Jake Tapper has a post up about an Obama appearance today in which Obama discussed Sarah Palin's fondness for federal earmarks in her days as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska. Among other facts he provides, Tapper quotes an LA Times article that between 2000-2003, Mayor Palin secured $11.9 million in federal earmarks, plus an additional $15 million in regional rail federal funds (some of the earmarks were secured using a lobbyist, who was a former aide to indicted Sen. Ted Stevens and whom Mayor Palin hired).
Tapper notes that Obama has requested earmarks in the amount of $931.3 million in his nearly four years in the Senate (McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds spins as a million dollars per "working day" since Obama has been in the Senate).
Sounds like a lot, right? Obama asked for (I don't know what he actually got, by the way) nearly a billion bucks, while Sarah Palin got just $11.9 mil, or $26.9 mil, depending on how you count that bonus $15 million.
Ok, well, as long as we're going to make these silly comparisons, let's at least do them in a meaningful way. The population of Wasilla has grown a lot since Mayor Palin ran the city, but let's use the city's current population estimate of 7,025. Meanwhile, the 2005 population of Illinois is estimated at 12,875,035 (that's a low estimate for the period that Obama has been in the Senate, since the population is growing).
So let's do some easy calculations, taking Mayor Palin's received earmarks first:
- $11.9 million divided by 7,025 = $1,694 per person over four years
- $26.9 million divided by 7,025 = $3,829 per person over four years
Now let's consider Senator Obama's requests:
- $931.3 million divided by12,875,035 = $72 per person over three years and eight months, which works out to $79 per person over four years
Bottom line: Mayor Palin's received earmarks between 2000-03 were between 21 and 48 times the size of Senator Obama's requested earmarks between 2005-08 once you control for population and the period in office.
Update: I should note, adjusting for inflation would make the Mayor Palin-Senator Obama earmark ratio look even worse for the Mayor, since her earmarks came earlier than his. I haven't adjusted for inflation because the comparison is already so stark.