A slew of conservative commentators took aim this week at Sarah Palin for her acceptance of a $1.2 million film tax credit that she herself signed into law in Alaska for the production of the TLC reality show “Sarah Palin’s Alaska.”
The Tax Foundation, for example, pointed out in a short blog post that accepting this substantial government subsidy (worth about a third of the production costs) may not square with Palin’s own small-government ideology.
Timothy Carney went further in the conservative Washington Examiner, saying that “Palin's views on the proper role of government becomes more flexible as it comes closer to her own interests.”
Jim Geraghty, a commentator for the conservative National Review added that there is little doubt that there is a contradiction between supporting government funding for reality shows while at the same time advocating against funding of PBS, NPR, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
For her part, Palin argued in a response posted in full on the conservative Daily Caller that there was no conflict of interest because she had no idea when signing the legislation that she would benefit from it years later. She added that the subsidy does not contradict her small government philosophy because she has apparently always argued that “government can play an appropriate role in incentivizing business,” instead of “bureaucrats burdening businesses and picking winners and losers.”
As the Tax Foundation, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and others have pointed out, however, film tax credits are both a horrible way of "incentivizing business," and a perfect example of government picking the film industry as a winner, while making most other taxpayers losers by default.
Furthermore, Palin's decision to enact the film tax credit in the first place shows how out of whack her priorities were as the Governor of Alaska. Perhaps the $1.2 million dollars from the film tax credit she just received could have been better spent restoring the $1.1 million in cuts to emergency programs serving troubled youths that she also made in 2008, for example.