Should Mark Sanford Reject the Stimulus Money?

Paul Begala picks a fight with South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford on CNN.com: If Republican politicians are so deeply opposed to President Obama's ...
by | February 16, 2009

Paul Begala picks a fight with South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford on CNN.com:

If Republican politicians are so deeply opposed to President Obama's economic recovery plan, they should refuse to take the money. After all, if you think all that federal spending is damaging, there are easy ways to reduce it: Don't take federal money.

Gov. Sanford can lead the way. South Carolina should decline to accept any federal funds for transportation, education, health care, clean energy or any of the other ideas President Obama is advocating to fix the economy. And the rest of the GOP can follow suit.

I want to frame this debate a little bit differently. Forget for a moment whether Sanford should reject the stimulus money out of intellectual consistency. Should he reject it for the sake of politics?

Sanford is thought to be mulling a 2012 presidential bid, but he faces significant obstacles. He doesn't have the preexisting network of supporters that previous candidates such as Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee possess. He doesn't start out with the star power of Sarah Palin or Bobby Jindal.

What Sanford does have, though, is a reputation as a fiscal conservative who actually stands by his principles. Could there possibly be a better way to further that reputation -- and to introduce himself to a national audience -- than to say no to the stimulus money?

Such a move could turn Sanford into a conservative hero and a leading voice of opposition to the Obama administration. It would also almost certainly enrage a lot of people in South Carolina -- and not just Democrats.

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com

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