Opinion Brief

Was Sarah Palin's reality TV show government-subsidized?

Critics crow over the revelation that "Sarah Palin's Alaska" took advantage of state tax credits that Palin herself created

Self-styled Tea Party queen Sarah Palin is probably the last person you'd expect to line up for a government handout. But it has emerged that her reality TV show, "Sarah Palin's Alaska," received a $1.2 million subsidy from the state, covering almost a third of the show's Alaskan production costs. The state subsidy was signed into law by Palin herself in 2008. Could the fact that Palin took a chunk of taxpayer money to fund her reality TV show come back to bite her if she runs for president next year?

Yes. This is just more evidence of Palin's self-interest: There's a phrase for this in Washington, says Timothy P. Carney at The Washington Examiner: "Feathering your nest." It's funny how, "like many politicians," Palin's view on what government should and shouldn't do "becomes more flexible as it comes closer to her own interests.""Sarah Palin's show receives filmmaking subsidy she created"

Hey, the tax break has done great things for Alaska: I signed that bill years before I ever imagined I would film a TV series in Alaska, responds Sarah Palin on her Facebook page. And it was the production company, not me, that benefited from the tax break. Besides, Alaska's tax credit program —"an effective way to incentivize a new industry that would diversify our economy" — is indeed consistent with "my position on the proper role of government." "Setting the record straight on state's film production tax credit"

Still, this looks bad for an advocate of limited government: OK, Palin did not benefit from this subsidy herself, says Jim Geraghty at the National Review, but it will hurt her reputation as a "crusader for small government" to be seen picking up a "seven-figure paycheck" from a show that did. I doubt you'd find many Tea Party leaders who believe governments should "be in the business of subsidizing television programs." Just look at what they're saying about PBS and NPR."Uh-Oh: The problematic tax breaks of 'Sarah Palin's Alaska'"

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