More Palin-tological finds

Get out your shovels, folks, because the unearthing process seems to be endless.

Published September 2, 2008 7:18PM (EDT)

More nuggets mined from the bottomless vein of mineral deposits that is Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin:

Laura McGann of the Washington Independent reports that Palin ruled little Wasilla with iron-fisted control. "It turns out she had a somewhat different approach. If a small-town mayor ever ruled with an iron fist -- it was Palin," writes McGann. "Eleven days after taking office in 1996, she mailed letters to each of the city’s top managers requesting that they resign as a test of loyalty."

Despite her claims of fiscal discipline, the Politico reports, "she racked up nearly $20 million in long-term debt as mayor of the tiny town of Wasilla -- that amounts to $3,000 per resident. She argues that the debt was needed to fund improvements." (This despite the fact that she managed, as noted below, to get more than $4,000 per resident from the feds in a single year.)

Speaking of fiscal management, here is what a longtime resident of Wasilla who has watched Palin up close for years had to say about her:

During her 6 years as Mayor, she increased general government expenditures by over 33%. During those same 6 years the amount of taxes collected by the City increased by 38%. This was during a period of low inflation (1996-2002). She reduced progressive property taxes and increased a regressive sales tax which taxed even food. The tax cuts that she promoted benefited large corporate property owners way more than they benefited residents.

The huge increases in tax revenues during her mayoral administration weren't enough to fund everything on her wish list though, borrowed money was needed, too. She inherited a city with zero debt, but left it with indebtedness of over $22 million.

So I did some quick math on this. Giving Palin the benefit of the doubt by setting the town's population at its highest, current estimate (9,000 people), using a conservative estimate for the U.S. national population over the last decade (275 million), and multiplying the latter figure times the debt-per-Wasillan ($2,444 = $22M divided by 9,000), that means that if she were running the country it would translate into about $672 billion in debt. (And if you use the 6,700 population figure for Wasilla, the number climbs close to $1 trillion.)

Ma’am, please step away from the purse.

By Thomas Schaller

Thomas F. Schaller is professor of political science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the author of "Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without the South." Follow him @schaller67.

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