Categorized | Commentary/Editorial

Governor Palin Used Her Executive Authority to Make Government Smaller and More Ethical

Executive experience is often seen as a needed criterion when looking for potential presidential nominees, especially among Republicans. It has been more than 130 years since the GOP nominated an eventual winner for President who only had legislative experience (Note: President Eisenhower’s military experience easily qualifies as executive experience). It goes beyond the simple dichotomy of legislative versus executive experience, however. What is even more important is how one used the executive experience that he or she has.  Did he or she use such experience to make government smaller or bigger? Did he or she use their executive experience to create personal mandates or to expand individual freedom? Did he or she use their executive to perpetuate or get rid of cronyism?

The office of Alaskan governor is known for being a very powerful office—2nd most powerful state executive in the country.  What makes the Alaska governor’s office so powerful include line item veto power that can only be overridden by three-fourths majority in the legislature and the ability to appoint all statewide executive department heads and  various board members positions and the like. The only two statewide elected officials are the governor and the lt. governor; other positions, such as attorney general, are appointed by the governor. In many ways, the proverbial buck indeed stopped with Governor Palin. During Governor Palin’s tenure, she used her executive power to make government smaller and more ethical and transparent.

As Governor, Sarah Palin vetoed nearly $500 million in spending during her tenure including vetoing nearly a quarter billion in 2007 alone. Such vetoes enabled her to cut Alaska’s budget 9.5% over her predecessor’s budget.  She also  vetoed  $268 million in the FY2009 capital budget. Despite legislative outcry over these vetoes, they did not even take up a vote to attempt to override her veto. Earlier that year, Governor Palin vetoed nearly $58 million for funding various projects in a supplemental bill. She did not use her line item veto indiscriminately though. Some of the projects proposed by legislators were projects Governor Palin had vetoed the year prior. She gave legislators the opportunity to justify why such projects should be funded:

She said if lawmakers didn’t want her to simply veto the projects again, they could make an appointment to come to her office and explain why the projects were worthy of funding. Palin personally attended more than a dozen meetings with lawmakers, and even opened them to the media.

On Thursday, members of her staff hand-delivered the results to lawmakers.

Of the $70 million in projects at issue, Palin accepted 52 projects totaling $12.4 million, chopped 16 worth $22.3 million, and put 155 projects worth $35.4 million in what she designated the "move" category.

In 2009, Governor Palin vetoed nearly $30 million in federal stimulus aimed at energy efficiency because it required federal building codes to be implemented. Her veto was later overridden by the legislature. Governor Palin was concerned with the sustainability of projects funded by the federal government when the funding would later dry out saying,” [i]f the legislature wants to add funds to grow government, then I also want to hear how we will get out of the fiscal hole we’ll be in just two years from now when those temporary stimulus funds are gone". She could have used her pen to simply sign into law any spending project handed to her, but she did not. She exercised fiscal restraint, even to the dislike of the legislature, because she wanted to ensure government remained small and that all projects approved were truly worthy of state funding. Governor Palin used the power given to her by the Alaska constitution, but she did so to shrink spending, make state government smaller, and make Alaska less dependent on the federal government.

Governor Palin used her executive power to appoint individuals to cabinet type positions, councils, and the like who were of the same mindset when it came to making government smaller and reduce bureaucratic red tape. This can be seen in her creation of the Alaska Health Strategies Planning Council to address Alaska’s healthcare issues early in her term. This council was comprised of Department of Health and Social Services and individuals from various levels of government, the business community, the healthcare industry, and faith based organizations, and they were all appointed by the Governor. The recommendations from this council provided the basis for a healthcare proposal from the Governor, the Alaska Health Care Transparency Act, which would increase patient choice and remove bureaucratic red tape for providers—essentially making government smaller.  One thing this act proposed was removing the Certificate of Need (CON) requirement for building new healthcare facilities:

STATE CON LAWS originated, like so many bad health care ideas, with a mandate from the federal government. In 1974, states were effectively told by Washington that no new medical facilities could be built unless a “public need” had been demonstrated. The idea was to reduce costs, but the only measurable effect of this federal decree was a morass of bureaucratic red tape that stifled competition in the health care market. In 1987, the federal statute was finally repealed, but many states inexplicably kept their CON processes in place. Alaska was one of them and, as Governor Palin put it in an editorial for the Anchorage Daily News, “Under our present Certificate of Need process, costs and needs don’t drive health-care choices — bureaucracy does. Our system is broken and expensive.”

This bill ultimately was rejected by the legislature, but it indicates– both through her personal policy convictions and that of those whom she appointed– smaller, less bureaucratic government was the goal.

Through her appointments, Governor Palin showed how she desired to use her executive power to make government void of crony capitalism and more transparent. This was seen in the seven individuals she brought in to work with oil and gas issues, who had become known as the Magnificent Seven. One of these individuals, Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Commissioner, Tom Irwin, was fired by Governor Murkowski, Palin’s predecessor, due to his questioning of the legality Murkowski’s pipeline deal. Six other DNR employees quit in protest of Irwin’s firing. Governor Palin brought these individuals back to work for her administration appointing Tom Irwin as her DNR commissioner.  These individuals were instrumental in both the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act (AGIA)—her natural gas pipeline project—and Alaska’s Clear and Equitable Share (ACES)—the oil tax structure. AGIA was negotiated in a transparent manner and allowed all potential pipeline companies and energy development companies to compete for the opportunity to participate in the project and also allowed Alaskans to view these proposals in a transparent manner. No special treatment was shown to any particular companies because neither Governor Palin, her commissioners, nor her DNR staff had industry cronies.  The same could be said of ACES. Previously, PPT, the oil tax structure signed in to law by Governor Murkowski, was done in secret and was favorable to Murkowski’s cronies, which led to the indictment and arrest of Murkowski’s chief of staff, some legislators, and industry personnel from the pipeline company, VECO. ACES was not influenced by only certain oil companies, but instead provided incentives for any companies willing to engage in oil exploration. Governor Palin’s appointments helped rid Alaska of the crony capitalism and lack of government transparency.

Much of Governor Palin’s efforts to shrink government and make it more ethical are a direct contrast to the supposed GOP executive frontrunners in the race for the 2012 nominations. Both Governor Romney and Governor Perry grew government obligations.   They both increased state debt at a far greater pace than Governor Palin, while Governor Palin actually reduced state liabilities for pensions and the like when Governors Romney and Perry increased state liabilities.  Governor Romney’s infamous universal healthcare/individual mandate plan, which he defends on the basis of federalism, is very heavily funded, not by state monies, but by federal Medicaid and Medicare dollars and continues to run way over budget. Governor Perry once issued an executive order (thankfully later overturned by the Texas legislature)that mandated young girls to get a HPV vaccine manufactured by a company that gave substantially to Perry’s campaign. On the other hand, Governor Palin proposed a plan that gave more individual choices, not mandates, in healthcare. Governor Romney has a history of receiving campaign funds from entities that he once did business with and also had a history of engaging in and supporting corporatism through various subsidies. Governor Perry, too, has a history of crony capitalism by awarding business related grants to those who have donated to his gubernatorial campaigns. Governor Palin’s natural gas pipeline and her oil tax structure were aimed at removing cronyism, and her ethics reform bill sought to remove the influence of political favors for campaign funds.

Executives at any level of government could use their power to grow government spending and power and to reward cronies or those who donated to their campaign. Governor Palin is the only one who has a proven record of using her power to make the government smaller and less powerful.  Governor Palin used her power to reduce government spending and state reliance on the federal funding. She desired to increase individual choice, not create individual mandates.  She used her executive authority to make government more ethical and transparent while removing cronyism rather than perpetuating it. The differences could not be clearer.

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  • Doc Yeager

    A Government of the people, by the people and for the people, shall not perish from the earth. – by Lincoln, Abraham.
    Sarah Palin knows this reality. It is obvious that she did not step into political power and authority for self conceded reasons! It is also obvious that many are involved in government from the local arena, state and federal for egotistical and self-centered purposes. Judas complained when the woman poured the oil over Jesus because it was worth one years wages. The Scriptures declare he complained not because he cared about the poor, and that it could be spent on them! But because he was a thief. Let’s be honest, not all, but most people who seek political position is because they want to steal and rob the People’s rights, money and authority.Why Do We Support Sarah? She has proved herself to be a person who believes in what Abraham Lincoln declared.

    A Government of the people, by the people and for the people, shall not perish from the earth. – by Lincoln, Abraham.

    • mistah charley

      jesus replied to judas – don’t worry – you’re not going to run out of poor people, but i’m here only for a little while

  • mkp03

    Excellent summary article.

  • heypiasano

    The question will be Do the people of the United States want smaller government or not?

    Smaller Government = Sarah Palin

    Larger Government = Everyone else

    Seems simple to me!

    • ReaganerThanThou

      True, that. And I DO think Americans want smaller government – they voted for it in the 2010 midterms and will vote for it again in November 2012.

      Keep in mind that the LSM really pushed the whole "Obama wants to reduce taxes for 95% of Americans" in the 2008 election, so one could argue that Americans did really vote for smaller government back then, even if Obama failed epically to deliver on that promise.

  • cookboy

    And there you have it!

  • dave7777

    The question on my mind this morning… soon after she is elected can we get a new AG and Head of Homeland Security. These two positions are filled with very dangerous people.

    • VADMCollingwood

      Noon on January 20, 2013.  

    • JeannieBinVA

      These positions both have to be confirmed by the Senate.

    • Saberswardogs

      Hopefully she will just shut those two departments completely down!

      • JeannieBinVA

        The Attorney General has existed since 1789 and the first AG was appointed by George Washington. As the head of all federal law enforcement since the very beginning, it is an essential office to keep IMO, but I agree the bloated, duplicative (10 x over) DHS needs to go.

  • VADMCollingwood

    I would like to see President Palin appoint a Czar of shut it down and give him or her the task of shutting down every useless executive branch department, commission, and agency within the first 6 months.  Shut down means zero budget, zero payroll, zero headcount, and all facilities and equipment sold at public auction, proceeds dedicated to debt reduction.   Start with the Departments of Energy, Education, Labor, Transportation, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Commerce, EPA, FDA, FCC, ICC, and every other kind of commission.  I think we should also roll back the DoD to the War and Navy Departments, but that can wait until the second year. 

    Start with the assumption that every budget line is unnecessary and go from there. 

    • LesDupont

      Good role for Trump "You’re Fired" a half a million times.

    • Jo Jones

      Yay…. Czar of Shut It Down!!!!

  • sacredhonor1

    Sarah Palin is the real deal! 100 percent, 3-D, HD color. She is our contemporary George Washington, a woman of vision to lead us from the abyss. We are all Sarah Palin!!!!!

  • JeannieBinVA

    Excellent write-up, but also quite depressing to think how few people at any level of government have Gov. Palin’s dedication to true and honest public service rather than simply advancing their political careers.

    • Jo Jones

      one person can inspire others and recruit those coming along to join in.  They will stand out like stars in the night.

  • Western

    Exceptional analysis and fact-based, Whitney.
    Gov. Palin’s executive accomplishments certainly separate her from the other candidates and highlight her conservative credentials and common-sense solutions, especially the ethical reforms.

  • CVA9

    Great read. This in part is why the ruling class don’t support Sarah, they seem to like their own corrupted politicians.

  • porttopalin

    This morning of Fox Michelle Malkin hammered home the overreaching Gardasil mandate. Couple this with Romney’s state’s rights argument for the individual healthcare mandate and that’s a pair of issues for Palin to leverage. More important is Perry’s corporate welfare outreach chronicled in today’s Washington Times. Ultimately Palin’s fiscal discipline, and executive experience in lieu of cost cutting, is why the beltway establishment … and the RNC fears her so much. The day of reckoning for our country has arrived and only Gov. Palin posses all the known quantities to make us fiscally solvent, energy independent and respected again.

  • Iowa4Palin

    Great article Whitney.   The argument has been made that the Alaska Gov duties and powers are substantially greater than the Texas Gov.   Do you have any specific research illustrating examples of the differences?   I remember the same argument made against Bush during the 2000 race with Gore.  But specific differences between Sarah and Rick Perry’s exercise of their respective executive powers could be very effective.

    • Whitney Pitcher

      Good points.

      I thought about doing more of a comparison post, but I decided to mostly focus on Gov. Palin’s achievements instead. Comparing the power of the two offices? I’d have to do more research, though I know that there are a lot more elected offices in TX vs. offices that the AK governor appoints (i.e. Attorney General, Ag Commissioner etc). I don’t think that the TX governor has line item veto power like AK governor, though I’m not sure.  Also, the TX legislature only meets every other year as I understand it so there is less frequent action. That’s not a power difference necessarily, but a difference.

      The only other governor’s office with more power is Massachusetts, and you can see how irresponsibly Romney managed most things.

      I think this just goes to show that even with a lot of power, Governor Palin used it judicially and correctly. I think this indicates how she would govern as President. Recently, she has made comments about getting rid of or at least overhauling the Depts of Energy and Education. She, of course, has also spoken about addressing regulation, cutting spending, and lower taxes.

      • JeannieBinVA

        "The only other governor’s office with more power is Massachusetts".

        IOW, Romney really DOES own Romneycare.

  • latinchic

    That’s right, make it plain to them Whit.

  • latinchic

    Even more plainly: 

    Alaska’s legislature overturned Palin’s conservative decision to take stimulus funds & create choices in health care.

    Texas’s legislature overturned Perry’s big-government decision to mandate new medicine to underage girls.

  • MarkRNY

    You know Ms Pitcher, I save pretty much every article you write for future use. You’re bringing up and detailing the exact topics that I think are the most important for people to know about.

    Thank you!

  • socon

    Obama uses his executive authority to make government bigger and less ethical.  There could not be a starker contrast between Sarah Palin and Barack Obama.

    SARAH 2012

  • heypiasano

    In early post someone mentioned the Czar of Shut down, however, I don’t think Sarah will have any Czars whats so ever, but she will have the one person she trusts the must Todd. 

    Though Todd is quite and laid back, he is very formidable and determined. If Government Angencies  see Todd taking interesting them, then they will know they are on the chopping block!

  • wodiej

    If more public officials had the ethics, integrity, courage and character that Gov. Palin has and just do the right thing, then they wouldn’t need to line their pockets w crony money to get re-elected.  As Gov. Palin said "leadership" starts at the top.  It’s like an adult around children.  You as an adult are the role model.  Good or bad, those kids are going to emulate your behavior.   You are the leader.  Lead by example. 

    If Gov. Palin wins the nomination, you will see the war between good and evil.  You will see people who will pout, withhold support, insult, belittle, demonize and diminish the candidate if it is not who they wanted in the GOP.  You will see who people really are and if they really have integrity or if they are just small people.  When the cloak is off, then you are going to get an eye opener and going forward will need to make a choice. 

    Are you going to continue to read blogs, go to movies, listen to music, listen to talk radio and watch shows that support this abhorrent behavior or will you support what is right and tune it out?

    As Patrick Henry said "Is
    life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of
    chains and slavery?
    Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but
    as for me, give me
    liberty or give me death"  So you ask yourself if the pleasure you get from watching a program or the people participating in the program  who engage in unethical, dishonest behavior or or listen to music lyrics that are unhealthy and negative is worth giving up your freedom for.  Take your pick-you can’t have it both ways.  

  • Quang Do

    I.Mitt Romney supports ‘man caused global warming’ and was endorsed by Al Gore.
    Rick Perry worked for Al Gore.
    ===> Perry = Romney
    Rick Perry Was A Democrat & Al Gore’s Campaign Texas Chairman (1988 failed presidential bid).
    ===>This means Perry did NOT vote for Ronald Reagan.
    ===>Perry is NOT a ‘Reagan Conservative.’
    How often do you hear Perry/Romney praising Ronald Reagan?
    ===>Romney/Perry HATED ‘conservative values/principles’ that Ronald Reagan STOOD for.

  • nkthgreek

    Lobbyists will need to look for different careers during the Palin administration. I understand newspapers are looking for sales people.

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