palin would tackle that with the same Common Sense Conservatism that she has displayed all her life, both in public and private.