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Disappointing News From Mark Sanford

by @ 11:46 am on February 19, 2009. Filed under Mark Sanford, Politics, Republicans

South Carolina’s Governor, who has been at the forefront of those arguing against federal bailouts from the beginning. He’s spoke out against the TARP bailout, the auto bailout, and, most recently, President Obama’s stimulus package. Today, though, he said that he will accept whatever money the new law brings to his state:

WASHINGTON (AP) – South Carolina’s Republican governor says his state will accept money from President Barack Obama’s stimulus plan even though he is ideologically opposed to it.

Gov. Mark Sanford says being against the plan “doesn’t preclude taking the money.”

Sanford said Thursday on CBS'”The Early Show” that he took a stand against the president’s economic plan because it’s “a bad idea.” But he says ultimately he represents the interests of the almost 5 million people of his state, and he will look over the plan and decide which parts would help South Carolina.

Sanford is among a number of Republican Governors who have expressed doubts about the plan:

(CBS/AP) A handful of Republican governors are considering turning down some money from the federal stimulus package, a move opponents say puts conservative ideology ahead of the needs of constituents struggling with record foreclosures and soaring unemployment.

Though none has outright rejected the money available for education, health care and infrastructure, the governors of Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alaska, South Carolina and Idaho have all questioned whether the $787 billion bill signed into law this week will even help the economy.

“My concern is there’s going to be commitments attached to it that are a mile long,” said Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who considered rejecting some of the money but decided Wednesday to accept it. “We need the freedom to pick and choose. And we need the freedom to say ‘No thanks.”‘

The problem that each of these Governor’s face, though, and the one that no doubt influenced Sanford’s decision, is that the stimulus law contains language that takes the decision out of their hands:

[G]overnors who reject some of the stimulus aid may find themselves overridden by their own legislatures because of language Clyburn included in the bill that allows lawmakers to accept the federal money even if their governors object.

He inserted the provision based on the early and vocal opposition to the stimulus plan by South Carolina’s Republican governor, Mark Sanford. But it also means governors like Sanford and Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal – a GOP up-and-comer often mentioned as a potential 2012 presidential candidate – can burnish their conservative credentials, knowing all the while that their legislatures can accept the money anyway.

Michelle Malkin called it the Punish Mark Sanford Amendment, and here’s what it says:

SEC. 1607. (a) CERTIFICATION BY GOVERNOR — Not later than 45 days after the date of enactment of this Act, for funds provided to any State or agency thereof, the Governor of the State shall certify that: 1) the State request and use funds provided by this Act , and; 2) funds be used to create jobs and promote economic growth.

(b) ACCEPTANCE BY STATE LEGISLATURE — If funds provided to any State in any division of this Act are not accepted for use by the Governor, then acceptance by the State legislature, by means of the adoption of a concurrent resolution, shall be sufficient to provide funding to such State

While both the South Carolina House and Senate are under Republican control, it’s difficult to believe that state legislators would turn down billions of dollars of federal money when they have an election staring them in the face in two years. So, even if Sanford had said no it probably would’ve had no impact.

Nonetheless, I still wish he would’ve said no because it would have been a strong signal that there is someone in the Republican Party that believes in fiscal conservatism, federalism, and limited government. He’s far from perfect, but Sanford strikes me as better than most of what we’ve gotten from the GOP over the past decade or more.

Or, at least that’s what I used to think.

2 Responses to “Disappointing News From Mark Sanford”

  1. Resident of Upstate SC says:

    I agree with Governor Sanford.

    The Porkulus is a bad idea. But we in South Carolina will have to pay for it whether we take the money or not.

    So we should take it.

  2. anonymous says:

    Governor Schwarzenegger will take the money that Governor Sanford turned down.

    Schwarzenegger – Stimulus Package Is Terrific

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