South Carolina has spent $3.7 billion of federal dollars from the stimulus package, says State Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom.
Taxpayers didn’t get anything out of this. All of that spending in South Carolina did exactly what it was suppose to do and that was create government, grow government. I think Washington knew this was a government growth initiative.
This federal money, from the Recovery and Reinvestment Act President Obama signed two years ago, was intended to give South Carolina up to $8 billion. Governor Sanford warned the state not to take the money as he fought the Obama Administration, taking his opposition to the South Carolina Supreme Court, where he lost. Now, Republicans say the state is in worse conditions from taking the money–a short-term fix. Democrats; however, say the money helped South Carolina save jobs, provided a variety of new healthcare service and kept school class sizes down.
Eckstrom, an outspoken critic of federal stimulus money, says there was an underlying ill-intention behind the Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
I think it’s obvious that the intent of the act was to make the states more dependent on the federal government. The state of South Carolina has always been an independent state, has always gone its own way. We sacrificed our independence this time. I can’t understand state officials clamoring to give up our independence as a state.
Eckstrom says the money will eventually have to be paid back, but he doesn’t know how that is going to happen.
This is foreign money that we are spending, and eventually the state of South Carolina is not going to have to pay it back. There was that argument made as justification for taking it in the first place, but that was a bogus argument. The federal government is going to have to pay the Chinese government back eventually, over the next 20 years or so.
The Comptroller General says about 40 percent of South Carolina’s $3.7 billion has gone towards unemployment benefits.
Eckstrom says there are some government officials who are concerned about taking the federal dollars, but then, Eckstrom says there are others:
There are others who are just there to bring home the bacon to their districts, and to make it seem like they are solving problems by taking this money, when, in effect what they are doing is digging the hole deeper, and making it almost impossible to crawl out of the hole.
Eckstrom was just elected to another term as state Comptroller General.