Mark Sanford continues to add to his conservative credentials.  After penning a refusal to request bailout funds, Sanford has written the White House to add his voice to those opposed to a bailout of Detroit’s automakers. The chair of the Republican Governors Association calls this a tipping point in American economics:

“I believe this would be a very great mistake,” Sanford said in a letter written to the President on Monday. “It would open the floodgates of federal monies for every distressed industry across this country–and there will be many in this economic slowdown.”

“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 good work, but by the size of one’s voice and connection to Washington,” Sanford wrote. “The real economic stimulus of this country lies in the daily work and effort of millions you have seen across this land.  These bailouts not only represent an enormous cost they are left to carry, but a shattering of the rights and responsibilities that have historically been linked to achieving the American Dream.”

Sanford hits the nail on the head.  The American government does not have a mandate to select winners and losers in the market, apart from buying products for its own use from the private sector.  People on the Left talk about crony capitalism, but this is nothing less than crony socialism — the government subsidy of selected private enterprise, based solely on their political impact.

Even as “investments”, as bailout advocates describe the package, the loans make no sense at all.  None of the automakers have a problem selling cars; they have a problem showing a profit.  Why would any lender, private or public, invest in that failing model, let alone lend money on its basis?  They can’t pay back loans when they lose money on their car sales, and nothing that management and labor have yet produced shows any serious attempt to solve that problem.  This is exactly what Chapter 11 bankruptcy exists to resolve.

The first time I heard Sanford speak, I wondered why he hadn’t thrown his hat into the ring in the 2008 presidential sweepstakes.  His leadership on limited government and refusal to throw away money we don’t have should put Sanford in the first rank of candidates for national leadership in 2012, if we’re bright enough to recognize it.