Commentary: Gov. Sanford and 'savior-based' economics

February 13, 2009 

This editorial appeared in The Myrtle Beach Sun.

Gov. Mark Sanford gained national notoriety recently with his comment on CNN that America is headed toward a "savior-based economy." In reaction to the stimulus package under construction in Congress, the governor said a better approach to restoring long-term growth would be to overhaul the nation's economic fundamentals with a regime of low taxes and reduced federal spending.

"A problem that was created with building up too much debt will not be solved with yet more debt," Sanford told moderator John King.

The problem is that Sanford himself is no stranger to "savior-based" economics. The "savior" in question was former President George W. Bush.

In May 2003, just as the S.C. legislative session was ending, Bush signed a tax-cut bill that included – courtesy of the free-spending Republican Congress – a $20 billion appropriation to the states. South Carolina's share of the goodies was $265 million.

The S.C. Republican powers-that-be promptly devoted $220 million of that money to shoring up the fiscal 2004 S.C. Medicaid health care plan. Then, Sanford and the legislative leadership "found" another $44.6 million for state aid to schools, allowing them to beef up base state-aid-per-pupil spending for the following fiscal year from $1,701 to $1,777.

Both Sanford and then-House Speaker David Wilkins, R-Greenville, took credit for this last-minute boost to public school spending – though they didn't mention where the money had come from. The S.C. Education Association, with some shrewd forensic accounting, deduced that the money had come from the leftover debt-financed federal largesse. Several Horry County legislators subsequently confirmed this was the source of the school-aid money.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Myrtle Beach Sun.

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