This Sanford gives heart attacks to big government

Democrats and, especially fellow republicans in the Palmetto State may wish they could “join Elizabeth” to avoid this chief executive’s wrath.

Originally published by Mike gamecock DeVine as Legal Editor for The Minority Report

Of course, I am referring to South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (pictured) as a reverse Fred Sanford, who, when backed into a corner by his lies, resorted to fake heart attacks for sympathy as he shouted at the sky to his late wife, “Elizabeth, I’m comin’ to join ya!”

By contrast, Governor Sanford regularly exposes the Republican majority in his state for their incompetence and love for bigger government. For conservatives, he shows us how we should seize opportunities, even at Christmas:

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Three of South Carolina’s leading Republican lawmakers slammed Gov. Mark Sanford on Monday for his reluctance to accept federal money that would keep unemployment benefits for the state’s jobless from drying up at the end of the year.

“I’ve been in the Senate 28 years,” Sen. Hugh Leatherman, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said in a statement. “Never have I seen a more heartless and cruel act by a governor. … I call upon him to end this reign of emotional trauma and request the loans.”

In the interest of full disclosure when I read the above and the whole AP article, I began my research intending to slam Sanford as the “flake” I often referred to him as when he refused federal dollars for projects in his coastal congressional district, when he served in the House years ago.

I was a Democrat then, but even now am not a big opponent of earmarks given their paltry sum as opposed to massive budget busting entitlements; the usefulness of earmarks for bargaining on larger issues; and my selfishness for my, relatively-speaking, poor native state. My ambivalence for Sanford on the latter was increased by his recent WSJ eschewings of bailouts for states.

But after reading Sanford (and Gov. Perry of Texas) above, and especially his unfiltered by the Associated drive-by Press strategy explanation below, I have changed my mind and now see his actions as fitting into my proposed strategy for the GOP to stop being the Stupid Party and seize opportunities to expose liberalism that hurts liberty and business:

In simplest form, our state is running out of money to pay unemployment benefits, and our office has been drawn into the debate because it’s up to us to request a band-aid loan of sorts so that these checks can continue being issued.

Here are my reservations:

A loan without reforming our unemployment benefits system will mean one thing down the road — a tax increase on businesses. According to the non-partisan Tax Foundation, our state is roughly in the middle of the pack on our business tax climate, except when it comes to unemployment taxes — where we rank ninth-highest in the country, our least business-friendly tax ranking.

So we have simply asked for two things before we sign off on the loan.
One, we’re calling for an independent audit of the ESC.

Since beginning to highlight this issue, we’ve had a number of former ESC employees raise issues to us about the operations of the agency. For example, in order to be eligible for benefits, a person needs to be “actively seeking employment.” We’ve been told that some interpret that to mean making just one phone call in a week to qualify as “seeking employment.” In a 40-hour work week, it doesn’t seem like one five-minute phone call should qualify you as looking for work.

We’ve also been told that some companies are essentially taking advantage of the system, and use the unemployment benefits as a sort of taxpayer-funded furlough. These are the kinds of things an audit could uncover, and in the process help avert a tax increase.

Two, we’re asking for better information sharing from the ESC.

We’ve heard that one of the reasons data can’t be shared effectively is because the agency is operating on a cumbersome, inefficient, and decades-old mainframe computer system. Yet rather than use recent funding increases to upgrade that system to better-serve the people of this state, the money was instead spent on new construction of facilities. I’m a firm believer in fixing what you have before you take on new commitments, but unfortunately too many in government don’t seem to feel that way.

The Governor then asks voters to call their state legislators demanding action. It is a shame that these fiscal matters come up at the end of the year when people are distracted by Christmas holidays that legislators can hide behind and appeal to for sympathy.

We think Sanford’s strategy is to use the need for the federal unemployment compensation loan to try and force conservative reforms and that he will, in the end, not let the unemployed miss a check, so we applaud his strategy and wish that more elected republicans across the nation and in Washington, D.C. would seize opportunities when voters are attentive.

Opportunities are coming during the weeks in January when Congress will be preparing that “sign on Day One” stimulus bill as well as more fundamental “reform” called “stimulus” during the First Hundred Days.

The GOP must be diligent to forge alliances with amenable democrats in the House and use the filibuster in the Senate, to force energy and health care legislation into hearings and/or other delays that We the People can use to shoot down socialism like we did illegal immigrant amnesty in 2007.

[Links above flesh out my proposed strategy to try and seize opportunities and split the Democrats in an economic crisis environment in which we must not be seen merely as Dr. No offering “only” a Supply-Side stimulus. I think such a stimulus of tax cuts and regulation cuts is the fastest way out of the current recession, which will be long no matter what, but just think that we have to have more of a strategy than supply-side. Obama may well resort to supply-side later, when his Keynesianism doesn’t work any better for him that it didn’t for Hoover, FDR, LBJ and Carter, but for now, we need to be savvy in how we respond to specific proposals, like public works and pre-packaged bankruptcies (see link above).]

Mike DeVine’s Charlotte Observer, Examiner.com and Minority Report columns

“One man with courage makes a majority.” – Andrew Jackson