In recent days, both Fox News and the Associated Press have called out the McCain campaign for its hypocritical criticism of Sen Barack Obama’s (D-IL) tax plan. Both Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) have referred to Obama as the “Redistributor in Chief” or “Barack the Wealth Spreader.” Back in Alaska, however, Palin strengthened the state’s redistributive policies, instituting a windfall profits tax to ensure that Alaskans got their “equitable” share of oil companies’ profits.
“This is not redistribution in the sense of you take money away from one guy who’s working real hard, and give it away to someone who’s not working at all.”
In fact, that is exactly what Alaska’s Permanent Fund dividend payments do. Each year since 1976, “[a]t least 25 percent of all mineral lease rentals, royalties, royalty sales proceeds, federal mineral revenue-sharing payments and bonuses” taken in by the state — predominantly from the oil industry — are “placed in a permanent fund.” A portion of that fund’s annual earnings are “transferred to the State’s dividend fund,” which is then divided among Alaskans in the form of yearly dividend checks.
As Sandy Parr at the Alaska Department of Revenue confirmed to ThinkProgress, every resident of Alaska, even “someone who’s not working at all,” is eligible for a dividend payment — this year totaling $3,269.
Palin herself recently explained the dividend program to the New Yorker, saying:
And Alaska—we’re set up, unlike other states in the union, where it’s collectively Alaskans own the resources. So we share in the wealth when the development of these resources occurs. … It’s to maximize benefits for Alaskans, not an individual company, not some multinational somewhere, but for Alaskans.
By Goldfarb’s own definition, Palin is a “Wealth Spreader.”