MR. BECK: I want to go to South Carolina now and Mark Sanford. He's the governor down there.
Governor, I have to tell you, and maybe I'm crazy -- and many people say I am -- but the thing that frightens me here on this is when I think of California, the government comes in and saves it, you know, or they do like they're doing with your state now, jamming it down your throat, which they did with Bank of America, they did with Citibank, they did with GM, they did with Chrysler, just jamming it down your throat. And then they come in, and you've lost your sovereignty. Do you think that's a possibility at all?
GOV. SANFORD: Yeah. I think that, you know, one of our big objections to the stimulus package was that, in essence, the federal government -- I mean, why have a state legislative body? Why have a governor at a local level? Why have county council? Why have folks, you know, at the municipal level if Washington is deciding it all?
In this case, what they were doing was they were basically deciding what our financial statement would look like in 24 months, because what the stimulus package, when we spend it all, does in total is to dig us a $1 billion hole 24 months from now, which we thought to be tremendously problematic. And on top of that, it prevented some restructuring that, in our case, was long overdue as a state.
So I think that if you take it from that angle, you've got real problems. Or based on the last conversation you were just having, you've got tremendous problems going on in private world. Because what the Obama administration said when they said, we pick the third guy, is that, we stand against private property rights, and we stand against the rule of law, both of which have been the hallmarks of the American experience.
What separates us from so many banana republics across the world is rule of law and private property rights. So you've got an undoing of a lot of what has made this country great.
MR. BECK: So Obama has said to you -- you said, we don't want the stimulus money. Obama says to you, yes, you're taking the stimulus money. It went to your Supreme Court, right?
GOV. SANFORD: Correct.
MR. BECK: Okay. And your Supreme Court --
GOV. SANFORD: We tried to get it to the federal court system. We couldn't. It ultimately got decided by the Supreme Court. It was decided at the end of last week. Our deadline was today. We signed the paperwork. But basically, what they did was they compelled us to go ahead and take this last piece of the money that we had been fighting over for the last couple of months. And I think it's going to be a real mistake for taxpayers in our state and across this nation. I think it's going to be a real mistake for the school kids that will be paying the debt on this stuff. But basically, the Supreme Court, which, in our state, is elected by and appointed by the general assembly, said, you've got to take the money, and you've got to spend it all.
MR. BECK: Right. And they also control the budget of the Supreme Court, right? So I go back to the question that you said earlier. Why have a governor at all? I mean, you're completely out of this.
GOV. SANFORD: (Laughs.) In this one, yeah. If a hurricane hits this fall, they'll want me to make all kinds of decisions that won't be so nice, but when it comes to grabbing large chunks of money that Washington has left on the table, what they've said is, we don't want a governor, and we're going to decide it for you. We're going to do differently than is done in 49 other states in this country wherein in every instance in those other 49 states, the executive branch had control over this portion of the money, which in our state represented about $700 million.
MR. BECK: Why did they need you to take it so badly? Why wouldn't they give it to -- Arnold Schwarzenegger said, let me take it for California. Why did they need you to take it so badly?
GOV. SANFORD: Because anybody in politics wants to have a good day if they can. And the way you have a good day in politics is not to make a tough decision. If you didn't get the money, we would have had to make a lot of long-overdue decisions with regard to restructuring outdated and inefficient programs in state government. And instead, what this federal money allows is for us to paper over it and deal, you know, with those tough decisions another day. I think that that's going to prove to be a giant mistake going down the road, but it is what it is, and the courts have decided.
MR. BECK: Okay. So just looking at this, 53 percent of Democrats in your state say that you should have taken the money; 52 percent of Republicans; 66 percent of independents, which is bizarre, say that you should have taken the money. Was there anyone in the majority on your side? There was nobody there.
GOV. SANFORD: (Laughs.) Well, you know, you put in a quarter, and you get the poll you want. It has been my experience with polls -- I don't know who did the poll or who was asking the questions or how it was asked -- but I would say there is a silent majority out there that does not fit at all with those polls, who overwhelmingly were hardworking, small-business people, who know what it's like to meet the bottom line, who have had to actually make adjustments in their small businesses, who have had to actually make real-world sacrifices. And they say, wait a minute, I don't get it. I don't know why government should be held to a different standard than my family is being held to or my small business is being held to.
So I would say, one, I disagree with that poll. Two, what I would say is if worrying about the popular flavor of the week or the month is the way we ought to be running a republic, then, you know, we're in big trouble, much bigger trouble than that poll would point to. And I think that, again, we've got to go back to the principles that made this country great. And spending money you don't have to solve a problem created by too much debt is not one of them.
MR. BECK: Yeah. Governor, do me a favor, will you, because I'm very concerned about the loss of state sovereignty. They're doing it with the car companies -- they're doing it with the insurance companies, the car companies, the banks. The only thing that they haven't done it with yet is the states, and they're now doing it with you. But if you'd follow that and let us know and keep us up to speed on that, I'd appreciate it.
GOV. SANFORD: We'll do that.
MR. BECK: Okay, good.