Valerie’s story on Sanford, stimulus

Somehow I missed, until a release from Jim Clyburn's office, the story that our own Valerie Bauerlein co-wrote in The Wall Street Journal Saturday about Mark Sanford and the stimulus.

Headlined "GOP Governor Sees Danger in States Accepting Stimulus Money," it mostly said what we already knew here in Columbia about the governor's posturing for his national fan club at the expense of South Carolina. But a small detail in the story jumped out at me. It didn't tell me anything new, but it grabbed me nonetheless:

    When the fate of the stimulus bill was still uncertain last week, Mr. Sanford traveled to Washington on Feb. 4 to ask Republican senators to fight it. Most Washington Republicans, in the House as well as the Senate, lined up against the initiative, drawing a sharp distinction with Democrats — though three moderate Republicans joined with all 58 Democrats to propel the recovery package out of the Senate.
    Other Republican governors have been more favorable toward the plan. Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, for example, broke with party leaders by stumping for the proposal with Mr. Obama in Fort Myers on Monday.

Did it hit you, too? I'm talking about this part: "Mr. Sanford traveled to Washington on Feb. 4 to ask Republican senators to fight it…"

We're talking about a guy who, even if you go by HIS account, hasn't been able to find a minute since 2003 to meet with the Employment Security Commission of his own state (he can threaten to fire them, but he can't sit down and talk with them). We're talking about a guy who is notorious for not working with lawmakers of his own party, who meet one floor above his office — even though he CAN find time to carry piglets up there so they can poop all over the nice new carpet.

This same guy finds time to run up to Washington and lobby Republicans up THERE to do what they were going to do anyway, so he can posture for the WSJ as though he had something to do with it.

Meanwhile, back home, he's forcing all sorts of people to go to all kinds of lengths to prepare to work around him because of his sorta, kinda threat to be an obstacle (as Valerie puts it, he's being "coy" about it) to stimulus funds coming to South Carolina, which is ALSO all about him and his posturing.

Of course Valerie reminds us at the end of just how influential Mark Sanford is with Republicans:

But even in Republican-led South Carolina, Mr. Sanford may have difficulty holding the line. Leaders of the GOP-controlled state legislature concede Mr. Sanford's point, but would want to at least accept the $480 million for roads, bridges and other infrastructure the state is eligible for.

Of course they would. That's because they care about South Carolina more than they care about ideological posturing.

29 thoughts on “Valerie’s story on Sanford, stimulus

  1. Greg Flowers

    Do you remember the almost messianic tones of the editorials of this newspaper (and, I believe, this editorial page editor) in 2002 urging the election of this Governor (you may want to post a few of those). I do not recall seeing such fervent enthusiasm before or since. Nor have I seen such virulent, dare I say, hatred towards the same man from the same source over the past few years. Most amazing to me has been his consistency, a real case of what you see is what you get. What led to your early support and recent lack thereof?

  2. SC Southpaw

    The Governor is going to be held accountable for his employment record at some point. Since he has been running the state, unemployment has gone up – not down. If the Dems cannot make it stick – I assure you one of his enterprising opponents will. He will have to answer to the voters eventually for his results – not the games he plays to distact everyone from the truth.

  3. Doug Ross

    The Republican Senators listen to Sanford. The ESC doesn’t. If he had some authority over them, maybe he would have a reason to meet.

  4. martin

    Obviously, Mark thinks he’s too good to deal with our riff raff. I think it really is just as simple as that. State government is beneath him.

  5. Karen McLeod

    Sanford and Palin both are trying for leadership in the GOP. This fact should tell any sane person about both heart and mind of that party.

  6. Lee Muller

    The governor of Louisiana says they don’t want the $4 billion aimed at that state, and will pick and choose what to take.
    They still have almost $4 billion leftover in federal funds for Hurricane Katrina.

  7. Bart

    The stimulus bill is here. It was passed. It has been signed. I did not agree with a large portion of the content but pardon me for using a tired cliche’, “it is what it is” and we will have to live with it.
    I have no problem with Sanford lobbying senators to vote against it but now that it is a reality, I will be mad as hell if my hard earned money paid in to the government is denied to the residents of South Carolina because of our governor.
    I have done my due diligence researching the bill. It ain’t pretty. It is mostly government program spending with not enough going to the actual promise of creating jobs for the public sector.
    A list of spade ready projects assembled by the US Conference of Mayors has been published and the last update, update #4 was issued January 17, 2009. Most states listed several cities and their list of projects asking for funding.
    An excerpt from the report reads:
    “…..Today we are reporting that, in 779 cities of all sizes in all regions of the country, a total of 18,750 local infrastructure projects are “ready to go.” These projects represent an infrastructure investment of $149,758,339,126 that would be capable of producing an estimated 1,604,371 jobs in 2009 and 2010. These are the cumulative totals of projects, required funding, and jobs to be created that have been reported in the four surveys of cities conducted by the Conference of Mayors over the past three months. The populations of the 779 cities submitting projects total 77,946,664…..”
    Here is the kicker. Most states have several cities of all sizes submitting requests for funding. Even Puerto Rico is on the list. What struck me as strange is there are only 5, yes 5 South Carolina cities submitting spade ready projects for funding. Charleston, Columbia, Hardeeville, Rock Hill, and Sumter. Nothing from the upstate, Greenville or Spartanburg.
    The total number of projects for Charleston is 156, creating 18,893 jobs for a total of $1,050,962,590.00;
    next, Columbia with 67 projects, 2,728 jobs, $249,138,425.00;
    next, Hardeeville, 1 project, 1499 jobs, $93,924,000.00; (I-95 interchange)
    next, Rock Hill, 4 projects, 205 jobs, $10,624,104.00;
    last, Sumter, 43 projects, 375 jobs, $41,367,513.00.
    After reviewing the projects and using a little common sense and practical experience, the numbers for the jobs vs expediture vs projects doesn’t make sense and I suspect a lot of the job forecasts are WAGs. (Wild Ass Guesses).
    These projects total $1,446,016,632.00 which is a far cry from the $8 billion number from Clyburn or the $400 million plus from other sources.
    The point is that if this money is going to be available, then why are there no more projects “spade ready” for South Carolina? If all are approved which is doubtful, where will the $5.5 billion or $6.5 billion balance be spent? On deposit for a rainy day? Where are the adults?
    If it is to be spent, send it to us. We paid it in didn’t we? If our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren are to be responsible for paying it off, why should they pay for other states and not keep the money here to do as much good as possible considering the circumstances?

  8. Phillip

    It finally dawned on me what Sanford reminds me of…his true calling (except maybe for the teaching part) is to be an academic, a professor. He’s strong on the theoretical part, but he exists within an ivory tower, completely detached from any sense of the messy realities of actual existence. He really missed his calling.

  9. jessup

    “Do you remember the almost messianic tones of the editorials of this newspaper (and, I believe, this editorial page editor) in 2002 urging the election of this Governor (you may want to post a few of those). I do not recall seeing such fervent enthusiasm before or since. Nor have I seen such virulent, dare I say, hatred towards the same man from the same source over the past few years. Most amazing to me has been his consistency, a real case of what you see is what you get. What led to your early support and recent lack thereof?”
    – Greg
    I look forward to hearing a good answer to Greg’s question.
    – Carroll
    -Jessup (channeling Ted Knight/Judge Smales)

  10. bud

    Yeah Brad how about it. Why the change?
    Karen has a great point. Sanford and Palin seem to be star players in the GOP right now. That is really scary stuff.

  11. Lee Muller

    Any project which is ready to begin construction already had money budgeted, and a lot of it already spent, for analysis, engineering, and permits. Those projects would not need any extra federal money. It is just BS from the mayors and governors.
    There is only 3.3% infrastructure spending in the HR-1 spending bill, some $43 billion. The amount for highways, bridges, dams and railroads is less than the 2008 increase, which was $241 billion total just for roads and bridges.

  12. Bill C.

    I’ll back Sanford on this, nobody is taking responsibility for their actions, why should you when it’s too easy to ask for a hand-out. What is this “stimulus package” created by the Democrats… a federal hand-out. I realize that this is the age of entitlement and nobody is required to be responsible for their actions, but Obama and Pelosi are going to lead us in one direction and that’s into bankruptcy. Where is this stimulus money coming from, besides the printing press?
    This is no different than an individual who is broke and needing money applying and getting approved for another credit card… how is this going to help out his situation in the long run? This is exactly what Democrats have done… what is sane about this decision?

  13. Birch Barlow

    If all these states out there are so desperate for money, why don’t they just collect more tax revenue?
    Of course, now that this monstrosity has been signed into law, the responsible thing for Sanford to do for SC would be to get his hands on as much of that money as possible.

  14. Bill C.

    Where is this now stimulated economy headed, you ask?
    The stock market is continuing to tank no matter how much government money is pumped into the system; big ticket items (housing, automobiles, etc.) are stagnant regardless of what the government tries to do; people are putting disposable income into savings rather than cash registers; the only businesses that are seeing an increase in sales are discount stores and fast food restaurants.
    On another scale let’s see where people are spending their money… gun sales are at an all time high; ammunition shortages have been in place since November; gold is one commodity that is steadily increasing in value.
    For all you Economics 101 students, in a “guns vs. butter” scenario, people are taking guns and the the law of diminishing returns doesn’t seem to apply.
    Yet people are selectively blind as to see where all of this is heading. It might get ugly around here once those in power realize that this busted balloon isn’t going to be able to be re-inflated. This may be viewed as “doom and gloom”, but the facts I’m seeing speak for themselves. If anybody has any factual, positive stimulus observations I’d be more than happy to read what you are seeing.

  15. Lee Muller

    The free market economy was already recovering, before Obama took office.
    More signs:
    * GDP growth improved in December, from – 3.5% to -1.8%. At this rate, the recession will be over before any “stimulus” money is even spent.
    * Housing sales are up 48% in California, after prices have fallen enough in the last 2 years, back to reality.

  16. Brad Warthen

    There has never been anything even slightly mysterious about our positions regarding Mark Sanford at any point. If you read the paper, and read the blog, you have been told our position at every stage, and of course the main ingredient at each stage has been the WHY.
    We endorsed Mark Sanford in the GOP primaries for governor because, well, look at the field opposing him. Bob Peeler. Charlie Condon. The only other guy we liked at all for the job was Ken Wingate, and he wasn’t a leading contender. In the end, it was down to a choice between Peeler and Sanford, and Peeler was running a dirty campaign, especially in the runoff.
    If you’ll recall, you got MORE information from us about what we thought about the candidates that year than you have ever seen from a South Carolina newspaper. The day of our endorsement, we filled our op-ed page with separate examinations of each of the also-rans we did not endorse.
    But early on, Sanford had stood out in that crowd for one important reason: There is nothing that this newspaper has pushed more strongly or consistently, ever since the “Power Failure” series that I conceived and directed in 1991, than government restructuring. Very early in the process, sometime in 2001 I think, Sanford had spoken to us about ways he wanted to see the government be more accountable. While his ideas about that didn’t seem fully formed, I mentioned to him that they seemed to jibe with what we had written about in “Power Failure.” He asked for a copy of the reprint of that series, and I gave him one. Next thing you knew, he was running on a restructuring platform that was practically verbatim what we had written. So of COURSE we preferred him to a business-as-usual standard-issue Republican such as Bob Peeler, or a shameless populist self-promoter like Charlie Condon.
    Anyway, he won the nomination, and then went up against Jim Hodges. Nowadays, I get along pretty well with Mr. Hodges. I’ve seen him two or three times this week, and we always speak cordially, I’m happy to say. And way back in the early and mid-90s, Jim was one of our favorite House members. I wrote about him the way I write today about James Smith or Joel Lourie. He was a very positive force, and in fact was a key part of making the partial, inadequate restructuring of 1993 go through the Legislature.
    Two of the many things I agreed with Jim Hodges about back then was that he was an eloquent opponent of a state lottery and video poker. In fact, in writing about those issues later when they were front-page news, we quoted what Rep. Hodges had said earlier, because he stated the case so well. But after he hooked up with Kevin Geddings and started eying the governor’s office, Mr. Hodges reversed himself on both those issues, and RAN ON advocacy of the lottery and financed his campaign with video poker money.
    That was just the start of a lot of bad decisions he made while being advised by Geddings. Our opposition to him as governor was such that, back then, people said the same things about us with regard to Hodges as Greg just said with regard to Sanford — that we were virulent, hateful, and so forth. Our relationship with the governor’s office in those days deteriorated to a far lower point than our relationship with Sanford has by the way. At least Sanford and key staffers will still speak to us. Geddings built a hostile wall around Hodges to the point that, after his press secretary Nina Brook came to work for ME, we really didn’t have a good line of communication into that office any more.
    We were looking for an alternative to Hodges, so yeah, of course we endorsed this guy who was running on OUR government restructuring platform. Duh.
    As for what happened after that, it took a year or two for it to become apparent that Sanford was NOT going to get anything done on restructuring, and that in fact he was really all about an ANTI-government philosophy (rather than a GOOD-government one), that the things he really cared about were things that had seemed relatively minor parts of his platform in 2002. He had spoken of vouchers as a tiny, experimental sort of thing. We had thought it a stupid idea, but only saw it as a small part of what he was about. Ditto with his obsession about the income tax (which a person with a sense of perspective would see as the last tax that needed cutting in this state, but was the one he was really interested in cutting). Just a minor point we disagreed with.
    But as time passed, those minor things came to define him. He was all about posturing on those things, rather than actually governing. It became apparent that he had little interest in governing (and folks, that’s the lesson in the ESC thing — ALL governors had dealings with the ESC before this one, because they were INTERESTED in the agency’s important function). We continued to praise his line-by-line examinations of the budget as something the Legislature should do, too. But we realized more and more each day that it was just about making the point with him. It wasn’t about actually changing government. It was about getting credit among libertarians for having made the point, on issue after issue.
    Are you following me here? I mean, how many aspects of the last six years do I have to repeat? At every single stage, in every editorial and column that we have written, we have been VERY clear about why we were saying what we were saying, from the time that we endorsed Sanford to the present day. There’s been no mystery about it. So I’m a little mystified that anyone would think there was…

  17. Brad Warthen

    Oh, one other thing I should point out that should be obvious but obviously isn’t.
    Hodges defenders when he was governor thought there was something particularly virulent and hateful and personal in our opposition to him. Sanford defenders say the same thing now.
    Chalk it up to me and the fact that I don’t mince words, and don’t believe in an editorial page doing so, either (which is another thing that mystifies me that people have trouble following our position). We’re totally out front, and crystal clear. You NEVER have to wonder what we think. We make out points and make them strongly, with no tiptoeing or reticence.
    In fact, if there’s something we’re ambivalent about, we generally won’t editorialize about it, although one or more of us might write a column. The Leon Lott thing I wrote about earlier this week is a case of that. Here’s another that we haven’t written about yet, but have discussed a number of times — the controversial candidacy of Judge Goode for re-election to the bench. We keep kicking it back and forth, and no clear position has emerged (in fact, I don’t know what I personally think of it yet, much less what the board thinks).
    Some would say that the editorial page was kinder and gentler before I became editor. In fact, what happened when I became editor was the completion of a trend that had started under my predecessor Tom McLean. Before Tom was EPE, the page seldom took strong stands on S.C. issues while they were still issues. The page was mostly about national and international issues, rather than taking strong stands here at home. Tom worked to change that, and I made it my business to turn it completely around, to where we’re all taking strong, clear stands on issues of importance to S.C. and the Midlands, and spend far less time and space on the national and international stuff that you can get a million opinions about elsewhere.

  18. bud

    The editorial page largely ignores national/international issues. The front page is dominated by pictures of kids eating breakfast. The State has endorsed Sanford, Bush jr. twice and the ticket with Sarah Palin on it. After endorsing Sanford, Bush and to a lessor extent Palin the editorial page constantly criticize the people they endorsed. Do we really need to ponder any more the reasons the State’s circulation has declined?

  19. Greg Flowers

    We were looking for an alternative to Hodges, so yeah, of course we endorsed this guy who was running on OUR government restructuring platform. Duh.
    I’ll be frank, I think there is a line between being plain spoken and and being condescending. I am sorry that I did not pick up on your crystal clarity. I need to go find some of the old 2002 editorials for I recall that they were based on something more than his aping your reorganization ideas. If I sound a bit irritated its because I asked an honest question which has bothered me for some time and your response basically calls me stupid for not seeing what is transparent to the rest of the world. I know you take pride in your work but essentially telling me that my question was not worth asking because you had explained it all before so that any fool could understand, well maybe you just don’t have a readership worthy of your talents (at least in the case of this reader.)

  20. Mab

    The reasoning behind the antipathy was never ‘transparent’ to me either, Greg.
    It still isn’t, but don’t ask him to rehash it because IT DOESN’T MATTER!

  21. carroll

    I think Greg is completely on the mark on your tone. You sound like George W. Bush at a press conference annoyed and whining that someone would have the audacity to question his motives on a particular issue.
    That’s all I have to say, but thanks Greg for writing a more tactful response than I could have.

  22. Brad Warthen

    I agree.
    Greg, I apologize. Your question was civil and honest, and it’s really crass of me to be so self-important as to be dismissive of you for not having memorized every word I’ve written over the past few years.
    I wasn’t really reacting to you, but the folks who followed your question who (I thought, perhaps wrongly) were acting like I was dodging some REALLY TOUGH question that I just didn’t have the guts or the integrity to answer or something, when I didn’t even read your comment or theirs until I saw them all at the same time.
    But you know what? I’ll apologize to them, too. One of the purposes of this blog is to elaborate on the positions we take on the editorial page, and that’s all Greg asked me to do. (Just give me a minute next time, folks…)
    I’ll add that Greg has posted a number of times recently on the blog, and I’ve been impressed by his civility and good faith, so I’m doubly chagrined that I got so snotty.
    At this point, I feel like doing like Paul Shafer in “Spinal Tap,” bending over and saying “Kick me.” I deserve it.
    Greg, you are a gentleman and a scholar, and we need more like you here on the blog. I will try to emulate you myself.

  23. Lee Muller

    Now James Clyburn says it is racist for governors to not spend all the borrowed money in the HR-1 spending bill and other spending bills to come.
    Clyburn sees the spending bill as wealth redistribution along racial lines, retribution against white people. I take him at his word.

  24. anonymous

    Governor Schwarzenegger will take the money that Governor Sanford turned down.
    Schwarzenegger – Stimulus Package Is Terrific

  25. Lee Muller

    I am sure someone will break in a car that I walked past without trying to break into it.
    California is broke because it spends $30 billion a year on illegal aliens, and it has run so many wealthy people and businesses from the state that its revenues are falling.


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