Either way, it’s not good for South Carolina.
If you expect her to be mindful of the opinions of South Carolinians, you have to be puzzled by this behavior:
Gov. Nikki Haley said Thursday that a sales tax exemption Gov. Mark Sanford’s administration promised to Amazon, if granted, would destroy her economic development message.
While speaking in Charleston at the Free Enterprise Foundation awards luncheon, Haley addressed the Internet retailer’s decision to cancel a planned distribution center in Lexington County after the S.C. House of Representatives on Wednesday rejected the promised sales tax exemption.
The planned facility would have brought about 1,250 jobs to the Midlands.
Haley described the tax break that her predecessor promised as a “distraction” and said it is dangerous. She drew a distinction between the retail-related jobs Amazon would have brought and manufacturing jobs such as those Boeing Co. is bringing.
When talking to companies about coming to South Carolina, Haley said she tells them, “We are going to give you a fair, competitive marketplace to do business, and we are always going to take care of the businesses we already have.”…
So you ask yourself, why would she bother coming out and saying thing like this NOW, when the debate is over? When the issue was in doubt, she studiously avoided taking responsibility for any position. (She made it clear she didn’t LIKE the incentive, but promised to do nothing to stop it — while standing by as her Commerce secretary lobbied for it.) She didn’t want her fingerprints on whatever happened in any way.
So why make a speech about it NOW, when it’s moot? After all, the people who wanted Amazon to get the break are really unhappy now — as I can attest, having had to explain my own position to some of them the last couple of days. Why further antagonize them? Why not be quiet, or just say it’s a shame it didn’t work out, without going on about how jobs that aren’t manufacturing jobs are no good? (“Retail by nature is a lower-priced job. And retail by nature is not solid and invested. It is not a Boeing. It is not a BMW. Manufacturing, high technology is very different.”)
The only explanation I can see is that Nikki Haley has never been about trying to get things done here in South Carolina. She’s always been about appealing to what she sees as a potential national constituency — the kind of ideologues elsewhere who couldn’t care less about jobs in SC, but who DO have a marked prejudice against economic incentives. With them, badmouthing the Amazon proposal is win-win. She was, after all, speaking to the Free Enterprise Foundation.
Which do you think it is? Is she clueless? Is she, as David Woodward suggested, just that much of an amateur? Or is it all on-message calculation — a calculation that leaves us in SC out completely?