Sarah Palin: No fan of John Maynard Keynes

Palinomics 101: What does the V.P. nominee's membership in the Alaskan Independence Party tell us about her economic philosophy?

Published September 2, 2008 4:35PM (EDT)

Much fun is being had with the revelation that Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin was a member of the Alaskan Independence Party for two years during the '90s, before she joined the Republican Party and began her awesome ascent to power.

The Alaskan Independence Party can best be thought of as an igloo for über-libertarians of the Far North. Among the the planks of the AIP's party platform are a call to abolish all property taxes and a demand for the "complete repatriation" of Alaskan public lands from the federal government.

Economists for Obama, eager to do its part in the Internet's unprecedented, massively distributed "opposition research" investigation of Sarah Palin, focused on plank 17:

To oppose the borrowing of money by government for any purposes other than for capital improvements.

Economists for Obama goes droll: "Apparently, there is no role for fiscal policy adjustments for macroeconomic stabilization."

In other words, no running a deficit to pay for fiscal stimulus boosts, or unemployment insurance extensions, or, heck, gas tax holidays, one presumes. This would appear to suggest that the AIP disapproves of classical Keynesian approaches to managing the economy. No surprise there -- Milton Friedman is a libertarian icon.

I just don't understand why the Republican spinmeisters haven't turned this into a pro-Palin talking point. You can't get more fiscally conservative than a near-complete rejection of all government borrowing.

Perhaps they are only now getting up to speed on the particulars of the policy proposals of a vaguely secessionist Alaskan political party. Perhaps, in this time of economic anxiety, they think American voters don't want to hear that government shouldn't try to smooth out the bumps of the business cycle.

Or perhaps Republicans, like much of the rest of the country, are tongue-tied as they wait for the next twist in an evolving train wreck that is like nothing this country has seen since Thomas Eagleton, George McGovern's vice-presidential nominee, acknowledged that he had undergone electroshock therapy.

But c'mon -- Sarah Palin as heir to the legacy of Milton Friedman? Ron Paul fans must be ecstatic.

UPDATE: Well now, was she or wasn't she a member of the AIP? McCain campaign blogger Michael Goldfarb says that New York Times reporter Elisabeth Bumiller's assertion to that effect is "not true and unsourced." Former Salon alum Jake Tapper has more. (Thanks to Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish for the links.)

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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2008 Elections Economics Globalization How The World Works Sarah Palin U.s. Economy