The following video is a full interview moderated by the Libertarian Reason TV with Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC). It was recorded on January 30th, the night before the Florida Primary. The Senator says he will retire in 2016 and term limits would solve many of this country’s problems. He believes the Republican Party should embrace Libertarians, that their fiscal message should not be alien to Republicans. Here’s one to make you stand up and shout Hallelujah: “debating with Moderates makes no sense.” I have a partial, loose transcript of DeMint’s remarks below along with the video. Note the conversation about the Conservative Senate Fund where money is being raised to elect Conservative Senators. This is a likely, good and productive place to donate. If we do not replace Obama, we MUST have the Senate. We MUST have the Senate no matter who is in the White House. Consider the Conservative Senate Fund for a donation.
The new debate in the Republican Party needs to be between Conservatives and Libertarians…
If Republicans do not embrace a lot of the Libertarian ideas that Ron Paul is talking about, like monetary policy, individual liberty, constitutional limited government, these things should not be alien to any Republican. The new debate in the Republican Party needs to be between Conservatives and Libertarians. ~ Jim DeMint
And one more:
…it no longer makes sense for Republicans to have the debate between Moderates and Conservatives, cause a Moderate wants to spend more money – just not quite as much as Democrats. When you’re this much in debt, I can’t tolerate that debate. It’s not that I’m not tolerant. It’s that it makes no sense…If we are going to have a Republican Party that is the majority Party, it is going to have to be very inclusive of Libertarians…. ~ Jim DeMint
Begin the kinda-sorta transcript:
We must understand that we are in trouble. Campaigning on limited government is a tough road when people want government assistance. Look at Greece. The country is going down in flames, and still people are rioting in the streets.
We didn’t deal with slavery when we formed the country. Civil War resulted. Wars tend to cause the centralization of power. National pension plans began then, benefits for veterans, but the real problem started with Woodrow Wilson, then FDR when he creates Social Security, supposed to be a safety net…from there on…the Republican, Democrats – you saw all these Departments started. The Department of Education, Transportation, Energy…Homeland Security. Forgetting political labels, the issue in Washington DC is the centralization of power vs decentralization of power. Its the difference of individual decision making vs collectivism.
All of the policies we are dealing with now coming from the President and the Democrat Party – it is always central control, whether it’s health care, education, the Dodd-Frank Bill…We Republicans have been guilty of that. We have fallen for that with No Child Left Behind, MediCare Part D. Every time we have a compromise it’s more government, more spending, more debt. At some point we have to say not only do we have to stop spending more than we bring in. We need to understand what made this country exceptional. Businesses figured this out about 20 years ago when Japan was handing us our lunch with their total quality movement…with individuals understanding what it took to cut costs and improve quality. That’s what works, and that’s what. We’ve forgotten that.
The only thing that is propping us right now is the Euro doing so badly.
[DeMint is asked what he would cut right now if it is “now or never” – where do we decentralized, what decisions do we put on the individual level, what Departments do we cut, what big budget items do we cut?]
First we have to decide that we need to balance the budget. The reason our debates don’t go anywhere is because the President said that balancing the budget is extreme. So to debate with him about where to cut is useless, because he doesn’t really believe we need to. He would like to tax the rich some more, even though the wealthy in our country pay a greater proportion of the national taxes of any country in the world…the issue is, do we agree that we need to stop spending more than we bring in.
[Interviewer says but some Republicans do not support a balanced budget]
All 47 Republican Senators signed not only a balanced budget amendment but one that limited spending to 18% of our economy, as well as required a super majority to raise taxes.
[Interviewer: 18% is the historical average…]
That’s where we know we the private sector continues to be vibrant, but there are freedom solutions.
First a flat, simple tax rate would do a lot to create millions of jobs. We’ve run the numbers on it with Heritage Foundation…it’s not spending. It would grow revenue and that’s got to be part of it.
We can cut spending. Education should be devolved to the states. We haven’t improved education, we’ve hurt it.
The Commerce Department does very little to support commerce.
A lot of the EPA functions can be devolved to the states. They are already partially done now, and there is a duplication of decision making.
Transportation – we take 18 cents out of every gallon of gas sold. We bring it up here. States have to fight to get it back. We could bring 3 cents up here to deal with federal roads. Let state’s decide, and we would have better infrastructure, spend less money…
[Interviewer: what about entitlements and defense spending? That’s where the real money is]
Entitlements – we don’t need to cut the benefits of those already on Social Security and Medicare. They’ve paid for it their whole lives, we made them promises, but if we give younger workers options and choices, first a lot of people who have alternative savings for their would probably take a buy-out at retirement of Social Security. I would take half of what I’m supposed to get actuarially. If you were offered at retirement, okay you can have $125,000 lump sum now, or you can over the next 20-25 years you can maybe get $250,000 – most people would say it ain’t gonna be there, I’ll take the lump sum and run. We can save a lot of money and we can offer younger workers just 401K-style social security plans. It’s interesting that they call that risky. It would save us money at the federal level and give younger workers real equity that they are not dependent when they retire.
Health Care – has to be individually owned. We have to have our own insurance to go from job to job. Paul Ryan has said keep your private insurance and let Medicare just pay part of it for you. Most of us would pay more than we have to pay for Medicare in order to keep real insurance, because by the time I get to retirement, it’s going to be hard to find a doctor who wants to see a Medicare patient…
[Interviewer: How much of the defense budget can be cut without hurting American preparedness or the ability to protect American lives?]
I’m not sure what that number is but I do know there is waste in Pentagon spending…waste all across the board…. We have to have a vision for what we want our military to do…I want whoever our nominee is in the Republican Party to listen to some of the things Ron Paul is saying…[hasn’t endorsed Ron Paul, nor Gingrich nor Romney] Romney is talking about cut, cap and balance. All of them believe we have to balance the budget. Paul has talked about a $1TRILLION cut. Obvious things: we need to rethink the money we spend on defense. Paul makes a good distinction. There is a difference between spending on military and spending on defense. The primary function of our government is to defend our country. We must insure that we have the technology, the intelligence, the equipment to defend America from a lot of new threats. If that is not doable with bases all over the world, we need to rethink how spread out we actually are and we have to demand that our allies pay a greater portion of the defense. In fact, we’re still in Germany, when we were there after WWII. We are still in South Korea. We are in a lot of places, and we may need to be in some of those places for deployment and protection, but it is fair to say, let’s rethink that…some of our spending is politically driven because a particular defense system or ship is built in a certain congressional district or state. Money is allocated not necessarily because our generals want it, but because someone in Congress wants it.
[Interviewer references DeMint’s book, Now or Never and asks if he hears that urgency from Romney or Gingrich – hearing a focus on the pressing issue of “now or never?”]
I don’t hear the urgency that I would like to hear, at the same time I understand from the candidates perspective that you cannot talk about doom and gloom. People need to feel some optimism. Sound the alarm, create some urgency, but show there are solutions.
The point is, we can determine our destiny for only so long a time, and then other country and events will determine our destiny for us.
There are things about all of these candidates I like…I want to be able to say this is not necessarily my guy, and I want to hold them accountable, but the big reason I’m not involved in the presidential race is, I want to elect conservative Senators through the Conservative Senators Fund and one of the things I’ve found, is the people who send us money $30, 440, $50 to help us elect people like Rand Paul, they are very divided on who they think the president should be. Everytime I say anything nice about any one of them, 80% of the people trying to help me are mad at me.
[Interviewer: is the Tea Party still revelant and where has it been?]
No one wants to go to a rally or protest given what the Occupy Movement is doing. It’s put a stain on citizen activism. They are still there. No one can speak for them. They are not any one group. I don’t like it when folks say “I am Senator Tea Party.” I didn’t start the Tea Party, but they came along and they were espousing the same things I have. This is a very divergent group of Americans – Libertarians, Conservatives, Independents, people never involved with politics…some recovering Liberals, but spending and the debt and the growing intrusive government is uniting people. They don’t all agree on the social issues. They don’t all agree on military, but they know our country is in trouble and that’s why they are so potent. They are the uniting aspect of what the Republican Party needs to embrace right now. All over the country they are organizing. They have gotten more sophisticated, but there are thousands of different groups.
Interesting. Everything that went on in Congress last year was blamed on the Tea Party. There is not one thing we did last year that the Tea Party would have supported. Bad legislation. Bad deals.
[I’m skipping a part on DeMint’s prior comment that you cannot be a conservative and not be a social conservative – it starts at about 16:15-in]
[Interviewer: Medicare Part D is what’s killing the budget. Right? Not unwed mothers, the defense budget…]
No. It’s the dependency on government. If we only took welfare spending back to 2008 levels, we could save over $2TRILLION. The number of people on food stamps now is extraordinary. One in seven Americans are on food stamps. It’s hard to maintain a vibrant culture when so many people are taking from government, and so few are paying into it.
[Interviewer: I have two kids and I see a great future for them. A more tolerant America, more innovative, more disbursed. There are stats that look bad if you are focused on marriage and parenthood and all that…]
I’m not trying to make it a moral issue, but it is very much a fiscal issue. A High School dropout, many of them coming from a broken family, will cost America about $250,000 over the lifetime…Federal policies should be encouraging productivity and staying in school…if adapted at the local levels, education can be made to meet the needs of the people…
[Interviewer – You’re a big school choice guy. How do you create a welfare program that promotes…a social safety net?]
I prefer it be done at the state and local level…more volunteer organizations. The churches want to do it but they have been misplaced. Trying to do that at the federal level has failed. It’s hurt our culture…poverty is worse than it was when it started. More people are in poverty.
[Interviewer: I’m sorry to bust your chops on this but those technically in poverty as it is defined by the government, it is clear now that the people in poverty now – you are better off materially than you were in a middle class family in 1970. They have a car, air conditioning, access to education, access to medicine, so isn’t it difficult to say we have more poverty now?]
We do define it differently. The school lunch program – in some states we have more than half the children getting free lunches, but these are sustainable. If we could afford them, that’s one thing, but we can’t. If people were moving out of poverty, then we can say it’s working. The point is, it’s not working.
[Interviewer: Why should a Libertarian vote Republican, especially considering the last time the Republican Party had the White House and Congress, they didn’t restrain government or spending at all.]
The new debate in the Republican Party needs to be between Conservatives and Libertarians. We have a common foundation of individual liberty and constitutionally limited government. We can rationally debate the things we disagree on. I don’t think the government should impose my morals on someone else. At the same time, I don’t want the government purging morals and values from society. We can find a balance there and it gets back to decentralization. If you want the government to say I don’t have the right to say something is wrong, then someone loses the right to say something’s right. The tolerance is going to come from decentralization and letting people make their own decisions. But we have to be able to put up with societal stigma of things we don’t like, but if you want the government to say this group cannot exclude someone else…
[Interviewer: …like allowing Catholic hospitals to opt out of certain must-carry provisions, either birth control or abortion, or whatever?]
That’s not imposing a moral belief, it’s allowing people to practice a moral belief. I think there’s a lot of common ground with Libertarians. I can sit down with a Ron Paul or a Judge Napolitano and find a lot of common ground. We may not come to the same conclusion, but on the social issues, I generally agree. I don’t want the government to push my religion and morals.
[Do you find any hope across the aisle…]
In private, those like Joe [Mansion] and some others will talk and agree with us. The problem is their political constituency all pushes for centralization of power. So for him to vote for something that pushes education back to the states, the unions don’t like that cause they can control the things from the federal level. It becomes more difficult in a right-to-work state.
It’s difficult to get elected as a Democrat to the US Senate if you are not sold out to the labor bosses and environmentalists. Republicans, despite what they say, we don’t have a constituency like that. The Pro-Life groups will support Democrats if they are Pro-Life, the NRA will support Democrats if they are pro-gun. Wall Street gives three or four times more to Democrats, and so do Warren Buffet and other billionaires. Our constituency is individuals. Most want to be left alone to be successful, small businesses…Even corporate American now is mostly for concentration of power, which leads to crony capitalism. Sometimes they can increase their market share by government action easier than developing a better product.
That’s why we’re at a tipping point. Organized politics is mostly toward bigger government.
[Interviewer: Republican registration is down, but Ron Paul is pulling in a lot of Independents…if you look at that…are you worried that that block is not going to be a Republican block?]
I’m real worried about it. If Republicans do not embrace a lot of the Libertarian ideas that Ron Paul is talking about, like monetary policy, individual liberty, constitutional limited government, these things should not be alien to any Republican. But it no longer makes sense for Republicans to have the debate between Moderates and Conservatives, cause a Moderate wants to spend more money – just not quite as much as Democrats. When you’re this much in debt, I can’t tolerate that debate. It’s not that I’m not tolerant. It’s that it makes no sense…If we are going to have a Republican Party that is the majority Party, it is going to have to be very inclusive of Libertarians….
We need to embrace the rest of America. That’s what is so good about the Tea Party. These were not Republicans. They didn’t like any political party, but they were Libertarians and Conservatives and Independents and people of all political stripes – people without any political persuasion…that’s the future of the Republican Party. If we miss the opportunity and form a third party, then the Democrats will be the majority Party.
[What are the odds the federal government will ever publish a budget again, and if they do will it be less in nominal dollars than this last year’s spending?
I think you’ll see the House pass a budget like that, which begins to take spending down. I don’t think it will be irrational in that it cuts right away, but it will start that path downward.
I doubt that we get that budget through the Senate, but we can force a vote. We did that last year. President Obama’s budget got a fair vote in the Senate. NOT ONE REPUBLICAN OR DEMOCRAT voted for it…we can’t get a handle on our debt if we don’t have a budget. The fact that you don’t want to show a budget, and Harry Reid is saying he doesn’t, means you don’t want to show your priorities, where you are getting your revenue and what you are spending it on. Thanks to Smitty at The Other McCain
End partial, loose video transcript
Jim DeMint – Listen to Ron Paul (video)