Should Taxpayers Bail Out California?

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This is a rush transcript from "Glenn Beck," May 19, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GLENN BECK, HOST: I got to go to South Carolina, to Republican Governor Mark Sanford. He vetoed the stimulus funds in the state budget, telling state legislators to start all over again. He joins us now.

Governor, how are you, sir?

GOV. MARK SANFORD, R-S.C.: I'm doing fine.

BECK: Good. You know, I'm always thrilled to have you on the program. Here we are, the government did an end run around you, went right to the state legislators and said, "You know what, don't listen to him. We'll give that money to you anyway." And now, we're going in — we're going to bail out California.

Video: Watch Beck's interview

Does it amaze you that we are using California as a role model for our federal government instead of anything that resembles responsible?

SANFORD: Well, it's not all that surprising, given the atrocious numbers that you see coming out of Washington, D.C. David Walker, former comptroller general of the United States of America, has traveled the country on what he calls the "Fiscal Wake-Up Tour," talking about how, in essence, we're going to imprison the next generation with just scary levels of debt, based on the course we're on.

So, it's not all that surprising, given the numbers that, in fact, exist in Washington. But it's particularly harmful going back to Ben's comments, to the folks that live in other parts of America. If a state government has been prudent with regard to its finances, if they tried to hold the line on their pension fund benefits — I mean, take for instance, why should a firefighter or policeman in California get a much more generous level of benefit than a firefighter or a policeman who puts himself just as much in harm's way in South Carolina?

Now, if the states are paying for it on their own — by all means, your choice, your money. But it shouldn't be that the firefighter or the policeman in South Carolina ends up bailing out the guy in California or the gal in California. And too often, that's the case with the California model.

BEN STEIN, ECONOMIST: We have a situation in Malibu where we have an astounding number of millionaires and in the same newspaper, local newspaper, where they talk about how broke the government is, they talk about how rich are and how they raise $300,000 for charity at the drop of a hat.

I don't understand why somebody in Clinton, South California, a janitor at Presbyterian College should be paying his taxes to bail out people in Malibu so they can rebuild a Chumash village.

BECK: Let me tell you something, Governor — I like to run this both by both of you, guys. I think — look here's what the big problem is right now, in places like New Jersey, places — Maryland, New York, Connecticut — people are moving away from these states that have gigantic income taxes that are out of control. The government has got to stop the exit. They've got to block the exits.

So, if they bail out California, they bail out Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, what would stop them from saying, "You know what, let's just stop with the state taxes because we just all have to be in this together, we just all have to help each other"? And instead of — instead of rewarding states like yours or Texas, that's trying to be responsible, they will just penalize. They'll just take that money and it will be the end of state rights.

STEIN: I think that's part of the plan.

BECK: I do, too.

SANFORD: And that's exactly why — I'm sorry, we have a delay lag. I apologize.

BECK: That's all right.

SANFORD: I think that's exactly why you saw these tea parties erupt across this country where people are genuinely, at a gut level, saying, "Wait a minute, there's something going wrong here, because this is the undoing of that which made this country great in the first place."

BECK: So, would...

SANFORD: The genius of America is individual initiatives, and if all of a sudden you bail out everybody who doesn't make the same tough choices, you destroy the individual initiatives that make this country great.

I'm sorry, Glenn, go ahead.

BECK: So, do you believe that that is an agenda point? Do you believe that there is — there is any kind of serious thought that, yes, we could do that?

SANFORD: I hope not. And again, I don't believe in the conspiracy theory...


SANFORD: I'll just give people the benefits of the doubt. I give them the benefit of the doubt and I'll say, it's just incredibly stupid policy that's going to really encumber my four boys, your kids and grandkids, and a lot of other folks that are out there.

BECK: How would you — how do you respond — how do you feel about the federal government coming in and basically saying, "You know what, forget about your governor, forget about your governor"? I mean, here, you tried to — you had to actually go and veto things like newly created "Capital Police Force" aimed at protecting entrances to the legislators' garage, a provision that prevents exploring privatization of state-owned golf course parks that lose $500,000 — why do you have state-owned golf courses in the first place?


BECK: I mean, what do you — what do you...

SANFORD: Amen to that. That's why we're trying to say — we're trying to say we ought to privatize them. I mean, in other words, if there's anything that South Carolina private sector has shown a great capacity for, it's running golf courses.

You go to Myrtle Beach, you go to Hilton Head, you go to the — all kinds of corners of South Carolina, this is something the private sector can do well. It's not something the government needs to do. But there's actually a proviso in the budget that prevents us from even exploring the option of privatizing golf courses.

And so, yes, there are a lot of zany things in the budget. But the really, really zany thing is the federal government stepping in with a massive amount of new money that prevents us from making some hard choices that are necessary to us becoming competitive over the long run.

BECK: Governor, where were you on, for instance, Head Start, when George Bush said, "Hey, by the way, you need to do this Head Start thing"? Did you take that money?

Why are you against this spending now? Because that's the charge against people these days, that — you know, all of a sudden — oh, now, you're, all of a sudden, against spending.

SANFORD: Well, I've got a very well-chronicled voting record of 15 years in politics. You know, I was rated number one in the National Taxpayers Union, Citizens Against Government Waste, and all the different merit badges that one earns, in making really, really tough votes back when I was in Congress. But the reason that so many of us have stood up as we have, is that this is a new windfall of money.

So, what we've tried to do in an executive branch role, whether it's me or Bobby Jindal or Sarah Palin or Rick Perry or go down the list of governors, is to say, all right, you can't reinvent the wheel with regard to current government programs — Medicaid, et cetera, that comes into our state. But if you look at a brand new government program that, in this case, is billions of dollars that will very much undermine our ability to make our state more competitive over the long run, you better stand up and be counted.

And that's what, again, I'm doing on this and...


SANFORD: ...of other governors from different corners of the country.

STEIN: It's perfectly sensible to take two aspirin, but the government is saying, "No, you have to take 100 aspirin."

BECK: Yes. No, this isn't even aspirin, this is poison.

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