Mark Sanford is really becoming my hero. He’s turning into the leader of the anti-bailout, pro-fiscal responsibility and libertarian wing of the party, the one where I think the future lies and from which good policy will eventually emerge. Here’s his letter to President Bush:
The Honorable George W. Bush
United States of America
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Southwest
Washington, D.C. 20502
Dear Mr. President,
I write in response to reporting over the weekend that your administration is considering using TARP funds to circumvent the United States Senate’s actions on Thursday and thereby unilaterally bail out Detroit auto companies. I do so with the greatest personal respect for you and the office of the presidency.
I believe this would be a very great mistake. It would open the floodgates to federal monies for every distressed industry across this country—and there will be many in this economic slowdown. The American public was sold on the original TARP proposal based on the explanation that the banking industry held a unique and universal role in our nation’s economy in providing credit to every business and family. If we now abandon that nexus to credit, every struggling industry would see itself potentially eligible for these funds. Your own administration made this very cogent argument only last week.
What’s unfolding now is ultimately bigger than credit in our financial system and distressed businesses. We are placing an unhealthy and unprecedented level of debt on present taxpayers and future generations. And I believe we are at a tipping point in moving from a market-based economy to a politically-based economy, wherein one’s success can be determined not by good decisions and hard work, but by the size of one’s voice and connection to Washington.
The real economic stimulus of our country lies in the daily work and effort of the millions you have seen across this land. These bailouts represent not only an enormous cost that they will be left to carry, but a shattering of the rights and responsibilities that have historically been linked to achieving the American Dream.
I urge you to consider these consequences as you act on behalf of our nation, and it’s for this reason that I ask you not to take this course of action.
Now, I understand the point that Republicans don’t want to be the party that killed Detroit, because Michiganders are never going to accept the fact, obvious to anyone whose state does not border Lake Erie that it was suicide by neglect. But all the same, it’s so obviously naked corporate welfare of the grossest and most overt sort. So it’s good politics, and good policy. I cannot help but approve.
Auto industries from outside of Detroit are doing — well, not just fine, but let’s call it “survivably well,” which is all you can ask for when times are tough. GM, Ford, and Chrysler can compete in the contemporary marketplace. They need to change to do it, though. And bailing them out is not the way to get them to make those changes.