Following the lead of a number of his fellow Republican governors, Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC) has given some indication that he will not accept some of the money slated for South Carolina in the $787 billion economic recovery bill President Obama signed into law last week. “At times it sounds like the Soviet grain quotas of Stalin’s time,” Sanford said yesterday on Fox News.
On C-SPAN’s Washington Journal this morning, Sanford received a call from a Charleston resident who said he lost his job because he has been taking care of mother and sister, both of whom have serious illnesses. The caller told Sanford he is “wrong” to decline the money. “A lot of people in South Carolina are hurting. And if this money can come and help us out we need it.” In response, Sanford could offer him only his prayers:
CALLER: I hope you all are not playing politics with this. People in South Carolina are hurting. You know how unemployment rates are high right now and going up higher. We are running out of money in the unemployment bank — we need money for that, the people that need help. And I’m one of them, I can’t get no help. […]
SANFORD: Well I’d say hello to Charleston because its home and I’d say hello to this fellow this morning and say that my prayers are going to be with him and his family because it sounds like he is in an awfully tough spot.
Sanford offered no other alternative solution for his constituent and instead argued that the state could not accept money to extend unemployment benefits because “increasing the tax on unemployment insurance” would negatively “impact the caller’s family” (although he didn’t say how).
Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) — who sponsored an amendment to the stimulus bill that would allow state legislatures to “accept stimulus funding over the objections of conservative governors” — chastised Sanford on MSNBC this morning. “This program is an opportunity for Governor Sanford to target” the “chronically unemployed” and “chronically sick” communities in South Carolina. “I have got to believe that he is willing…to help these communities,” Clyburn said, asking,”Why won’t he?”