Senator Jim DeMint spoke about healthcare reform today to The American Spectator and Americans for Tax Reform at the Newsmaker breakfast series. Overshadowing all topics was the Democrats’ healthcare reform bill. DeMint emphasized the need to keep free market incentives in reform. While the senator was optimistic that the Cap-and-Trade bill would die in the Senate, he underscored the threat of the healthcare bill, saying that “if we lose healthcare, we’ve lost free market economics in America.”
DeMint attacked supporters of the president’s healthcare reform proposal saying that “proponents do not understand free market economics.” He conceded that sometimes conservative messages were hard to sell due to their longer-term benefits as opposed to short-sighted spending sprees proposed by Democrats. “They are giving away twinkies, and we are trying to sell health food,” DeMint illustrated. The senator expressed some optimism that the bill would fail, although he did not have complete confidence in the Blue Dog Democrats due to their ties with organized labor. He cited voter activism as a way of countering organized labor’s lobbying power.
The senator said that he wanted universal access to health insurance, but that he did not want the government controlling and administering the care. For that reason, he introduced the “Health Care Freedom Plan” in the Senate in June. His plan would give a $5000 tax credit for families who would then choose their own plans. While such a plan could minimize government involvement, the downside could be yet another example where the government descends deeper into the habit of providing entitlements that it can never rescind.
While healthcare was the main topic of discussion, foreign policy issues arose during the question and answer session. When asked about the crisis in Honduras, DeMint expressed disgust towards the State Department’s handling of the situation, and said that by Honduran law, President Zelaya had legally been stripped from office due to his conduct.
Towards the end of the lunch, DeMint also briefly discussed the future of the Republican Party. DeMint underscored that leaders would emerge, but that it was more important that the party establish a firm set of principles first. With such a set of principles and a clear message, he believed that it would help to get Americans to vote with their brains again as opposed to their hearts as they had in 2008.