By Dave Donaldson
The major issue to be argued in this year’s U-S Senate race is how the winner of the General Election will deal with the federal government’s influence on the state’s economy.
Democrat Scott McAdams and Republican, Tea Party candidate Joe Miller held their first formal debate today before the Juneau Chamber of Commerce. And McAdams came out on the attack. During his opening remarks, he read from a national pledge the Citizen’s Council Against Government Waste that he said Miller signed promising he would not seek earmarks that would serve only local needs. But McAdams argued that the pledge didn’t fit in with his experiences and needs as Mayor of Sitka.
We’re a young state. As a matter of equal footing, we deserve every dollar of our fair share brought into this economy. One-third of the state’s economy is federal spending. As we continue to responsibly develop our natural resources, we will bring our state into maturity. But to say No to earmarks now is a threat to Alaska.
Miller, in his defense, says Alaska is going to experience a downturn in federal money – whether it’s the result of national policies or the national economy. He says the state must be prepared by getting control over its own land and resources before the nation gets to what he calls “the fiscal brink.”
We enjoy the style of life – the lifestyle that we have. We enjoy the economic level of activity we have in this state. We must prepare. We have to. And it is wholly irresponsible to, again, stick your head in the sand and vote along the lines of what both parties in Congress have done and drive us further into fiscal insanity.
Miller continued his arguments for getting control of the state’s resources, pointing out the costs and effects of having to meet federal controls in building roads, or mines, or even exporting natural gas. And he repeated later that the federal money will stop –either through what he referred to as bankruptcy or through congressional decisions to restrain spending. At that point, he went back to his basic argument – Alaska must have control of its resources.
Overall, from the Democratic Party’s perspective, Development is a dirty word. The resources there are not seen to be used, but to be conserved as a national park. In fact, the national Democrats essentially see this state as one huge national park. That is not the future for this state. It cannot be the future of this state. We’ve got to develop those resources and the human resources that we have here in this state to move ourselves forward. And we’ve got to have vision – we can’t be irresponsible in our approach.
McAdams continued his point that federal investment is important to Alaska – and that the Congressional delegation is critical in helping the state have a positive economic future. .
No one understands our communities needs better than our local elected leaders, and then our delegation. Don Young will tell you this. Ted Stevens would have told you this. I think even Lisa Murkowski would share this view. So if we imbed, if we cede our ability to ask for the needs that we understand in the local community to an agency, we have removed the decision-making power to the mayor’s desk to the Secretary’s desk in Washington D-C. I think that is wrong.
The debate covered a variety of issues. But the next one – scheduled in Fairbanks in mid-October – might be different, depending on whether incumbent Senator Lisa Murkowski rejoins the race. McAdams said he would welcome her.