Of all the revelations to emerge from S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford’s entirely self-inflicted (and ongoing) political implosion, the one that damages his once-potent “brand” the most is that he partook of the same taxpayer-funded perks that his office denied to other government employees.
First-class airfare, luxurious hotel stays, lavish meals … these amenities weren’t permitted for other state employees in Sanford’s Cabinet, but apparently they were good enough for the governor.
This goes straight to the heart of Sanford’s fiscal conservative cred, and rips open a gigantic, sucking hole in the carefully-maintained cabin pressure of his political comfort zone.
With his fiscal credentials taking a beating, Sanford is turning increasingly to what we call the “King David” strategy in his bid to resuscitate his moribund standing with the people of South Carolina – i.e. overt appeals to social conservatives, who are by and large “easy forgivers.” But the governor may find little long-term fruit in this approach.
You see, until he got caught cheating on his wife with Argentine lover Maria Belen Chapur, Sanford never paid more than lip service to social conservatism. Now, all of a sudden, he’s quoting Scripture like Jack Van Impe.
Social conservatives may be willing to forgive, but they can also spot a fake … and someone using “forgiveness” exclusively for political salvation is not likely to earn their sustained favor.
Back to the dollars and cents, though. The real “bigger picture” issue here, as far as we’re concerned, isn’t what sort of ticket Sanford upgraded to, it’s why he was on the plane to begin with …
The governor has always advocated (we thought) for a “soil conditions” approach to economic development, arguing that if a suitable tax, regulatory and business environment were created, that jobs and capital investment would come. This approach differs considerably from the “rifle shot” method of granting hundreds of millions in taxpayer incentives to lure larger firms like BMW.
Clearly, Sanford lost this battle. Lawmakers repeatedly – and with great relish – rejected the vast majority of his pro-business agenda, choosing to keep in place “the way it’s always been done.” The result? Record unemployment, which they ironically blame on Sanford – and which he may well shoulder some of the blame for now that we learn he’s been boondoggling it up on taxpayer-funded “economic development” trips.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, people, it is not government’s job to create jobs and capital investment.
All government can do is tax less and get the *#&% out of the way.
Jobs and capital investment go where they are wanted, and picking winners and losers in the marketplace through incentives – or more recently this nonsense – is clearly an approach that has failed our state.
Frankly, we thought Sanford knew that …
Update – Yes, that is Chapur on Sanford’s screen … a nice touch (we know).
Artwork: Young Squire Creative for FITS