This morning we and Americans for Tax Reform hosted an American Spectator Newsmaker Breakfast with South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, a leading fiscal conservative and oft-mentioned 2012 possibility. Sanford delivered a wide-ranging, reflective talk on everything from the Republican Party’s identity crisis to his difficulties finding a Wendy’s at which to dine in Alexandria. But Sanford focused heavily on South Carolina’s budget and his reasons for rejecting the federal stimulus funds.
Sanford gave the example of a family that won the lottery and used the money to pay down debts, settle bills, and shore up their overall financial position. He said we would look at such a family as a financially prudent and responsible, so why should we not expect similar behavior from our elected officials? Instead, he argued, the stimulus is being used to provide a temporary infusion of funds that will permanently increase spending and indebtedness.
Sanford stopped short of saying that the stimulus should be seen as a litmus test for Republicans — prompting what Dave Weigel calls his Mel Brooks moment — but praised the House Republicans for their unified opposition to the spending bill. Sanford said Republicans should be true to their oaths of office and stand for the things they say they are going to stand for when it comes to controlling government spending.
On the economic front, Sanford warned that inflation would become a major challenge to the country as a result of the monetary and fiscal policy being pursued in Washington to deal with the recession. Sanford repeatedly compared the government’s borrowing and inflating tactics to a “banana republic.” He urged conservatives to become more informed on the issue so as to better explain the consequences of inflation to the American public.
Candid about his occasionally contentious relationship with the state legislature, Sanford talked about his successes — the pigs at the state house — and failures. He allowed there were things he’d do differently but said that there was often value in taking on losing causes. Probably not the message a party hungry for wins wants to hear, but perhaps a necessary one as the GOP tries to find its way out of the wildnerness.
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