Leader Blues

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

EDITORIAL >>A lot in common: Palin and Huck

The more we find out about Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, John McCain’s running mate, the more comfortable we are with her.

With every disclosure she sounds more and more like our own governor for 10 years, Mike Huckabee, who got passed over for the vice presidential nomination despite his having five times her executive experience.

First, there is the rare political skill of campaigning as a conservative and governing as a liberal. Huckabee campaigned for governor and for president as a fiscal hardliner who slashed taxes and shrank government. In fact, he had raised more taxes than any governor in the state’s history, ran up more debt than all the previous governors combined, grew state employees by 19 percent and greatly enlarged government welfare programs.

Now we learn that Palin raised taxes as mayor of the little town of Wasilla and in eight years raised total spending by 63 percent and office furniture and equipment by 117 percent and ran the city’s long-term debt from nothing to $18.6 million.

Campaigning for governor, she condemned the governor’s plan to raise taxes on oil and gas companies by tying the severance tax to their windfall profits, and also opposed his plan to authorize a natural gas pipeline from Alaska’s North Slope across Canada to the lower 48 states. Once elected, she embraced and signed the windfall profits tax on the oil companies and promoted the pipeline project, pledging $500 million from Alaska taxpayers to help a Canadian energy company build it.

Now from the Washington Post we learn that Gov. Palin billed the taxpayers for 312 days of lodging and expenses for living in her own home and for the travel of family members in her first 18 months as governor.

For a couple of years, until the state Ethics Committee stopped him, Gov. Huckabee paid for his family’s personal expenses in their government-provided home from a state account, claimed furniture gifts to the Mansion as his own and solicited going-away gifts when he finally left the Mansion. But it seems never to have occurred to him to claim per-diem expenses for the days he actually spent working for the people as Palin did. So give her credit for being a little shrewder than our boy.

In still another way he was more frugal than she. Huckabee’s final salary as Arkansas governor was $74,000, which was $51,000 less than Palin’s in a state of fewer than 700,000 souls, about a fourth of Arkansas’ population.

Yes, we’re beginning to feel like we know Sarah Palin very well.

—Ernie Dumas