Duncan To Sanford: "Stuff It"

Friday, March 27, 2009
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan vowed to find a way (as reported in USA Today) to get education-related stimulus dollars to South Carolina despite Governor Mark Sanford's perilous, politicized stance against accepting it.

"Let me be clear: We are going to take care of children in South Carolina," Duncan said Thursday in a Newsmaker session with USA TODAY.

The Obama administration last week rejected Sanford's bid to funnel $700 million in education-related federal stimulus funding to reducing South Carolina's debt. He later said he wouldn't apply for the $700 million.

Accepting the education money would "put our state even further into an unconscionable level of debt," Sanford said in a statement. The governor believes that failure to pay down the construction debt would worsen the state's overall debt load.

Sanford is one of a small group of Republican governors — Louisiana's Bobby Jindal and Alaska's Sarah Palin are others — who may reject or consider saying no to a portion of the stimulus money.

It seems to me that South Carolina's pre-existing debt is a creation of that state's policies and not the fault of a federal stimulus law just passed last month. In an Education Week story on this same topic, Sanford's spokesperson was quoted as saying that "the biggest problem remains borrowing money that future generations will have to repay." Listen, the federal government's been borrowing money for years. If this is truly a principled stance against borrowed federal monies -- and not politics as usual (a thumb in the eye of a Democratic president or testing the waters for a presidential run) -- then the Governor should reject all federal monies that could be said to be borrowed. For example, reject all federal highway money and South Carolina can go back to the days of horse and buggies.

Ain't gonna happen because there's no principle here, just politics.

BACKGROUND: "Dumb And Dumber"


UPDATE: The New York Times weighs in ("Courting Disaster in South Carolina") on Sanford's stance in a Monday editorial.

Now that Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina has polished his credentials with the Republican right by recklessly rejecting $700 million in federal education stimulus money, we keep hoping he will change his mind and put the needs of his recession-ravaged state ahead of his political ambitions.