Defeat Looms, But S.C. Governor Still Has His Chin Up

Jillian Bandes
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Posted: Jun 04, 2009 10:44 AM
The South Carolina Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling today on whether or not it’s legal for Governor Mark Sanford to use federal stimulus money to pay down the state debt. After a lengthy battle during which he hasn’t seen much success, Sanford suspects that the ruling will be “the last straw” before he’s forced to use the money on more government spending.

That doesn’t matter to Sanford.

“I think somebody needed to say ‘I will fight this in any way and every way possible to the last drop,’ in hope that when one person does something in politics, it will have consequences again and again,” he said at a breakfast meeting with journalists this morning.

Sanford launched a suit early last month after the state legislature voted 34-11 to force the governor to spend the money instead of use it to pay down debt. This comes five years after his highly publicized swine stunt, during which he brought pigs to the state legislature after members refused to cut state spending. The legislature did cave in to his maneuvers then, even if they probably won’t this time around.

Sanford says he won’t be critical of other Republican governors who aren’t waging war to pay down their state debts with stimulus money, but in the same breath says that the use of stimulus money “will be a real litmus test” for the GOP.

“Brands that have meaning have to stand for something,” he said.

South Carolina is fourth in the country in per capita indebtedness, said Sanford, but no matter what a state’s financial situation is, higher government spending during a recession inevitably leads to inflation. Sanford considers the GOP’ failure to emphasize that point one of its greatest failings.

Fifty percent of every dollar that the government spends is borrowed cash, which does “indeed get to the point of becoming a banana republic.”