Fox News Channel "On the Record" - Transcript
Fox News Channel "On The Record" Interview With South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford (R)
Interviewer: Greta Van Susteren
Subject: Court Ruling That South Carolina Must Accept Stimulus Money From Federal Government
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MS. VAN SUSTEREN: Well, he doesn't want it, but he is taking it. South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford has now officially requested $700 million in stimulus funds after a long and rather rugged legal battle in his state. So what happened? Governor Mark Sanford joins us live.
Good evening, Governor. Governor, what happened?
GOV. SANFORD: We lost. We tried to get it to the federal court system. We were unsuccessful in doing so. And at that point, we knew our days were numbered, because in South Carolina you have a Supreme Court that's elected and appointed by the general assembly. And we knew where it was going to go. But I think it was an awfully important debate and awfully important fight, both from a financial standpoint in terms of trying to avoid a billion-dollar financial hole in South Carolina and from the standpoint of balance of power which, in this case, ended up very, very blurry. And we thought it was important for future governorships to try and hold the line on what basically amounts to a state legislative body rewriting federal law.
MS. VAN SUSTEREN: And of course, I'm reading a letter that you wrote June 8th to the secretary of Education, in which you said, "Borrowing from future generations have no say in the matter, to me, is wrong and strikes me as being a kin to the same taxation without representation." I mean, those who are going to pay it back don't even get to vote on the issue, right, sir?
GOV. SANFORD: That's absolutely right. You know, what needs to be remembered is that 50 cents on every dollar being spent in Washington this year is borrowed money, as Steve Moore and you were just talking about just a little while ago. And what I think is interesting about that is that same level of financial recklessness is now being exported to states around this country. And so in South Carolina, we will literally dig ourselves a billion-dollar financial hole in just 24 months as a result of these stimulus dollars that, I think, will, again, prove to be a tremendous hardship to young kinds, middle aged and old alike.
MS. VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, how do you convince the people of South Carolina? Because they see that $700 million, and they think the governor just won't let them have the money. It must make you particularly unpopular in your state right now that you didn't want the federal money. Because if you hadn't gotten it, it would have gone someplace else.
GOV. SANFORD: Well, but, again, the debate was more complex than that. So I'd say, yeah, was I unpopular in some circles? Certainly. But I think that there is that silent majority out there of folks that are hardworking, playing by the rules, and they see something very wrong with this pattern of stimulus coming out of Washington, D.C.
And what they say is, wait a minute. You know, if an individual, if a family won the lottery, it would be viewed as financially prudent to set some money aside for a rainy day, if they've paid off the credit card or paid down the mortgage. And why is it that a state government should be exempt from that same principle.
So I think that there are a lot of people out there that do get it. But I will grant you that certainly the conventional political wisdom is if hundreds of millions of dollars are sitting there on the table, the conventional wisdom is grab as much as you can, pull it in your direction and ask questions later. But in this case, very serious strings attached.
MS. VAN SUSTEREN: What is $700 million going to do for your state in the short run?
GOV. SANFORD: In the short run, it will go to education and, quote, "economic development." But here's what I think is interesting. When you look at this notion of education, the debate was never on, should you put money to the classroom or to teachers? The question is, where should it come from? We thought you ought to hold some money aside, pay down debt and reform and restructure outdated governmental programs and then put that money into the areas where it will, in essence, produce the greatest investment return in state government. And that's what the tug-o-war is all about.
We all know, whether at the federal level, the state level, the local level, there are programs that are long outdated. And what this federal money out of Washington now allows is for people to paper over restructuring and change that should have happened, that's happening in the private sector, it's happening at the individual level. But for some reason, people believe that government ought to be held to a different standard and that we shouldn't use this time as a time to tighten our belt and take out of government outdated programs so that we can redeploy that money into things that work.
MS. VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, thank you, sir. Good luck, sir.
GOV. SANFORD: My pleasure. You take care.