Imagine America as Wasilla

10/21/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

While the initial buzz may be fading about Sarah Palin, her position as potential presidential successor still looms. Loyal Republicans tout her record as an executive as evidence that she is ready to lead our country if necessary.

To test this idea, what if we took Sarah Palin's financial track record from six years as the chief executive of Wasilla (her longest executive stint) and scaled that up to the size of America as a whole? This would give us a sense for how America might look after six years if Palin were given the opportunity to make the same kind of decisions for the country as she did for Wasilla.

First off, Palin inherited a city with zero debt and left with $18.6M in debt. That's $3000 for each of the 6000 residents of the town. As President of the United States, she would be starting with a sizable debt already, but we could assume that her previous experience would incline her to add an additional $900 billion in red ink ($3000 for each of our 300 million citizens) to our national debt. That's about 10% of the total debt we've accumulated in 230 years as a nation -- an impressive accomplishment for a "fiscal conservative!"

In Wasilla, Palin increased the size of the city budget during her term by 33%. Scale that up and we might expect to see our annual federal budget balloon from $2.9 trillion to $3.9 trillion during her watch. An extra trillion dollars in the yearly budget would undoubtedly allow us to do some breathtaking new things -- perhaps a public works programs that builds the world's greatest chain of sports complexes?

Of course, there's the pesky problem of where to get the extra trillion each year. Some of it Palin could simply borrow from future generations as part of her $900B in red ink. But she'd clearly need to raise more as well. Fortunately, Palin demonstrated exceptional skill in getting outsiders to fund projects in Wasilla. During her time as mayor, she got the rest of us American taxpayers to subsidize $27M of infrastructure improvements for her town by successfully lobbying for federal earmarks (commonly known as "pork").

Translate that to the federal level and we'd expect huntress Palin to bag some $4000 in pork for each American citizen from outside sources to fund our internal needs. This would be an unprecedented feat, but undoubtedly the European Union, International Money Fund, and World Bank would be willing to hand over the parallel $1.2 trillion dollars into the begging bowl of our intrepid American President. She could bill it as a reverse Marshall Plan to resurrect America from the financial ashes of the Bush Era.

Alas, even that impressive feat of pork hunting would not cover the full spending tab, so Palin would need to raise some taxes. Rather than targeting the wealthy (whose campaign donations might then be in jeopardy), Palin could implement a federal sales tax to parallel her Wasilla decision to raise their sales tax by 25%. That way, she could make sure not to annoy any billionaires by making them shoulder a higher percentage of the new spending load. We would all truly be in it together.

If there were still budget gaps, Palin could always sell off federal assets at discount prices to her campaign backers, as she did with the much-touted governor's jet, which did not actually sell on eBay but ended up in the hands of one of her campaign backers at a $600,000 loss to the state. Some of our national parks would be good candidates to sell at fire sale prices to developers who contribute to the McCain-Palin ticket. Do I hear $50 million for Yellowstone?

Perhaps the most exciting innovation of a Palin presidency could be a makeover of the White House (which really is due for a new look). While in Wasilla, Palin spent $50K in unauthorized funds, drawn from a highway fund, to accomplish her desired makeover of the mayor's office when she entered office. If she were to do the same thing for America as a whole, that would give her a truly impressive $2.2 billion dollar budget to make over the White House, bringing it into the 21st century after decades of looking so 18th century.

America could indeed be transformed by six years of the demonstrated successes of Wasilla's most famous executive.

For a list of Palin numbers and facts, with references for all the above numbers, see:

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