RACIST OR NOT, IT’S JUST DUMB…. One of the oddities of the conservative arguments against economic stimulus is the basis for their fears. Most of the time, they say their biggest concern is massive debt. But that’s not a plausible fear from these guys — Republicans added $5 trillion to the debt in just five years. Now that we need to run deficits, they’re balking?

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R) has a new argument in opposition to economic recovery.

“What you’re doing is buying into the notion that if we just print some more money that we don’t have and send it to different states, we’ll create jobs,” he said. “If that’s the case, why isn’t Zimbabwe a rich place?”

Zimbabwe has been in the throes of an economic meltdown ever since the southern African nation embarked on a chaotic land reform program. Its official inflation rate topped 11 million percent in 2008, with its treasury printing banknotes in the trillion-dollar range to keep up with the plummeting value of its currency.

Sanford added, “Why isn’t Zimbabwe just an incredibly prosperous place. Cause they’re printing money they don’t have and sending it around to their different — I don’t know the towns in Zimbabwe but that same logic is being applied there with little effect.”

House Minority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), a chief Sanford foe, believes race is a factor in the governor’s bizarre comparison. David Kurtz raised the same question: “If you’re the governor and a prominent black congressman from your state says refusing to take stimulus money will disproportionately hurt black citizens of your state, would you turn around and compare the stimulus plan to the economic policy of … Zimbabwe?”

Sanford explained today that the economic stimulus “will result in hyper-inflation,” which relates to Zimbabwe because of its unbelievable 89.7 Sextillion percent inflation. The point, he said, was to point to a country with high inflation, regardless of race.

I’m not sure if race entered Sanford’s mind here or not. But while I have no idea if the governor is a racist, I do know he’s dumb as a sack of hammers.

But putting aside whether or not the governor’s comparison is racist, it’s definitely stupid. Matt explained, “There’s no inflation right now in the United States. None whatsoever. It’s actually a big problem, because it means that our standard macroeconomic stabilization tool — federal reserve open market operations — doesn’t work. Serious inflation would be bad, of course, and Zimbabwe-style hyperinflation would be ruinous, but some increase in inflation would be helpful. It would serve as a real cut in interest rates and help to spur growth. And long before inflation reached problem levels, the Fed could increase nominal rates to head the problem off. Sanford’s just out to sea on this.”

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. 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.