No Change: McCain-Palin Peddling More of the Same Lies

Sep 08, 2008

MADISON – On the campaign trail in Ohio today, John McCain and Sarah Palin continued to peddle lies to the American people about earmarks and the “Bridge to Nowhere,” despite numerous media reports debunking their myths.

McCain and Palin repeated the false claim that Palin said “thanks, but no thanks” to the Bridge to Nowhere – a claim the Wall Street Journal today said simply isn’t true.  Plus, despite receiving $750 million in earmarks in her 645 days in office (more than $1,162,000 per day), Palin continues to repeat the outlandish claim that she fought for earmark reform. In reality, since she took office, Palin has asked for more earmarks per capita than any other state in the country. 

“No matter how many times they tell a lie, it won’t make it true,” said Joe Wineke, Chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. “The fact is John McCain is no maverick, and he has said in his own words that he voted with George Bush 90 percent of the time. That’s not the change Wisconsin families want; it’s just more of the same.

To see John McCain take credit for his record of voting “over 90 percent of the time, higher than a lot of even my Republican colleagues,” with President Bush, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMvohE_otJ4.

The following is a fact check on the false McCain-Palin claims: 

Palin Received Nearly $750 Million in Earmarks in First 645 Days in Office. “At a rally today, Sen. McCain again asserted that Sen. Obama has requested nearly a billion in earmarks. In fact, the Illinois senator requested $311 million last year, according to the Associated Press, and none this year. In comparison, Gov. Palin has requested $750 million in her two years as governor – which the AP says is the largest per-capita request in the nation.”  [Source: Wall Street Journal, 9/9/08]

In 2008, Alaska Got More Earmarked Federal Funding Per Person Than Any Other State. Arizona, the second fastest growing state in the nation, will receive just $18.70 per capita in federal earmarks this fiscal year. By comparison, Alaska –with roughly a tenth of Arizona‘s population – is set to receive $506.34 per capita, the highest in the nation, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, a watchdog group which tracks earmarks. The state of Alaska receives about three times as much as Arizona receives in actual dollars, $346 million to $119 million.” [Source: USA Today, 3/22/08]

FALSE PALIN CLAIM: “I told Congress thanks, but no thanks, for that bridge to nowhere. If our state wanted to build a bridge, we would build it ourselves.” [Source: Campaign Rally (Lebanon, OH), 9/9/08]

WSJ TODAY: Record Contradicts Palin’s “Bridge” Claims. “Despite significant evidence to the contrary, the McCain campaign continues to assert that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin told the federal government “thanks, but no thanks” to the now-famous bridge to an island in her home state. She endorsed the multimillion dollar project during her gubernatorial race in 2006. And while she did take part in stopping the project after it became a national scandal, she did not return the federal money. She just allocated it elsewhere. ‘We need to come to the defense of Southeast Alaska when proposals are on the table like the bridge,’ Gov. Palin said in August 2006, according to the local newspaper, ‘and not allow the spinmeisters to turn this project or any other into something that’s so negative.'” [Source: Wall Street Journal, 9/9/08: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122090791901411709.html?mod=googlenews_wsj]

Politifact: Palin’s Stance On “The Bridge To Nowhere” Is “A Full Flop.”  Politifact, a service of CQ and the St. Petersburg Times wrote, “McCain said Palin has ‘stopped government from wasting taxpayers’ money on things they don’t want or need. And when we in Congress decided to build a bridge in Alaska to nowhere for $233 million of yours, she said, we don’t want it. If we need it, we’ll build our own in Alaska. She’s the one that stood up to them.’ Nevermind that Alaska didn’t give the money back. It spent the money on other transportation projects. The context of Palin’s and McCain’s recent statements suggest Palin flagged the so-called Bridge to Nowhere project as wasteful spending. But that’s not the tune she was singing when she was running for Governor, particularly not when she was standing before the Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce asking for their vote. And so, we rate Palin’s position a Full Flop.” [Source: Politifact]

FALSE MCCAIN CLAIM: “I’ve fought big spenders who spend money on things you neither need nor want.” [Source: Campaign Rally (Lebanon, OH), 9/9/08]

REALITY: McCain Has Supported Four Out Of Five Bush Budgets.  McCain voted six times for the Bush/GOP budget plan, supporting four of the five Bush budgets that the Senate voted on. [Sources: 2001 Senate Vote #86, 4/6/2001; 2001 Senate Vote #98, 5/10/2001; 2004 Senate Vote #58, 3/12/2004; 2005 Senate Vote #81, 3/17/2005; , 2005 Senate Vote #114, 4/28/2005; 2006 Senate Vote #74, 3/16/2006]

FALSE MCCAIN CLAIM: I’ve taken on my party every time it’s been good for the American people. [Source: Campaign Rally (Lebanon, OH), 9/9/08]

McCain Has Voted With Bush 90 Percent Of The Time In The Senate.  According to Congressional Quarterly, McCain has voted in support of President Bush’s position 90 percent of the time since the beginning of his administration. [Congressional Quarterly, 8/15/08, http://www.cqpolitics.com/cq-assets/cqmultimedia/flash/votestudy/index.html]

Arizona Republic Headline: “In Tight Senate Votes, McCain Not A Maverick. When It Matters The Most, He Seldom Bucks His Own Party.”  “Over the years, Sen. John McCain has publicly condemned Republican Party leaders and occasionally voted against the GOP on selected issues. But an ArizonaRepublic analysis of his Senate votes on the most divided issues in the past decade shows that McCain almost never thwarted his party’s objectives.” [Source: ArizonaRepublic, 5/7/08]

McCain: On The “Most Important Issues Of Our Day, I Have Been Totally In Agreement And Support Of President Bush.” In a June 2005 interview on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” John McCain stated that he was a strong supporter of President Bush: “I have agreed with President Bush far more than I have disagreed. And on the transcendent issues, the most important issues of our day, I have been totally in agreement and support of President Bush.” [Source: NBC, “Meet The Press,” 6/19/05]

FALSE MCCAIN CLAIM: “I’ve never asked for or received a single earmark for my state.” [Source: Campaign Rally (Lebanon, OH), 9/9/08]

McCain’s Pork Claim’s “False.”  Reviewing McCain’s claims on pork-barrel spending, the CQ’s Politifact found, “[T]he narrow Washington definition of ‘earmark’ is less important than the impression McCain has left. It appears he was seeking pork barrel projects for Arizona, which puts a few blemishes on an otherwise pure record against pork. And so while we find there is no question that McCain has been a leading congressional voice against pork, these three examples conflict with his bold claim. So we find that claim False.  [Source: Politifact, http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/273/]

McCain Lobbied for $10 Million Pork Project Honoring Conservative Justice.  In 2006, McCain co-sponsored with fellow Arizona Republican Sen. Jon Kyl a bill that asked for $10 million for an academic center at the University of Arizona named in honor of William Rehnquist, the former U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice. The project died in committee.  “‘If it doesn’t meet the technical term of earmark, it would probably meet the public idea of one,” said Pete Sepp, a vice president at the National Taxpayers Union, who is an ally of Mr. McCain in the fight for new rules.”  [Source: New York Times, 2/18/2005]

McCain Attached $14 Million Additional for Luke AFB.  In 2003, John McCain won authorization to buy property to create a buffer zone around Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, a project not included in the President’s budget or the House appropriation.  A McCain campaign press release at the time noted “Neither the House authorization nor the appropriations committees’ included funding for Luke AFB land acquisition.”  And McCain’s colleague Rep. Trent Franks said, “Senator John McCain was successful in attaching an additional $14.3 million for land acquisition for Luke Air Force Base. “I want to commend Senator McCain for garnering these additional funds.”  [Sources: Roll Call, 11/6/2003; John McCain for Senate Release, 11/5/2003; Rep. Trent Franks Release, 5/20/2003


McCain Asked EPA To Earmark Funds After Being Rejected by Congress.  After reviewing documents released under the Freedom of Information Act, the Washington Post found, “It turns out, McCain may not have always been so averse to earmarks.”  That review located a 1992 letter in which McCain privately pressed the Republican Administration of President Bush’s father, George H.W. Bush, to secure such a $5 million earmark for a wastewater project in Arizona after Congress had rejected the request in its own spending bill. Spurned by his colleagues, McCain took his case to the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  “I would like to request that EPA either re-program $5 million out of existing funds or earmark the amount from an appropriate account,” McCain wrote in his Oct. 9, 1992 letter to then-EPA Administrator William K. Reilly.  [Source: Washington Post “The Trail,” 12/31/2007]