SA Column - Sanford's struggle to inject responsibility into a reckless government

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As a South Carolina congressman and now governor, Sanford has had one primary guiding principle his entire political career — limited government. Not just limited government rhetoric, the sort of lip service paid by milquetoast Republicans to pacify their right-leaning base, but genuine, strict, fiscal conservatism. More importantly, Sanford has the guts to back it up.

If you ever need a good illustration of just how duplicitous the GOP can be, just take notice of how frequently S.C. Republicans get angry at Sanford for daring to actually represent the limited government principles they pretend to. It's as if they're saying, "C'mon Mark, you didn't really think we meant all that conservative stuff, did ya?" Luckily, Sanford does mean it, which to some makes him dangerous.

Gov. Sanford's recent refusal to request a federal loan to extend unemployment benefits made national headlines and received heavy criticism from the Employment Security Commission, many state politicians, and others. 

Sanford had delayed his request for a federal loan until the ESC had agreed to a request by the governor — to allow a third-party audit be conducted in order to highlight waste and inefficiency and to reform the agency. When Sanford finally filed for the federal loan at the last minute, the ESC had still not agreed to an audit. In not submitting to the governor's wishes, was the ESC not showing "reckless disregard" for unemployed South Carolinians? What exactly are they trying to hide and was their refusal worth possibly hurting those out-of-work? And if the reforms Sanford would like to see were implemented, might not the ESC have more cash on hand for the unemployed rather than continuing to waste it on its own bureaucracy? Plenty of Republicans joined Democrats in calling Sanford's actions, or inactions, "reckless." The GOP used to call it "welfare reform."

In a general sense, the true "reckless disregard" being shown is not by men like Sanford, but politicians across the nation who refuse to even address, let alone fix, a broken system. Throwing wasted money on top of wasted money, whether at the national or state level, is just plain stupid. As of this writing, even the newspaper industry is asking for a federal bailout, and why not? Where are the leaders who might stand up, speak out, and prefer free-market solutions to a better socialism? How about just plain, old penny-pinching?

In a political environment where being a "responsible" politician now means you must waste as much money as the next, Sanford's fiscal conservatism is considered "reckless" precisely because he believes in responsible spending, budgeting, and accounting.

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