Carl Gatto alongside federal highway project in Wasilla, Alaska
Backed by a blue row of saw-toothed mountain peaks, the Republican state lawmaker Carl Gatto finds himself on a fine roll.
Roll it back, he says, roll back this entire socialistic experiment in federal hegemony. Give us control of our land, let us drill and mine, and please don’t let a few belugas get in the way of a perfectly good bridge.
“I’ve introduced legislation to roll back the federal government,” he says. “They don’t have solutions; they just have taxes.”
And what of the federal stimulus, from which Alaska receives the most money per capita in the nation? Would he reject it?
Mr. Gatto, 72 and wiry, smiles and shakes his head: “I’ll give the federal government credit: they sure give us a ton of money. For every $1 we give them in taxes for highways, they give us back $5.76.”
He points to a new federally financed highway, stretching toward distant spruce trees. “Man, beautiful, right?”
Alaskans tend to live with their contradictions in these recessionary times. No place benefits more from federal largess than this state, where the Republican governor decries “intrusive” federal policies, officials sue to overturn the health care legislation and Senator Lisa Murkowski, a Republican, voted against the stimulus bill…
Alaska has budget woes, and, more perilously, oil production is slumping. But its problems are not mortal; the ax falls on new police headquarters and replacement Zamboni blades rather than on teachers and libraries. The state avoided the unemployment devastation visited on the Lower 48 in part because federal dollars support a third of Alaskan jobs, according to a university study.
RTFA. It should surprise no one.
Alaska is the northern terminus of the Bible Belt – where populism and greed feed off ignorant voters to maintain a veritable army of freeloaders at the federal tax trough.