Sunday, August 31, 2008

Palin used 'Bridge to Nowhere' for gain - was for it before she was against it

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Gov. Sarah Palin was for the so-called infamous "Bridge to Nowhere" before she was against it, a change of position the GOP vice presidential running mate conveniently ignored Saturday when she bragged about telling Congress "thanks but no thanks" to the pork barrel project.

Federal funds for the $398 million bridge were tacked into an appropriations bill as an earmark, the practice by which members of Congress get special funding for pet projects. Sen. John McCain opposes earmarks as an avenue for pork barrel and special interest spending.

After McCain introduced her as his choice for vice president on the Republican ticket, Palin talked about her reform credentials, and said she stopped the bridge project as part of an effort to end of earmarking in appropriations bills.

The Alaska bridge pushed by Sen. Ted Stevens became a symbol of congressional misuse of tax dollars. It would have connected the town of Ketchikan to an island with 50 residents and an airport on it. Ferries and water taxis serve the island now.

"I have championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress," Palin said in her vice presidential campaign debut in Dayton, Ohio. "In fact, I told Congress, I told Congress 'thanks but no thanks' on that Bridge to Nowhere."

"If our state wanted a bridge, I said we'd build it ourselves," she said.

She didn't talk that way when she was running for governor. The Anchorage Daily News quoted her on Oct. 22, 2006, as saying yes, she would continue state funding for the bridge because she wanted swift action on infrastructure projects. "The window is now while our congressional delegation is in a strong position to assist," she said.

McCain has used the Alaska bridge as a case study in what's wrong with the way Congress spends money. After the Ketchikan bridge became an issue and an object of ridicule, Congress dropped the earmark.

Andrew Halcro ran against Palin in the 2006 governor's race, receiving the third most voters, and remains a critic. In his blog and Web site, Halcro raised the bridge issue, saying Palin changed her position for political purposes..........

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