Like a growing contingent in the Lowcountry, Mark Sanford is unemployed.
After ending his quixotic Republican challenge to President Donald Trump, Sanford retreated to what he calls “the Farm,” family property at Coosaw Plantation an hour south of Charleston. Describing himself as “random ex-governor trying to figure out what he’s going to do next,” Sanford has mostly kept to himself during the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the state and nation
But the former governor and unapologetic libertarian still has thoughts — a lot of them — on the federal government’s ever-growing debt, especially with the recently approved $2.2 trillion aid and stimulus package.
Those $1,200 checks for taxpayers are “nonsensical and dangerous in economic terms,” in Sanford’s estimation.
“These are non-offset funds, which means we are going straight to the Chinese and other lenders around the world or to ourselves and borrowing the money,” he said. “You’re putting in the one pocket and taking out the other … We’re digging some mighty, mighty holes.”
As governor, Sanford tried to reject the 2009 federal stimulus, passed in response to the Great Recession. A short battle ensued, leading to the state Supreme Court making a ruling and releasing the money. (A headline from the time said Sanford got “trumped.”)
For a few months in 2019, Sanford sought to create a national dialogue on fiscal responsibility mounting a GOP presidential primary challenge. He gained little traction before ending “the presidential thing.” Trumped again.
In the current crisis, Sanford said the federal government should be doing what families in the Lowcountry are doing right now: prioritize spending. He said sending people a check that accounts for a small percentage of their personal income in a time when evictions and foreclosures are halted will likely just lead to folks hoarding cash, not spending in stores that may not even be open.
“People are not going to go on a spending binge on this when they are fearing what is going to happen next,” he said.
Unlike the 2009 stimulus, which was doled out through states, this year’s disbursements will be sent directly from the federal government. Meaning, there’s no way for any Sanford-esque governors to turn down the aid dollars.
As far as advice to current Republican Gov. Henry McMaster at this time? He offered no advice on the unfolding coronavirus crisis, which has claimed 31 lives as of Thursday afternoon. State officials project that about 8,000 total people could test positive for the deadly virus by the next time we tear off a calendar page.
“Children are to be seen and not heard, at least little ones, and I think ex-governors should be seen and not heard unless they are called upon,” Sanford said. “If he needs me, he knows how to track me down.”