Thursday, March 12, 2009

WaPost Hit Job on South Carolina Governor

The Washington Post this morning performs a superb hit-job on South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, the gist of the story being "this right wing ideologue fought the stimulus bill, and now he's trying to refuse to take the money--even while his state suffers worse than almost any other under the weight of the recession." Sanford is thought by many to be a contender for the 2012 Republican Presidential nomination so his actions have particular significance, especially to the echo chamber that is the fawning Obamedia. Perhaps my words will be just as skewed in the opposite direction, as I am a huge fan of Sanford's. But then again, I don't portray myself as balanced.

With respect to the stimulus, Sanford raised many of the same questions about the level of spending and the targets of the spending that Republicans and moderate Democrats raised. He is the Chairman of the Republican Governors Association, and so served as a rallying point for the 17 of 22 Republican Governors who did not support the stimulus.

What interests me is that Amy Goldstein did not seek to address WHY Governor Sanford would try to turn this money down (actually, he wants to use it to retire state debt; barring that, he'll try to turn it down). Clearly the only reason is that he is an evil ideologue intent on scoring political points with his base--because there can be no other logical reason. But what if there were? What if the $700M came with strings attached to it, strings that changed the formula and standards against which people in the State of South Carolina became eligible for unemployment? For example, part-time workers becoming eligible for unemployment? At some point, the federal money would go away, leaving South Carolina with the bill to fund a level of benefits that were not contemplated by the Governor or its legislature.

Some say Sanford is being hypocritical, crowing against the stimulus and then taking 90% of it for his people. I see no inconsistency here; there was a legitimate policy debate going on, and his voice was a strong one in opposition. The bill passed, and his citizens tax dollars are going to pay for it--so they should also benefit.

Goldstein casually refers to a "spat" the Governor had with the State's Economic Security Commission, as if his refusal of the money is somehow related to a personal vendetta. Again, even cursory research into the "spat" would have revealed considerable evidence of shabby/non-existent record-keeping and a thoroughly unprofessionally run bureau of state government that was not held accountable (under South Carolina's archaic state constitution) to anyone. She might have found that the State Economic Security Commissioner asked the Governor to request $146M in aid from the feds in early January of 2009, only to come back 3 weeks later and ask for $316M--all from the head of a state agency REFUSING to undergo a state directed audit of its operations.

It would be interesting for Ms. Goldstein and the Washington Post to head up to, oh, say--Michigan--and see if they could scare up one or two people out of work, community service organizations straining under the weight of the increased need, folks who had to turn to community food banks. Don't hold your breath though, because the Governor of Michigan is an Obama supporter, a Democratic Party darling, and a big fan of the stimulus (and the automaker bailout) because SHE CARES.


Goldwater's Ghost said...

"At some point, the federal money would go away, leaving South Carolina with the bill..."

This is the point - it's not going away. Once the democrats hook the schoolyard kids on their brand of horse, they've got customers for life.

Anonymous said...

Boy, did you read some of those comments on that article? I was wincing with the anger expressed.

I was most struck by the picture accompanying the article. I'm sure James Clyburn would scream I'm a racist for saying this, but no amount of stimulus is going to truly change the lives of those people. They'll still be looking for their government cheese.

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