Mark Sanford on Budget & Economy

Republican SC Governor; previously Representative (SC-1)


Nearing point of no return on government spending & debt

I invested the better part of my professional life in trying to limit the size and scope of government--and the bi-product of much of its growth in the form of debt and deficits. It's been a bee in my bonnet for a long time. Though I have been out of office for six months my beliefs on the importance of these issues have not dissipated, and every one of us can do what we can do to affect in some small way the world around us. I haven't stopped thinking about the ways in which our present spending course will prove catastrophic for our way of life and our country.

Specifically, I think we are nearing a point of no return on government spending, debt and accumulating deficits. Historically these are the things that have rotted civilizations from within. And what I find frightening is that seemingly no one in Washington is talking about this problem--and how this issue mathematically is now at our doorstep. This is not just a problem for our kids and grand-kids. This is our problem.

Source: 2020 presidential campaign website MarkSanford.com , Jul 16, 2019

Republican Party has lost its way on debt & spending

Almost a year after President Donald Trump urged voters to reject Mark Sanford, the former South Carolina congressman is considering a Republican presidential run of his own against Trump in 2020. Sanford, in an interview with The Post and Courier, confirmed he will take the next month to formulate a potential run against Trump as a way of pushing a national debate about America's mounting debt, deficit and government spending. He would run as a Republican.

"Sometimes in life you've got to say what you've got to say, whether there's an audience or not for that message," Sanford said. "I feel convicted."

Since leaving office in January, Sanford said he has been privately mulling whether to run for the nation's highest office. He described the internal debate as a drumbeat that never went away. "I'm a Republican. I think the Republican Party has lost its way on debt, spending and financial matters," he said.

Source: Charleston Post and Courier on 2020 presidential hopefuls , Jul 16, 2019

Tipping point as civilization if we don't get spending right

Sanford stressed his efforts to rein in spending as a 3-term member of Congress and 2-term governor, noting that he was the first governor to turn back economic stimulus funds. "It all goes back to Nancy Pelosi and others. They have not pushed for financial discipline in Washington, D.C.," he said.

"We're at an incredible tipping point as a civilization and I think if we don't get spending right in Washington, D.C., there will be real consequences," Sanford said. "I've gotten into this race with the hope of taking what I've learned in Congress, what I learned in the governorship and what I've learned on the way up and on the way down and applying it to what I believe is the great debate of our civilization, which is indeed, how do we get our financial house in order."

Colbert Busch portrayed things differently. "Here's the fundamental difference. This is not the end of our time as we know it," she said. "The sky is not falling Henny Penny. In fact our best days are ahead of us."

Source: News12 on 2013 S.C. House District 1 debate , Apr 29, 2013

2004: Vetoed 106 pork projects; overridden on 105

At the time I entered the legislature, Governor Mark Sanford was leading something of a revolution in South Carolina. For generations, a good old boy system had run Columbia. It wasn't so much Democrat-versus-Republicans politics in the legislature as it was go-along-to-get-along politics. Legislators supported other members' pork projects, secure in the knowledge that their colleagues would return the favor when it was their turn at the trough. The result was that first Democrats and later Republicans created and nurtured a bloated, inefficient state government.

Governor Sanford attacked the good old boy system head on. He consistently vetoed legislators' overspending and pork projects, and they hated him for it. He would send down budget vetoes and the GOP-led legislature would summarily override them. The year before I came to the house, in 2004, Governor Sanford issued 106 budget vetoes. The legislature took just 90 minutes to override 105 of them.

Source: Can't Is Not an Option, by Gov. Nikki Haley, p. 61 , Apr 3, 2012

2009: Reject stimulus funds; reject Washington bailouts

I supported Governor Sanford in his fight for South Carolina to reject the stimulus funds because I believed the bill took our state--and our country--in exactly the wrong direction. It mandated more spending instead of less and encouraged us to avoid the difficult but necessary tasks of prioritizing the way we used tax-payers' money and reigning in government.

In the spring of 2009, Governor Sanford had waged a fierce (and ultimately unsuccessful) battle against the spending, even against its funding for South Carolina. His principled, fiscally conservative stand didn't sit too well with the national media or the South Carolina establishment, but it made him a hero to many South Carolinians and others across the country. Not only did he fight the stimulus, but he also fought the Washington bailouts, whether they were of the banks or the auto companies.

Source: Can't Is Not an Option, by Gov. Nikki Haley, p. 73&79 , Apr 3, 2012

Limit spending increases to population growth plus inflation

Our number one priority has been and continues to be to cut income taxes for individuals & small businesses in South Carolina. The proposed FY ‘06-07 Executive Budget limited state government spending increases to population plus inflation, and proposed returning more than $380 million to South Carolinians in the form of a tax rebate.

With our unemployment rate continuing to lag the national average, we will persist in our push for a lower income tax rate for all South Carolinians so we can reverse this trend. We have effectively the highest income tax rate in the Southeast and the 5th highest rate in the nation and we believe that a lower rate will give South Carolina a competitive advantage when it comes to attracting jobs and encouraging business start-ups. Whether attracting new jobs and capital or looking to grow from within, we must remain competitive with other states (Florida has no income tax) and other nations (even Russia & China are lowering rates) if we are to compete globally.

Source: 2006 Gubernatorial website, SanfordForGovernor.com, “Issues” , Nov 7, 2006

Deficit spending hurts private business & personal finances

Politicians in our nation’s capitol were unable--or unwilling--to control spending. Federal borrowing to cover the deficit was competing with the capital available for the private sector, which consequently was making it tougher for me to earn a living. The more money the politicians sunk into their schemes, the more expensive it got for the rest of us to borrow money. The more I thought about it, the more it bothered me. I couldn’t expand my businesses because the politicians kept expanding theirs.
Source: The Trust Committed to Me, by Mark Sanford, p. 28 , Nov 4, 2000

Incumbents spend more tax funds the longer they’re in office

A well documented but little discussed study by the National Taxpayers Union showed that regardless of party, the longer a person is in office, the greater his tendency to spend the taxpayers’ money. It’s not that representatives become evil people--just that they’re human. Basic biology teaches how remarkable adaptable human beings are to the world around us. Unfortunately, Washington is a place where large sums of money become rounding errors. Over time, congressmen become accustomed to the large sums and the inevitable rounding errors that are part and parcel of the political process. And while being in Washington may change the lawmaker’s perspective, what doesn’t change is how hard folks at home must work to send that same money to Capitol Hill. For me this always meant less is more when it comes to term limits. The fewer number of years in office, the less time to grow accustomed to the idea that $50 million is a rounding error.
Source: The Trust Committed to Me, by Mark Sanford, p. 17 , Nov 4, 2000

Federal deficit weakens dollar against foreign currencies

In 1995 the budget debate led to a government shutdown. At the time of the debate, our nation’s debt was nearly $5 trillion and growing faster than the economy. Even today, in the era of “balanced budgets,” that is still the case. If we stay on our current course, we’ll continue to see our dollar, and consequently, everything you and I own, fall in value.

Twenty years ago, the dollar was worth 360 yen. Today it’s worth slightly more than 100 yen. In official Washington, this fact is indeed cause for alarm. But far from worrying that our currency has lost more than half its value during that time. Government policymakers often tell us our currency is too strong--and should be weakened even further.

Source: The Trust Committed to Me, by Mark Sanford, p. 52 , Nov 4, 2000

No congressional pay raise until budget is balanced

People don’t go to Congress for the money. They go because it affords them the chance to affect policy. To ask for a salary level seven times higher than the national average is asking too much. In the summer of 1999, I offered an amendment to hold the president’s pay at $200,000, rather than double it to $400,000. The amendment had little to do with the president’s compensation package, which in total is worth several million dollars a year. It had everything to do with a glass ceiling on member pay. Members knew they could never legitimize paying Congressmen and Senators more than the president’s visible wage.

All these machinations aside, the basic point was this: we did not deserve a raise. If the budget is actually balanced in five years, then Congress may want to consider a raise. I don’t think it will be. One of my campaign promises had been not to take a pay raise until the budget was balanced--because if Congress is serious about spending less, we ought to begin with ourselves.

Source: The Trust Committed to Me, by Mark Sanford, p. 69-71 , Nov 4, 2000

Highway bills are congressional bribery

Young boys often receive party favors after attending another child’s birthday party. Transportation Committee members got the “mother” of all party favors for attending and supporting Bud Shuster’s [the committee chairman’s] mark-up. Friends of the committee and House members facing tough reelection fights got $20 million to $30 million. Everybody else got around $15 million--but only if they voted for the entire bill. If a Congressman refused to vote for the bill, or was sitting on the fence, Shuster tried to bribe them.

Others were unhappy too. Self-limited members took to the house floor and voiced genuine outrage with this highway bill.

The likely result of breaking the caps for highways would be a mad rush to break the caps on every other government program. After all, how could the other House committee chairmen sit by and watch Bud Shuster get everything he wanted, and more, and not draw the conclusion that they were entitled to oodles more money, too?

Source: The Trust Committed to Me, by Mark Sanford, p. 72&75 , Nov 4, 2000

Sponsored bill allowing $3 on tax form to pay National Debt.

Sanford sponsored allowing $3 on 1040 form to pay off National Debt

OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: Amends the Internal Revenue Code to permit an individual to designate three dollars on his or her income tax return (six dollars on a joint return) to be used to reduce the public debt of the United States.

SPONSOR'S INTRODUCTORY STATEMENT: Pres. Eisenhower apparently once said that he believed that there could be no surplus as long as our Nation was in debt. I come from that school of thought, and yet that is not exactly where we are right now in Washington.

Where we are right now is debating whether or not 90 percent or 50 percent, or some number in between, of these projected future surpluses should be allocated to the debt. What struck me is the fact that really more than just the Congress should be involved in that debate. It is for that reason that I introduce today the Taxpayers' Choice Debt Reduction Act.

What this bill would do would be to simply take the 1040, the tax return as we now know it. And right now, we can send $3 to the presidential campaign. This would create another box wherein we could send 3 bucks to debt reduction. That is not enough money to change our national debt, but it is enough money to make a small step in an important debate that we all ought to be a part of.

LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME: Referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means; never called for a House vote.

Source: Taxpayers' Choice Debt Reduction Act (H.R.5349) 00-HR5349 on Sep 29, 2000

Demand a Balanced Budget amendment.

Sanford signed the Contract From America

The Contract from America, clause 3. Demand a Balanced Budget:

Begin the Constitutional amendment process to require a balanced budget with a two-thirds majority needed for any tax hike.

Source: The Contract From America 10-CFA03 on Jul 8, 2010

Limit federal spending growth to per-capita inflation rate.

Sanford signed the Contract From America

The Contract from America, clause 6. End Runaway Government Spending:

Impose a statutory cap limiting the annual growth in total federal spending to the sum of the inflation rate plus the percentage of population growth.

Source: The Contract From America 10-CFA06 on Jul 8, 2010

Audit the Federal Reserve & its actions on mortgage loans.

Sanford co-sponsored Federal Reserve Transparency Act

The Federal Reserve Transparency Act directs: