Showdown on S.C. unemployment funds to come at high noon

Update December 31: Sanford has asked for the loan. Go read more.

First reporting: Governor Mark Sanford is announcing his decision on whether or not to get more money for the state's unemployment fund today at 12:15 p.m.

If he does not ask for the money, it is said the Employment Security Commission will run out of money to pay unemployment benefits as of today.

It's hard to imagine that Sanford will let his inquisition come to that.

The background and analysis

If you haven't been following the issue, South Carolina is paying out some $12 million a week in unemployment and is running short on cash.

The federal government has more than enough money ready to lend -- at the request of a governor. But our governor, Mark Sanford, has been very unhappy with the lack of auditing and amount of wasteful spending by our Employment Security Commission. So, Sanford has used his position to tell the commission it has to submit to audits and disclose records before it can get more money.

The Employment Security Commission has said: No way.

Part of a press release from the governor's office:
Yesterday, the ESC balked at signing a memorandum from the governor that would have committed them to an audit and to data sharing within six months. Instead, the ESC responded with a weakened document that removed their commitment to an LAC audit, removed any deadline for compliance, and allowed them to terminate the agreement at any time.

FITSNews has a good piece analyzing the situation, and I rather agree with this section:
While we disagree with the governor’s methods in this case (and have stated so previously), you have to admire the guy’s consistency.

He’s willing to play Scrooge in order to make the larger point that millions of taxpayer dollars are being wasted each year on a bureaucracy that doesn’t accurately measure the number of unemployed South Carolinians, refuses to share the limited information it does gather and has displayed a stunning inability to manage its money, deliver benefits in a timely fashion and crack down on rampant fraud and abuse.

No matter how much flak Sanford takes for his actions, it doesn't really matter as he's already announced he's not running again and the Legislature basically hates the guy already.

Finally, in defense of Sanford

There's no shortage of articles in newspapers around the state today that are denouncing Sanford's actions. But they're all written as though we aren't getting the money, as long as he asks for the money by today, no one is going to miss their unemployment check.

I agree, that Sanford will need to be tarred and feathered if he doesn't ask for the money in the end. But, until then, he's not hurt the unemployed.

Here's a bit about why Sanford feels his actions are justified, from an editorial he wrote:
A loan without reforming our unemployment benefits system will mean one thing down the road -- a tax increase on businesses. What's already being contemplated will mean roughly doubling the tax employers pay for unemployment insurance. Doubling this tax from the current $300 million will mean a less competitive business climate--and by extension higher unemployment and less economic opportunity.

This mess Sanford has stirred up isn't fun, but neither will be more taxes -- which will lead to more unemployment.