By Sam Tyson email | Twitter
COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC) - The fight over the use of federal stimulus dollars has been playing out over the postal system for over a week.
What started with a written request by South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford to divert $700 million into state debt instead of the programs prescribed by the Economic Investment Act has now escalated into a debate over constitutionality.
Sanford's request was rejected by Pres. Obama. White House Budget Director Peter Orszag penned the note that cited federal stimulus law as preventing Obama for making an exception for South Carolina's share of the stimulus check.
Sanford was not subdued by Obama's rejection and instead fired back another letter. "I've made clear my opposition to using debt to solve a problem created in the first place by too much debt - and I don't believe this to be an unreasonable position."
In the letter, he refined his request to refocus the money into education debt, claiming the effect would be felt immediately and free up more than $160 million in debt services.
Now Sen. Lindsey Graham has joined the letter writing, penning a message to the OMB that questions the constitutionality of the Act's requirement to spend the stimulus in prescribed ways. According to Graham, the fiscal interaction could have implications on the way the 10th Amendment will be interpreted in the future and what that could mean for the interaction between federal and state governments and the governors.
Whether the fight will move into the courts is still to be seen.
Sanford has criticized the $787 billion stimulus plan, saying it will lead to higher taxes and debt. He has taken heat from opponents for his outspoken stance against the stimulus funds, many of whom are calling this an early bid for a 2012 presidential run.