Tuesday, December 14, 2010

"Then Give Us Our Money Back"

You may think the title refers to the current tax battle currently going on in Congress as they decide if our taxes will go way up in 2011, or stay the same (and by the way, maintaining the same rate does not equal a "tax cut." That is the media p[laying semantics.). But no, this is not about the tax bill, and while many Americans may be saying that, "give us our money back," this was one of 50 Americans who did so.

And she said it to President Obama. But she wasn't talking about taxes per se.

Not too long ago, the incoming governors had the opportunity to meet with President Obama.

During the course of the meeting, Governor-Elect Nikki Haley had a little chat with Obama on the issue of the new health care law (which, after Monday's ruling that parts of it were un-Constitutional may make this a moot argument). In this article, Obama Opens Door For S.C. Opt-Out, Haley Says, Haley lays out her argument to President Obama:
Haley said she told Obama that South Carolina could not afford the health care mandate, and that it would cripple small businesses.

"I respectfully asked him to consider repealing the bill," she said, to which he clearly stated he would not. "I pushed him further and said if that's the case, because of states' rights, would you at least consider South Carolina opting out of the program?"

Obama told her he would consider letting South Carolina opt out, she said, if the state could find its own solution that included a state exchange, preventing companies from bumping people for pre-existing conditions and allowing insurance pooling. [snip]

That is an important concession, is it not? And again, it may end up being meaningless, should the current health care law be struck down.

But then there was this:
[snip]Haley said she also asked the president if he would honor the federal government's commitment on developing a nuclear waste repository. When he said he would not revisit opening Nevada's Yucca Mountain, "I said, 'Then give us our money back.' "

The site 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas was proposed to house more than 4,000 metric tons of high-level nuclear waste from South Carolina's Savannah River Site. The state and Washington have sued over Obama's attempt to kill plans for the storage site after decades of study.

"SRS has done a good job, but that was a temporary solution. It was never meant to be a permanent solution," Haley said she told him. "The federal government has reneged on its promise, and the people of South Carolina want their money back." [snip]

Oh, SNAP!!! My immediate response when I read this? "Dang!" And that was meant in the most positive way possible. I was impressed by her commitment to the state, but also her gumption in making such a statement to the President of the United States (even if it is Obama) upon her first meeting. Holy smokes.

Oh, and Obama's response? Very Obama-like:
[snip]She said Obama pledged that he would have Energy secretary Steven Chu call her promptly. (The state has shelled out over $1 billion for the Yucca study.)

"I will wait for that phone call, and if I don't get it, I will be calling, but I feel he was being genuine," she said.

Haley described the tone as respectful and said she appreciated that Obama and Vice President Joe Biden allowed for open dialogue with the governors-elect, with no topic off-limits.

"It was a level of communication where we felt like we were being heard," she said. [snip]

I am glad she felt that the incoming governors were being heard. But I also love that she is going to hold Obama's feet to the fire in waiting for that phone call. For a state that continues to have double-digit unemployment, over a billion bucks would come in mighty handy about now.

Haley raises a good point. If the government is not going to make use of a program it has spent billions on, then hell to the yes, it should be returning our money.

As you may recall, Governor-Elect Nikki Haley was endorsed by Governor Sarah Palin. Haley was asked if she would endorse a candidate for president, to which she responded:
[snip] Haley said she will endorse a Republican candidate at some point before the first-in-the-South primary for the 2012 White House race.

"Absolutely!" she said. "But only after every one of them has had the opportunity to go out and meet with the constituents of South Carolina and hear their concerns. ... What I want to do is let the people of South Carolina see them without any sort of emphasis on who I think is right." [snip] (Click HERE to read the rest.)

Well, that will sure be interesting. I wonder if Sarah Palin runs, if Governor-Elect Haley will return the favor?

Governor-Elect Haley continues to impress with her cabinet choices, and on Monday, hosted a meeting of state leaders, including both US Senators, and US Rep. Jim Clyburn. Not only is Haley capable of speaking out for her state, she is also capable of diplomacy:
[snip]"There were no egos in that room," Haley said at a post-meeting news conference with the delegation. "It was a group of people that understood South Carolina needed to come first and it was very much one of great spirit -- great energy -- in how we are going to get things done." [snip] (Click HERE to read the rest.)

This kind of interaction does give me hope for this state, I have to say. And while Haley's query to President Obama regarding the funds spent on Yucca Mountain clearly was state-specific, it very well may set a precedent. If she is able to get money returned to the state of South Carolina, surely other states can follow.

I must say, I am impressed with our Governor-Elect. Her strength and dedication will certainly pay off for this state, but hopefully, will be an asset for all governors in the country as they work together.

Oh, and President Obama? I'm with Nikki Haley - give us our money back, please.

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