This is a rush transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," March 20, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
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LAURA INGRAHAM, GUEST HOST: In the "Personal Story" segment tonight: Sarah Palin says thanks, but no thanks to some of the stimulus money the feds want to send to Alaska.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. SARAH PALIN, R-ALASKA: In reviewing what the feds call a stimulus package, what we have done is ask these questions: What is in the best interest of Alaskans? And will we charter out our own course, or will Washington engineer it for us? I can't attest to every fund that's being offered the state in the stimulus package will be used to create jobs and stimulate the economy, so I'm requesting only those things that I know will.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
INGRAHAM: She's not the only governor to reject a portion of the funds, but now she's coming under fire for the move. With us now is Ken Vogel, a senior reporter for Politico.com.
And Ken, I'm looking at the numbers here of these presidential hopefuls — well, probably they'll be presidential hopefuls — who have rejected some part of this stimulus funding. She's rejected $288 million. Rick Perry, $555 million. Barbour, $56 million, Haley Barbour, Bob Riley, $100 million. Mark Sanford today said thanks but no thanks to $700 million. And Bobby Jindal, $100 million in unemployment. Now, is this just a money game at this point? I mean, "I can give up more than you can give up."
KEN VOGEL, POLITICO.COM: Well, certainly there's an element of that. Let's not forget here, Laura, that the state legislatures in all these states can go right around the governor and request this funding directly, and we're probably going to see a lot of that.
However, as you know, Laura, this is something, the stimulus package, that is very unpopular with a certain sort of element of fiscal conservatives who see it as reckless deficit spending. And so these governors' stands are probably going to be seen by many folks as principled stands against reckless spending and could help them in the jockeying for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. A lot of those folks that you just mentioned are considered to be on the short list in eyeing that nomination.
INGRAHAM: Now, Ken, tell us about Congressman James Clyburn's role in all of this, because you mentioned that provision that allows state legislatures to go around the heads of the governors who say, "Look, this isn't stimulative," or "I want to use this," as Mark Sanford said, "I want to use this to pay down our state's debt." The Obama White House said no, no, no. Orszag said, "No, you can't use that to pay down debt." That's not in our definition of how you should spend this. Now come on, I mean, this is Clyburn did what for what reason?
VOGEL: Well, there's a history here between Clyburn and Mark Sanford, the governor of South Carolina where, of course, Clyburn represents. They don't like each other. And Clyburn knew because Sanford was signaling that Sanford was going to try to use this stimulus money to pay down the debt, something that does resonate with a lot of fiscal conservatives. And Clyburn said, "No, no, no. You're going to use it like we say you're going to use it, and that is to pump into the economy, stimulate it, expand unemployment insurance." And so he inserted this provision in the bill that a lot of state legislators right now are probably looking at it and saying, "I don't have to live with the decision that my governor may make to reject some portion of this stimulus funding."
INGRAHAM: Now, Ken, wasn't there some accusations that, well, you don't care about African-American people because you don't think this money should be spent? I heard that that was thrown around, too.
VOGEL: Yes, there was a little bit of that, and probably because some of this stuff is for expanding unemployment insurance. But also, there are a number of sort of what could be deemed as sort of liberal priorities that this money is going to be spent for, including energy efficiency…
VOGEL: …weatherization, stuff like conservation block grant. Stuff like that. So, you know, it makes sense for a Sanford or for a Jindal or for a Palin to come out and oppose some of this. But hey, let's not forget Alaska is the top per capita recipient of federal funding, so it does ring kind of hollow to an extent from Palin at least.
INGRAHAM: Well, I can say that Rick Perry is still in the lead. He gave up $550 million, so for whatever that's worth.
It's great to see you, Ken. Thanks for being with us.
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