South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford is warning President Bush to back away from using the $700 billion Wall Street bailout for ailing Big Three automakers, saying doing so would fundamentally alter the nation's economy.
In a letter sent to the White House on Monday, the Republican governor says Bush would be committing a "very great mistake" that would "open the floodgates to federal monies for every distressed industry across this country -- and there will be many in this economic slowdown."
Sanford, a potential 2012 contender for the GOP nomination, is siding with the anti-bailout wing of his party that is furious with Bush for trying to prop up the Detroit automakers and help distressed banks. He also is siding with his fellow Southern politicians who have sparred with Northern Republicans who hail from manufacturing states that are heavily unionized and have a significant Big Three presence.
"And I believe we are at a tipping point in moving from a market-based economy to a politically-based economy, wherein one's success can be determined not by good decisions and hard work, but by the size of one's voice and connection to Washington," he said.
After a $14-billion auto loan package failed in the Senate last week, the White House announced it was considering reversing course and using money originally intended for banks to save the Big Three and the millions of jobs relying on them.