Nick Gillespie Responds, Admits Numbers He Used Don’t Match State Records

Nick Gillespie has written a response to the piece I wrote taking on the article he wrote earlier this week for The Daily Beast. In the response, he wrote:

The thrust of the piece was that, despite recent comments by the former Alaska governor and Republican vice-presidential candidate that were favorable toward libertarian ideas, Palin is not particularly libertarian. With particular reference to the speech she gave at last weekend’s “Road to Majority” gathering of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, I argued that she is more of a populist than anything like a libertarian.

Again, I’m sorry, but who is he to make that call? What’s up with the “exclusive club” mentality? As someone who identifies with both conservatives and libertarians, I would take offense if one or the other implied I’m not welcome to stand with them on certain issues because I’m not pure enough. I’ve argued with both for different reasons, but I refuse to stop thinking for myself and walk lockstep with any political group.

As I wrote in the last Gillespie piece, Governor Palin has always had a libertarian streak. Those of us who helped document her record, understand that very well. Gillespie may want to call it “populism,” but Barack Obama was also considered a “populist” by many, and I don’t see where he and Governor Palin line up anywhere ideologically. Is she a populist? To some degree, but that’s because her ideology resonates with the people, not because she’s offering the people services at the expense of taxpayers. This is really just an argument over semantics at this point.

Gillespie continues:

On social issues, after all, she’s against marriage equality and pot legalization, and in her recent remarks seemed dead-set against letting more immigrants legally enter the country.

Did she say she was against allowing any more legal immigrants to enter the country during that speech? No, she didn’t say that at all. She specifically mentioned (at the 19:00 mark) those who’s “very first act on our soil is to break the law.” Those aren’t legal immigrants, according to the law.

And yes, Governor Palin is for traditional marriage, but she isn’t against allowing gay couples to receive the same benefits as straight couples. As I noted in the first piece, she has walked the walk on that one. And regarding marijuana legalization, no, she isn’t for legalizing pot. But she also isn’t for allocating police resources to seek out small-time users, as she stated in this interview with Judge Napolitano. These aren’t exactly hard-line views that many social conservatives hold. And like I also stated in the last piece, Governor Palin isn’t a large “L” Libertarian either. She’s a conservative reformer, who has always had a libertarian streak. Libertarians won’t always agree with her, and neither will some social conservatives.

He continues:

Interestingly, Palin voiced support for NSA leaker Edward Snowden and reluctance to enter Syria, but did so in a way that seemed more partisan than principled.

Partisan? Is Edward Snowden a partisan figure? Didn’t John Boehner and Michele Bachmann both call him a “traitor?” They’re both republicans. And last time I checked, John McCain, Mr. ‘Let’s Go to War in Syria!’ himself, was also still a republican. How can her stance on either be partisan? As she told Eric Bolling this morning:

“Snowden is not the problem, the problem is government violating our fourth amendment rights”

That is a principled stance, not partisanship. The Bill of Rights applies to everyone.

Gillespie then goes on to note some of his favorite politicians again, guys I still like. But one thing in that paragraph caught my eye. He wrote:

They, along with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) aren’t down-the-line libertarians but they are not only smart, youthful, and self-evidently electable, they favor decentralizing power and cutting spending.

Governor Palin has always been for decentralizing power. Look up her speeches throughout the years, and you will find many references on this subject. Check out her record as governor. She wanted nothing to do with having “more strings attached” from her state to D.C. This is a key part of why I have always considered Governor Palin to be libertarian-leaning.

The response continues:

In my article, I questioned Palin’s dedication to reducing government spending, citing a 2010 article for Reason in which I had written that

As a former governor of a state that receives about $14,000 in federal money per resident (only the District of Columbia gets more) and whose total spending increased 16 percent between 2007 and 2009, she is not very credible as a fiscal conservative.

That figure, along with the larger points of my Beast piece, elicited a response from Stacy Drake of titled, “Nick Gillespie’s Dishonest Daily Beast Article Discredits Him.” Labeling me a “hater” whose “disdain” for Palin links me to “a long list of leftwingers and BIG government republican’s [sic],” she particularly took issue with my characterization of Palin’s spending as governor.

When Gillespie first published this response, he had referred to me as “he” a couple of times. He has since changed my gender in his piece to reflect reality after being informed by my friend Ginny, but the fact that he got it wrong the first time should indicate that perhaps it would behoove him to pay better attention to detail in the future. He did apologize to me on Twitter for the mistake, and I did accept the apology.

He ends with this (emphasis):

In fact, she argues, “Between 2007 and 2010, Governor Palin cut state spending in Alaska by 9.5%” (emphasis in original). She then links to a 2009 post at Conservatives4Palin that says the following:

Governor Murkowski’s last budget FY2007: $11,697,400,000

Governor Palin’s latest budget FY2010: $10,570,000,000

Total reduction in spending between 2007 and 2010: a whopping 9.5% or $1,127,400,000

Via Twitter, I sent Drake a link to this chart I generated at the site US Government Spending, which shows total spending by state and local governments in Alaska rising from $11.66 billion in 2007 to $14.52 billion in 2009 (in nominal dollars). Those figures are in turn based on Census data showing that state-only spending in Alaska rose from $9.2 billion in FY2007 to $10 billion in FY2008 to $11 billion in FY2009 to $11 billion again in FY2010. That comes to roughly a 20 percent increase in spending between 2007 and 2009 (my original benchmark in my 2010 story) and again in 2010 itself (for a chart of that, go here).

For an alternative accounting of spending in Alaska, I went to the state’s OMB archives. There I found that in FY2007, total authorization to spend (including permanent fund) was $11.7 billion (line 47). In FY 2008, which would have been Palin’s first budget, the figure came to $11.5 billion (line 54). In FY2009, total authorization to spend came to $12.9 billion (line 53). In FY2010, that figure dropped to $10.6 billion (line 57). That’s about a 10 percent decrease in spending between 2007 and 2010.

I don’t know what explains the difference between the Census data and the Alaska data, which show radically different results; I am adding a note about the disparity to the article. But Alaska’s data shows a sharp decline in spending. Had Palin finished a full term instead of dropping out with 18 months to go, we’d have a better sense of whether the 2010 number was the beginning of an effort to consistently drive down spending over time.

He stated that he doesn’t know “what explains the difference between the Census data and the Alaska data,” but the answer lies in the third paragraph from the end, where he wrote (emphasis):

I sent Drake a link to this chart I generated at the site US Government Spending, which shows total spending by state and local governments

Notice the word “governments” is plural. This is what I wrote in the update of my first post. The data from that website he used is adding state AND local spending to gather their results. The local spending had nothing to do with Governor Palin. From the update in my first Gillespie post:

The data Gillespie used is labeled “State & Local” so it may be that the numbers he used reflect state spending plus local. As in city, town, and borough.

I am happy however, that he admitted the numbers he originally used don’t match Alaska State records. Because they don’t, and to suggest otherwise would be a lie. And let’s face it, that’s something many of Governor Palin’s detractors would have suggested anyway regardless of what the records indicate.

Now, he notes that he is adding a line about the discrepancy to the original article. That’s good. I asked him via Twitter if he plans to add that same line to the version he posted over at The Daily Beast. As of now, only the version at Reason has the added line about the figures from his source not matching state records, but he stated to me that he put in a request to The Daily Beast to have the line added to that piece as well, so we’ll see if they oblige him on that.

One of the most telling things about his response was in the last sentence. He went and pulled the “quitter” meme out of his back pocket because he had essentially lost the budget debate. Of course, he didn’t offer his readers any insight into what led up to her resignation, but I wouldn’t expect him to after everything else. It was a cheap shot that added nothing to the debate.

The bottom line here is that Nick Gillespie is free to like or not like whoever he wishes. There is nothing wrong with that. He’s free to promote politicians he agrees with and trusts, and warn his readers against those he doesn’t. To each their own. But the one thing he can’t do is try to rewrite Governor Palin’s record (whether he genuinely believed the numbers he first reported or not) and not expect to hear from us about it in return. Let the record stand, Governor Palin is, was, and will always be a fiscal hawk who takes the responsibility of budgeting taxpayer supplied revenue very seriously.



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