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[SC Republicans] Recent commentary by Drew McKissick

May 15, 2009

SC Republicans: Recent commentary

Fellow SC Republicans,

I look forward to seeing you at the upcoming Silver Elephant Dinner and State Convention weekend.

In the aftermath of the recent elections, we as Republicans have much work to do, and I believe one of the most important items on our agenda should be recommitting ourselves to our principles.

With that in mind, I’m passing along a recent column I wrote concerning the current battle over our state budget in Columbia.

I hope you find it worthwhile.

Again, I look forward to seeing you this weekend.


Having the courage to say “stop”

It’s been more than a little amusing lately to watch politicians, interest groups and media types criticize Gov. Mark Sanford for saying “no” to spending an additional $700 million in federal “stimulus” money on anything other than state debt reduction.

This money represents less than 10 percent of the entire tab (including tax cuts) of federal dollars headed to South Carolina, yet you would think it was our entire budget, from critics’ reaction.

And keep in mind that many who are now criticizing the governor opposed the federal stimulus bill to begin with — the same bill that these funds will come from. (I’ll not name names to protect the guilty.)

The controversy is also amusing because our country’s fiscal policies are so insane that about all you can do anymore is laugh.

Politicians in Washington are playing a multi-trillion-dollar game of kick-the-can, and we’re busy criticizing a governor who has the nerve to say “stop” in his little corner of the 50 states over a fraction of that amount.

Anyone with a fifth-grade education can do the math and tell that this country is on a path to bankruptcy, yet people continue to ignore the facts and argue over how much easier we can make it on ourselves at the moment by spending more before the tab comes due.

But ignoring the hard reality of the numbers doesn’t make the problem go away.

The federal government currently pays out more than $412 billion each year just in interest on the money we’ve already borrowed; President Obama’s new spending plan will add an extra $1 trillion in annual interest over the next decade.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects that Obama’s budgets will add more than $9 trillion to our national debt by 2019 — putting our total debt close to $20 trillion.

As one commentator put it recently, it’s “fiscal child abuse.” Our government is using unborn children like a pre-approved credit card with no spending limit.

Even if everyone agreed that all this massive new spending would be done responsibly (I hear you laughing), is it really more important than our kids having a country they can afford to live in?

The other point to consider is what we’re arguing over — federal money for state and local expenses that we should be taking care of ourselves.

And yes, it all comes from the same taxpayers, but all we do is empower Uncle Sam even more when we just accept — and expect — that he’ll give us back some of what he took in the first place. And it always, always, always comes back to us with strings and mandates, written in a one-size-fits-all fashion that is never the best fit for the 50 states and thousands of local governments impacted.

Would that our politicians spent less time trying to “get our share” from Washington and more time reducing the “share” that goes up there in the first place.

Despite what some suggest, it’s no sure thing that other states will get the money if we don’t spend it. As I understand it, new legislation would be required to send it elsewhere.

Yet the critics continue. They’re like the kid who tries to justify bad behavior by telling mama that “everyone else is doing it.”

They claim that if we don’t spend more, XYZ is going to happen — children, sick and old people suffer, etc. But how much more will those same groups suffer when Uncle Sam’s money runs out (or the economy crumbles) due to a mountain of debt?

How much better off would we be if we used this money (which we’ll have to help pay back anyway) to reduce our own state debt, making more money available each year hereafter? Sure, it doesn’t solve our national debt crisis, but it does reduce the liability of state taxpayers.

We can’t just continue to be a part of the problem and expect — or hope — that it will all work out down the road. Eventually, someone has to stand up and take the politically unpopular (but responsible) position and say “stop.”

Our governor should be commended for that.

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