What is Mark Sanford talking about?

WHAT IS MARK SANFORD TALKING ABOUT?…. The Wall Street Journal has a report today on Republican governors, restricted by balanced-budget requirements, who suddenly find themselves considering tax increases. The piece included this gem:

South Carolina’s Gov. Sanford is resisting the urge to propose or accept raising taxes. Faced with a shortfall, Gov. Sanford reconvened the state Legislature in October, and it made $488 million in targeted budget cuts.

Gov. Sanford, unlike most of his colleagues, speaks out against any federal bailouts, including a fiscal stimulus bill that is likely to include state aid. “When times go south you cut spending,” Gov. Sanford said. “That’s what families do, that’s what businesses do, and I don’t think the government should be exempt from that process.”

There was no indication in the article that Sanford was kidding.

Sanford isn’t just some random conservative blowhard, ranting at the end of a bar; he’s a governor and alleged “rising star” in Republican politics. That he has no idea what he’s talking about is apparently inconsequential.

Publius does his level best to set Sanford straight: “This is of course dead wrong — and confuses microeconomics with macro, as any student of Econ 101 could tell you. The micro-considerations of an individual family or business has nothing much to do with what governments need to do to get the larger economy moving again. Even worse, it’s often affirmatively harmful to adopt microeconomic solutions to macroeconomic problems.”

That’s obviously true. But what worries me most is that Sanford’s bizarre ideas are common in the Republican Party mainstream. Two weeks ago, denouncing the idea of an aggressive stimulus package, House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said, “We’re in tough economic times. Folks are hurting. But the American people know that more Washington spending isn’t the answer.”

So, to hear GOP leaders tell it, the appropriate response to the current crisis is less investment and more spending cuts.

I’d like to assume that Sanford, Boehner, and other conservatives don’t want to deliberately destroy the economy, so perhaps it’s best if they take this opportunity to enjoy a little quiet time.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.