Bobby Harrell’s op-ed piece in The State today was quite good. Not just because I agree with it. In fact, there is nothing remarkable in that. Pretty much everyone from all parts of the political spectrum holds the view I do on the stimulus — that now that it is a fact and we will have to pay for it, we must make sure that South Carolina gets every penny of its share. Only a tiny band of reality-denying ideologues disagrees. Unfortunately, one of them is our governor. Our state is cursed in that regard.
But I often read columns that I agree with, and wish I didn’t, because they are so weak. They actually harm the cause. Not so in this case. Bobby does a pretty decent job. I wonder if it was this good when he turned it in, or whether Cindi (who has handled local op-eds since Mike left last year) made it this good editing it. Whichever is the case, I liked it.
Set aside the issue of whether Marie Antoinette actually said the thing about letting the peasants eat cake (she probably did not). I find often that the lead anecdote or analogy is the weakest part of an otherwise good column. And in this case, the idea expressed is sound, even if the historical reference is not.
The speaker sets the governor’s nonsense against hard reality, such as when he invites the governor to seek out the places where he thinks government is growing:
If he really thinks we are somehow growing spending by 11 percent this year, I invite the governor to visit the schools, police stations and disability care facilities and see for himself the reductions — not expansions — they are having to make.
And of course, the governor’s assertion that government is growing will NOT stand up to scrutiny at the rubber-meets-the-road level.
Then, he rather deftly takes away the one thing even many of the governor’s detractors would concede him — his ideological purity — by pointing out his inconsistency:
While Gov. Sanford has made it clear that he adamantly opposes taking this education and law enforcement stimulus money, he has at the same time already accepted all the other funds that he can out of the remaining 90 percent of the $8 billion in stimulus money and tax cuts coming to our state.
It makes no sense for the governor to cherry-pick the funds he will accept — such as the $50 million to make buildings more energy-efficient that he requested the other week — and oppose money for teachers and law enforcement officers on so-called “philosophical” grounds. This is inconsistent with any kind of viewpoint and goes against what most people would consider to be common sense.
Finally, he explains why the governor’s oft-repeated claim that lawmakers could avoid deep cuts simply by following the budget HE recommended months ago simply doesn’t fit reality:
These budgetary facts are not some form of “scare tactics,” as the governor claims. Pointing to his executive budget written months ago, the governor says he was able to fund key areas of government without stimulus money. But what he doesn’t tell you is that he also had $254 million more in state funds than budget writers have available today because the Board of Economic Advisors has twice lowered the revenue estimates since then.
Given the quarter of a billion dollars less in state funds that we have to write a budget with, the only thing scary about these facts is the reality of the situation — a reality Gov. Sanford doesn’t seem to grasp.
On the whole, a good piece.