About that bridge to nowhere

Here’s what I’ve been able to piece together.

Yes, Alaska received $223 million from Congress to develop the Gravina Access Project. The money was sent to FORMER GOVERNOR Frank Murkowski WITHOUT A SPECIFIC EARMARK – he was to decide how to spend the money.

Palin was elected. And yes, at the time she considered the bridge important. The money was already in the bank, so to speak. But, costs on the project increased. She decided against building the bridge and looked towards lesser expensive options. She issued a press release saying the project was redirected. $36 million in other federal funds were to be spent.

As a Governor, Palin reportedly lobbied for other earmarks. In a country that gives away a bazillion (sorry don’t have an exact amount) dollars worth of earmarks for every congressional session, she better lobby for earmarks. It’s not like congress votes at the end of the year to return the excess taxes collected because they couldn’t spend it all. It’s gonna get spent. Better have your hand out, or you aren’t doing the right thing for your constituents. Senators like Obama and Biden vote to spend the piggy bank. Senators like McCain do not.

How in the world can you claim it’s bad leadership to NOT spend millions of taxpayers’ money to access an island of 14,000? How can you claim that it’s poor leadership to NOT waste millions of federal dollars on starting a bridge that doesn’t get finished? How is it so wrong to work towards the same service to the island for less cost?

The bulk of the money remains in Alaska’s coffers. If you want to blame someone, blame your flippant congress for removing the earmark. They gave Alaska the money without strings. They also gave it to a different governor.

More importantly, she’s telling the truth. She stopped that bridge.

Should she continue to use the bridge to nowhere as her moniker? Nope. It’s done. Lies have been told, lies have been rebutted. Time to move on. And I’m pretty sure that since Obama has an ad out now, you’ll see a where this has been heading very soon. (Expect it to be something about the fact that he and Biden voted TWICE in favor of that same bridge!)

PS – have you noticed they’ve stopped picking on Palin the mayor and finally moved towards Palin the governor?


  1. Palin consistently asked for 10x the earmarks that Senator Obama requested and thanks to her relationship with Stevens and Young (“God, Bless them.) she was able to bring home the bacon.

  2. Thank you for a succint and logical explanation. Anything political can seem to get very complicated, but sometimes it is quite simply that time passes and shows some things to be workable and necessary and other things to not be. A good leader can see that change and make a decision.

  3. Shawn Matson says:

    That’s just not the whole story. The bridge wasn’t needed. The island survived for decades without one, using a ferry instead (which took an average of 10 minutes to cross, I believe)

    Cindy, somehow earmarks make sense to you now that you have a tax-and-spend conservative on the ticket (wait, make that two) but the fact of the matter is, Palin is another incarnation of Alaska as the welfare state that you object to anywhere else.

    Alaska only gives about $5k per person in tax recipts to the federal government, but takes $13k. That’s the biggest welfare state in the country!

    And beyond that, Palin lied. She didn’t say “no thanks” to the bridge. She said, “yes, please!” and said “nevermind.” That’s a lie. A big fat lie.

    When your guys lie, you rationalize it.

  4. Cindy, the bridge lost its earmark in November 2005. Palin had nothing to do with killing the bridge. She did, however, eagerly agree to build the road to the bridge to nowhere, since that would have meant–heaven forfend–sending the money back, something she staunchly refused to do.

  5. It’s my understanding, that about 2/3 of that $223MM would automatically go to Alaska. So we’re really talking about $75MM.

    Palin is on record of being “for” the bridge while she was campaigning for Gov., but she wasn’t the one requesting or “lobbying” for the bridge.

    Incidently, the bridge was to connect the residents of Ketchikan to the Gravina Island, which just happens to be where the airport is. this route is currently served by ferry. Though the island may have few residents, it is a major thoroughfare for the area. The project could be worthwhile, but must be weighed against the other options (which weren’t in Palin’s jurisdiction at the time).

    In opposing Senator Coburn’s amendment to defund the bridge, one prominent Senator told a closed-door meeting of conservatives that the plan was simply impractical. Many of the earmarks, he claimed, are counted towards a state’s equity bonus and thus are part of the state-by-state allocation formula. Defunding the bridge, he said, would direct at most $75 million to Louisiana, with the remaining $148 million returning to Alaska as money the state could use at its discretion for road projects.

    Never mind that the Senator seems to view $75 million in taxpayers’ dollars as a sum of little consequence; what the Senator sees as a problem in fact would be a considerable benefit to Alaska. Assuming the Senator’s numbers are right, Alaska’s Department of Transportation would gain $148 million in money it could spend on the state’s transportation priorities instead of a useless bridge that would serve a tiny fraction of the state’s citizens.


  6. Folkbum, your link doesn’t work. Also, you aren’t getting it. The earmark was lost in 2005 but the money remained according to the article I cited. The earmark demands how the money is spent.

    Shawn, I still don’t like earmarks, but you can bet if I was governor of Wisconsin I’d have my hand out. Voters are that way – they don’t want to pay for it, but if the money’s coming home, the you better get some!

    It’s what makes McCain’s stand so unusual.

  7. Steve, thanks again.

  8. Grumps, details, please? Once again you slap down a one liner without any proof.

  9. Cindy, try the printer-friendly link.

    There’s also this: “Obama hasn’t asked for any earmarks this year. Last year, he asked for $311 million worth, about $25 for every Illinois resident. Alaska asked this year for earmarks totaling $198 million, about $295 for every Alaska citizen.” On a per-capita basis, Palin is asking for more (on her “reduced” earmark plan) than 10x what Obama did in his highest year as a Senator.

  10. Also, let me rephrase my criticism, because I think you’re not getting what I’m saying: When Palin talks about the bridge, she says she “told Congress thanks but no thanks.” That is demonstrably false.

    One, because Congress had long since given up on the bridge by the time she took office.

    Two, because she spent her 2006 campaign effusively praising Congress, specifically Stevens and Young, for their work in getting funding for the bridge and promising to build it.

    Look, it’s not that she changed her mind–I don’t have a problem with that. (Too often in American politics we spend our time trying to convince the other guy he’s wrong–and then when he changes his mind we call him a flip-flopper.) No, it’s that she is not being honest about having changed her mind. The real story could easily be just as compelling, something like “I used to support that bridge to nowhere, but then I learned how horrible earmark budgeting is yada yada now I’m changing Alaska’s policy for how many earmarks we request.” There’s nothing wrong with that and, by explaining to the public her own reasoning, she might convince others to change their minds, too.

    But she’s not doing that. She’s implying that she stood up to Congress and told them to stuff it and gave back the money, which is not at all what happened. It’s like what I said on the other thread: The truth is not unflattering–so why do they have to lie?

  11. Larry Knetzger says:

    Like I mentioned yesterday, the Maritime Union in Alaska is very strong. Could it be they want the ferry to continue and rule out the bridge. Getting any road built in Alaska is a major chore. The Maritime Union serves the whole state of Alaska. Very few roads have been allowed to come from the lower 48 for that reason. Shipping is a big industry that would cave in with highway access. I would be curious to see where the Maritime Union spreads its evil dollars for their benefit.

  12. folkbum,

    Please tell me how a Gov. goes about “asking” for earmarks. Wouldn’t this be Reps and Senators? Not to say a Gov. can’t bend the ear of Reps and Senators, but thay have no specific voice in Congress.

    At least in part, I agree that a “I learned my lesson” would be a preferred platform. I can’t see what you’re saying is a LIE though. I get really tired of LIAR being passed around so much…and it’s usually from the left. Perhaps misleading, or overstated? If a some of these folks running around saying LIAR LIAR LIAR to my face…there’d be a lot of work for Dentists. I guess that’s why I’m not cut out to be a politician, eh? 😉

  13. I don’t get the “lie” statement either, Folkbum. Palin’s approval was necessary to build the bridge. Palin said, no; the bridge was not built. How can you continue to argue that Palin did not stop the bridge from being built?

    BTW, I think it’s really funny that you say Obama didn’t ask for any earmarks for Illinois THIS YEAR. Here’s are Barry’s earmarks FY08. His four years in the Senate have him at nearly 1 BILLION, including a million for a hospital his wife works for in the area.

  14. Nice one Cindy. That oughta put Folkdum on his heals a bit. OMG…did he LIE!!!!


    There, I said it. How’s it feel?