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Echo Chamber – The Young Guns June 24, 2007

Posted by fitsnews in SC Politics.

nikki haley


FITSNews – June 24, 2007 – With a preponderance of ominous storm clouds darkening South Carolina’s political horizon, it’s often impossible to see anything resembling a silver lining. And while we’ll be the first to admit we’re not terribly adept at recognizing the “brighter side” of things, our state leaders have consistently disappointed us on taxes, spending, school choice, government restructuring and a host of other pro-business, pro-conservative (not to mention “pro-Republican”) reforms. As a result, the Palmetto State continues to languish economically, educationally and governmentally … making our pessimism remarkably well-founded.

Sadly, the recently concluded legislative session in Columbia was among the most acrimonious and least productive in history. Despite enjoying total control of state government, Republicans have abdicated that power wholly and completely to Democrats over the past five years – growing government by 40%, refusing to pass meaningful tax relief, rejecting real school choice and further decentralizing our state’s antiquated and inefficient 19th Century government. To top it all off, they even joined up with the Democrats this year to put a liberal judge on the State Supreme Court.

Yet beneath the surface cesspool of shameful self-interest and abandoned ideologies, a “common sense” caucus is emerging that could be the rock on which a truly fiscal conservative government is born.

Comprised mostly of first and second-term House members, these “Young Guns” are beginning to make their presence felt in Columbia, and four years from now they could easily constitute a majority of the current House “Republicrat” caucus.

While not marching uniformly in lockstep on every issue, these common sense conservatives are nonetheless beginning to coalesce as a foil to the “Joan Brady Caucus,” a band of fourteen rogue Republicans with voting records that would make even the yellowest of “Yellow Dog” Democrats blush.

According to an exclusive FITSNews analysis of their votes on key fiscal conservative issues, the most promising “Young Guns” in the S.C. House would seem to be:

Nathan Ballentine
Eric Bedingfield
Kenny Bingham
Jeff Duncan
Marion Frye
Ben Hagood
Nikki Haley (pictured)
Jimmy Merrill
Mick Mulvaney
Ted Pitts
Phillip Shoopman
Gary Smith
Murrell Smith
Scott Talley
Mac Toole
Thad Viers

More often than not, these members are in the trenches battling for the taxpayers against the Democratic-leaning “Brady Caucus,” which our voting analysis indicates is comprised of:

Joan Brady
Harry Cato
Bill Cotty
Mike Gambrell
Carl Gullick
Davey Hiott
Keith Kelly
Lanny Littlejohn
Skipper Perry
Gene Pinson
Bill Sandifer
Don Smith
Adam Taylor
Bill Whitmire

Stuck in the middle are the remainder of House Republicans, including the vast majority of the directionless GOP leadership. Of course with the Republican Caucus fractured as it is into three distinct groups, the real leadership in Palmetto politics right now is the Democratic Caucus, which can always peel off enough Republicrat votes to preserve the status quo and block common sense reforms.

Moving outside of the House Chamber we are confronted with yet another ideological tug-of-war, the increasingly impotent bully pulpit of Gov. Mark Sanford versus the monolithic fiscal irresponsibility of the State Senate – whose “common sense” caucus consists of perhaps five Republicans … on a good day.

Sanford – a lame duck the moment he was reelected – has sought to partner with the House in an effort to shame the Senate into action. But with the exception of workers’ comp reform – a rare pro-growth victory amid a flood of stunning defeats – Senators under the thumb of former Democrat Hugh Leatherman obliterated the governor’s “triangulation” strategy.

Now the only question is, will there be a reckoning?

To be sure, interest in the 2008 election cycle thusfar has focused almost exclusively on the presidential candidates, but the coming year could prove to be a defining one for Palmetto politicians as well.

Will the “Young Guns” of the common sense caucus expand their ranks and reclaim the Republican Party’s Reagan-esque roots? Or will the “Brady Caucus” preserve its ability to deliver key votes en masse to the Democratic Party?

And what about the Senate? With every seat potentially up for grabs, will the body most responsible for keeping our state stuck in neutral at last begin to develop a fiscal conservative core of its own?

Finally, will the real Gov. Sanford please stand up? Sanford’s mercurial allegiance and inept advancement of the principles he was elected to champion must be replaced by some semblance of consistency and competence. Simply put, will he start using the limited power of his office to unflinchingly support those ideas and individuals supporting him? Or will he continue to take “one slice of the loaf” in an effort to look good in the newspapers?

Only time will tell, but the governor’s veto of a vacuous public school “choice” bill was a step in the right direction for an administration whose affinity for political expediency had moved well beyond the realm of flirtation.

Come to think of it, silver linings are popping up everywhere these days. We just have to see them for what they’re worth, and seize upon them when they’re worthwhile.



1. Aillis - June 24, 2007

Nice post, FITS….

But the simple fact is that Gov Sanford is a complete failure. Virtually every item he proposes (of any importance) is ignored or worse yet, rammed down his throat.

With a republican general assembly he has squandered a great opportunity to change SC…and worse yet he will leave the republican party a shell of itself. Sure, “republicans” still win elections, but many have the values of democrats so what does it matter. He has allowed the party to be turned into a fiefdom by a handful intent on personal gain and advancement.

Mark Sanford promotes Mark Sanford, and to hell with everyone else. His record demonstrates this…and since I voted for his twice I share some of the blame. But I will never repeat that mistake again…so Lindsay…count me out.

2. Give Me FITS - June 25, 2007

Personally, I would have liked to see a nice photo of Mac Toole here…or that picture of Jimmy Merrill with the kitty on his chest.

Wait a second…that wasn’t Merrill, was it?

Crafty guy, this enigmatic “Will Folks.” IF that is his real name.

3. Gal Leo - June 25, 2007

Don’t blame the Brady Caucus. They only do what they think will get them re-elected, and quite frankly, bringing home the bacon does tend to get one re-elected. John Spratt recently ran an open and honest campaign promising that he could and would bring home more pork…and we know how that election went.

No, the real problem is the voters, for whom fiscal conservatism is an ephemeral goal, easily and eagerly dismissed once they get a chance to get their piece of the pie.

Whether or not Tytler actually said it (see:http://www.snopes.com/politics/quotes/tyler.asp), the sentiment is correct: once the people figure out how to get their hands on the public money, the only possible result is the collapse of the system.

And boy, have they figured it out.

Kudos to the common sense folks, though. It is always nice to think that politicians might — FOR ONCE? — do something motivated by a principal other than re-election.

4. Top Posts « WordPress.com - June 25, 2007

[…] Echo Chamber – The Young Guns [image] SOUTH CAROLINA’S EMERGING “COMMON SENSE” CAUCUS FITSNews – June 24, 2007 – With a […] […]

5. Dave VanHinkel - June 26, 2007

Em eye el eff!

6. DEVO re-unites in 2007? : Nathan Ballentine - December 7, 2007

[…] in good company as many of these are officials that I consider among my closest friends in the State House. They also happen to be very intelligent, fair minded, and willing to take […]

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