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Prime rib for California, a salad for South Carolina

March 13, 2009

Lt. Governor Andre Bauer

By André Bauer
Lt. Governor of South Carolina

As a fiscal conservative I am not a fan of the current “economic stimulus” bill, however, it is hard to ignore the awful possibility that South Carolina taxpayers could wind up stuck in the salad bar after paying full price for a prime rib buffet.

For openers let me be clear: I support our Governor’s attempt to use additional stimulus money to repay debt. It’s a wise and good use of funds that positions us well for the future.

Clearly, Governor Sanford believes he is doing the right thing, and I don’t for a minute doubt his intentions. This is someone who time and time again has fought for the taxpayers.

But here is where I disagree. If the Administration turns down the Governor’s request, I cannot in good conscience allow South Carolina taxpayers to fund benefits for the other 49 states.

The issue is that my constituents in Seneca are as needy as residents of Sacramento. The same goes for the citizens of Aiken vs. the taxpayers of Austin, or the jobless in Chapin as opposed to the unemployed in Chicago. Whether you live in Beaufort or Biloxi, Spartanburg or Spokane, New Ellenton or New York, Dillon or Denver, the issue is that people are in need and if stimulus is purchased with your dollars, the stimulus ought to be available to you. Why send the money and jobs elsewhere? That is the key point. Citizens in South Carolina, their children and grandchildren, have already been stuck with the bill. Why then punish us now — when the need is the greatest?

The place we find ourselves is not a reflection of how Mark Sanford believes he is right to exclude more appealing options. The reality is that this developing spat is rooted in the fact that Bill Clinton, Barney Frank, and Chris Dodd sparked a housing crisis by pushing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to make sub-prime loans — no matter how hard Jim DeMint and Lindsey Graham opposed them.

The basic issue is that some people want something for nothing, and politicians respond to constituent demands for pork barrel projects — that’s the heartfelt view of Mark Sanford, who has and will continue to say no. And he is right. But the trouble is that for so many of us, it is easier to dress that up and say that elected officials should fight so that the people who elect them have jobs and are able to feed and educate their children.

So, which is the more principled choice: Say no, pay for prime rib and eat lettuce; or, address the fact that real people are hurting in a state where more than 10% are unemployed, 40% of the kids are on Medicaid, and everyone is watching as their life savings are slashed in half?

The truth is that we are in an economic war, and all resources should be focused on beating this new “enemy” which is killing our jobs and our savings and our futures. Like all wars, when you find yourself in one, fight for your life first and argue principles later. Like they say, there are no atheists in foxholes, and no time for academic political debate there either.

Is this war? Opinion leaders are beginning to conclude that America is indeed in the equivalent of a war footing when it comes to dealing with this economic crisis. Warren Buffett was the first to say it earlier this week. Then yesterday, the New York Times’ Tom Friedman declared, “Economically, this is the big one. This is August 1914. This is the morning after Pearl Harbor. This is 9/12.” And the Washington Post’s Steven Pearlstein added, “What we are facing is the economic equivalent of a war.”

All three pundits posed the same question: If we’re at war, then why aren’t people acting like it? Why isn’t the Obama administration, instead of trying to score hits on Rush Limbaugh, doing everything it can to develop a clear and transparent plan to fix the banking crisis? Why are folks on Wall Street engaged in short-selling — i.e., betting against the economy?

And why is the press covering all of this like a political campaign or expecting that, on Day 52, Obama should have already been able to turn the economy around? Associate Editor David Ignatius of the Washington Post also makes this point: “The culture of immobilism starts on Capitol Hill. These people are still working a four-day week, taking Fridays off so they can run home and tell constituents how diligent they are. They may talk about a crisis, but they don’t act like it’s real.”

It’s real people. It’s very real to 227,986 South Carolinians without a job and having to learn the ins and outs and humiliations of the unemployment lines.

Let’s face it: Washington has failed miserably. As leaders, we must make the best of bad policy. We’ve never experienced anything like this in our lifetimes. It is time to make the tough decision. The principle of winning the war wins the argument.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. SC2 permalink
    March 13, 2009 8:47 PM

    Andre comments on the stimulus – after bad poll numbers in Gresham’s poll – does this mean he’s running for Congress and not Governor?

  2. March 13, 2009 11:52 PM

    That’s a well-written piece, Mr. Bauer. The word of the day should not be The Economy, but the WWII phrase covering everything unpleasant, “There’s a war on, you know.” As we said then, “for the duration” we have to do something, even accepting Federal aid and hoping against hope that the New Ideal will succeed where conservatism has failed (in forgetting Eisenhower’s “enlightened self-interest.”)
    There’s no sense in vilifying Washington and indolent earmarking. We need to update Reagan’s “Government is not the answer, but the problem”. Government has no answer to the problem. Government is nothing but the sum of our taxes, and we soon won’t be able to pay them. Then we won’t have to worry about earmarking, or agonize over accepting “stimulation”. We’ll all be too busy looking for empty cans to heat beans over hobo camp fires.
    Or, we could develop new economic directions, new commodities…not the New Ideal, but a Real Deal, one man/one vote at a time.

  3. David O permalink
    March 23, 2009 4:39 PM

    I have seen this movie before. Sanford is Jiminy Cricket. SC Legislature is Pinocchio. Pinocchio and his friends are picked up in a wagon by men promising to take them to a place of fun and frolic. A place of no work, no school, no chores, no parents. All cake, candy, and fun in this promised utopia. The drivers of the wagon to the land of hedonism are Obama, Pelosi, and Reid.

    When Pinocchio and the boys arrive at the “promised land,” they suddenly begin to change to Donkeys (what a hoot, donkeys). They are now slaves to the wagon drivers.

    There is no free ride. Someone is going to pay. SC legislature, please don’t sell you constituents into slavery.

    Thank God for Mark Sanford! The only sane person left in Columbia.

  4. Kevin Breeland permalink
    April 4, 2009 9:52 AM

    Dear Lt. Governor Bauer,
    Your point is well taken and I don’t disagree with you. I watch Governor Sanford’s interview the other day with Brad Franco and while I have had one opinion prior to the interview I have a little different one now. What’s different, I understand his point better. I believe that Governor Sanford in his core being of who he is believes his position is the right one.
    This much I know, at 52 my taxes will go to pay the debt that has been created. My daughter who is 30, my son who is 25, their taxes as well. My son who is 11, probably his too. For me, being a Republican, I have been supportive of the messures so far but most of that is because I have not seen the Republican leadership developing ideas, just a bunch of soundbites. The Republican Leadership in Washington are not being effective and you can take that anyway you want. For me, I have been very disappointed and ahve even questioned whether the Washington REpublican leadership is even in touch with the issue more than being in touch with what they see as their politicial careers.
    You are corect, we are going to be taxes for the money whether we take it or not. we should take the money, we should put it to work in South Carolina, we should build a new school Dillon, we should find a way to create job in Allendale County to lower the 23.5% unemployment there. Why is the media not covering tent cities in South Carolina instead of California. We here in South CArolina are more resourceful and the nature of our people is to help each other out. But lets be clear, 11% unemployment should ahve all of worried and saying thanks but no thanks, and getting the bill anyway, well for me that leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Lets take it, put it use in South Carolina putting the unemployed of South Carolina back to work, we are going to need the tax revenue they can generate.

  5. Hindel Garrison permalink
    April 8, 2009 11:02 PM

    Why is everyone oblivious to the real problem with how Mr. Sanford proposes to use the stimulus money? To pay off debt which his irresponsible fiscal policy created?? Look at the history.

  6. June 26, 2009 3:19 PM

    Salad and prime rib? I would rather eat salad now and have salad in the future than waste my savings on steak and have nothing in the future. I am not going to Outback just because my neighbor is. I would rather eat light and save for the future which is dismal than bask in the comfort that is short lived by the NEW CREDIT CARD I got in the mail. Is it disingeuous to say that we have to fund California so we may as well participate in the bad deal? By setting an example across the country, many governors could have pushed back against this fiscal irresposibility and set an example for conservatives everywhere. Instead we will adjust our spending to keep pace with liberal loons for years to come.

    This is what you are saying right, Andre? We are going to get taxed anyway so lets party like we have the money. Using war, against economic woes, drugs, or other countries, if you are well read, is exactly the crisis talk that consolodates power and leads towards tyrannical rule. Save your crisis talk. Smart people don’t buy it and you are betting that Carolinaians are not smart enough to understand the ruse. I agree, some aren’t.

    So we are not an individual state with an individual Constitution that affords its contituents a choice, rather we have to participate in whatever is good for California is good for South Carolina. You sir are no leader. You are a populist and your message will be very popular among those looking for help from the government.

    Well I don’t have health insurance for my family, but I save money to make sure we are healthy while living a healthy lifestyle to hopefully stave off illness. I don’t want California healthcare, but I guess if they get we should too right? My wife and I are small business people who are living off of a third of what we made a year ago, but we are not looking for help. We are adjusting our lifestyles accordingly. (and that rules out steak)California gets federal assistance for many of it’s poorly run ignorant social programs, I guess we should too? How about we just forget we are a state all together and do whatever the feds tell us. I guess those of us who want to be truly free men can move to Texas where the leaders have a set. Our governor had a set but was back stabbed by everyone who should have stood with him against federal control over our laws and spending, but I know, Andre, that isn’t popular, standing for something that is.
    I read your piece because I was trying to decide whether to support you or Grooms for Governor. Thanks for the help. Most people will look fondly on your platitudes because they don’t know any better. Free/easy money is the lure that brought us to this brink, free money is what you espoused “because CA is getting it”.
    Enjoy the steak, and the bill that comes, and then the interest, and then the continued spending it forced on our state, and the begging for that money, and the cap and trade taxes on us all to pay for it to pay for it. South Carolina does not have to follow the rest of the country to decline and servitude, that is unless we elect such a fence riding governor seeking to follow the mandates of the new statist movement.


  1. As S.C.'s Mark Sanford considers rejecting stimulus cash, a Democratic ad urges him to think again | Political Insider

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