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Senator Jim DeMint reacts to President Obama’s prime time press conference on health care

Thursday, July 23, 2009

HH: Joining me to discuss the President’s performance and the health care initiative by the White House and Democrats in Congress is United States Senator from South Carolina Jim DeMint. Senator DeMint, always a pleasure, welcome.

JD: Well, thank you, Hugh. It’s great to be back on your show.

HH: It’s great to have your new book as well. We’re going to have to set aside some time to talk about that book another time. I’d like to get your reaction to the President’s performance tonight.

JD: Well, I have to admit that I had the transcripts coming to me on my way back to the house. I did not actually see the visuals, but I’ve had a couple of my staffers, health care staffers who watched it, who were giving me the same opinion that you were getting. And what we were looking for is some details, because he’s been denying the facts that the Congressional Budget Office and the independent auditors of this, he continues to give what I’ve heard called Alice In Wonderland analysis of this thing with no connection with the real facts.

HH: Let me play for you I think one of the most important moments tonight. It is simply not true what he says here, if I understand this law, and I do understand this law. Let’s play what the President said.

BHO: If you have health insurance, the reform we’re proposing will provide you with more security and more stability. It will keep government out of health care decisions, giving you the option to keep your insurance if you’re happy with it.

HH: Senator DeMint, is that true?

JD: No, it’s not. I mean, the Lewin Group, which is not a partisan group, did a comprehensive study of these proposals that are coming out of the administration and the Congress, and they concluded at least 80 million Americans will be forced from their current plans into a government plan the way these things are structured. And I think it’ll be worse than that, because I don’t think it’ll be long before the private health care market collapses as they continue to transfer cost from government plans over to the private plans.

HH: Jake Tapper of ABC asked the President, what sacrifices other than the very high income people being taxed by the House will the average American make? And the President said only that they’ll have to stop paying for tests that don’t help them. Was that a straightforward answer, Senator DeMint?

JD: No, it’s not. If you look at the language, it actually protects the plaintiffs attorneys, which means they’ll continue to be testing that’s not necessary to protect from lawsuits. There’s really nothing in the bill that reforms any aspect of health care. It’s just more of government trying to micromanage aspects of it. Even the salaries of physicians are being talked about in the House plan. The frustrating thing for me, Hugh, is I look back over Barack Obama’s time in the Senate, I introduced major health reform every year I was in there. He voted against everything that would have helped the small businesses buy insurance, or individuals buy it by themselves. He voted against everything. And now he’s saying the government needs to take it over. He is not a health reformer.

HH: Senator DeMint, another question challenged him on the lack of transparency, his pledge to have the hearings and the debates on C-Span. He responded that their first meeting was on C-Span at the White House, the refusal to release the list of health care executives, he said, well, you got to come in and take pictures of them, what don’t you know. Has the White House, have your Democratic colleagues been transparent? And will these proposed bills be posted on the internet as was promised to us to study before they’re voted on?

JD: Well, they have not kept that promise on any bill, particularly major ones like the stimulus that we had all these promises on, and it went through before anyone read it. No, it’s not going to be on the internet in time for people to see it, if we vote on it before the August break. However, they know if we get to the August break, that I’ll load it on the internet, and the bloggers and radio talk show hosts like yourself will find out what’s really in the bill. But right now, there’s several versions of it, but they all point to government control of health care, and not real reform of health insurance.

HH: Now Senator DeMint, the DNC’s running ads against you in your home state, the President’s taking aim at you because of your waterloo remark. Do you view that as a political strategy on their part to divert conversation from the substance of this radical proposal for American medicine?

JD: Well, and it’s part of their pattern of not being able to tell the truth. If you see the ad, they say Jim DeMint is not for any plan, when in fact I’ve introduced probably more health reform proposals than any Democrat in the Senate in the last four years. So yeah, they’re trying to distract attention from the real policy, and make it personal, make it political. It’s not about Obama. It’s about really bad policy that’s becoming more and more evident as we rifle through this over a thousand pages that the House produced.

HH: Last question, Senator DeMint, another reporter asked the President if he would commit to living by the benefits offered under the so-called government option, public plan, and would he commit Congress to living under those benefits. The President demurred, saying I’ve got a doctor following me. But he didn’t commit Congress. Frankly, I doubt there’s any way in the world you and your colleagues would ever agree to live under the government plan and be rationed. But you tell me. Do you think there’s a prayer of that?

JD: Well, I know that if they try to put this through, someone on the House is going to offer that amendment, and I will in the Senate. What is basically does is put Americans, all Americans on Medicaid, where we’re not paying doctors enough to see us, and they’ll be closing their practice, and we’ll be driving all around looking for a doctor that’ll take us. And then they’ll come back and try to mandate that doctors have to see us. And it’s just a way that ultimately is going to destroy any aspect of a free market health care system. And the shame is there’s some very simple things that we could do to make health care more affordable, health insurance more accessible. But the Democrats have voted against everything that we’ve tried to do to really make things work in health care.

HH: Senator Jim DeMint from South Carolina, thanks for joining us, we’ll continue to check in as this debate progresses.

End of interview.

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