Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina
GLENN: Senator DeMint from Washington, D.C. Last week I talked to you, Senator, you were against the bailout. I was for a bailout but I am certainly not for this one. Have we switched places?
SENATOR DeMINT: Well, no, I am very much against it. It's curious if you look at really what happened. You know, Paulson introduced a plan and then congress added a whole lot of boogiemen to it, or bad things, and now they've come back and taken out a lot of the boogiemen in saying we've accomplished something and that it's better. The fact is it's pretty much the Paulson plan, yet it's a little bit worse because it not only allows Paulson to go out and buy mortgage assets but any assets he deems necessary.
GLENN: How about this one. Section 103, the Treasury can buy from counties and cities that may have suffered significant loss or markets in turmoil. Protecting the retirement security of Americans by purchasing troubled assets held by or on behalf of an eligible retirement plan. This means the secretary of the treasury suddenly can now buy retirement plans.
SENATOR DeMINT: Exactly. A lot of these pension funds and retirement plans for, you know, state employees as well as for individuals contained these securitized mortgages which have lost value. I mean, this is, you know, a rabbit hole we'll be going down for decades trying to chase down any asset that's lost value. This is just an incredible power grab by the federal government. You know, we've created the problem by our own bad policy and now we've created a panic by our irresponsible rhetoric and our promises to fix it, and
GLENN: Look. Hang on just a second, Senator. The irresponsible rhetoric, I have not heard irresponsible rhetoric because I haven't heard I have yet to hear someone step up and say, "America, don't talk to me about recession. America, we are headed toward 1929 economic crash, quite possibly some of the worst stuff that we've ever seen, and this bailout, it will make it right and we won't have that." I have not heard anyone say that. I haven't even they are still talking, some people are saying, "Well, it might be a very deep recession." What?
SENATOR DeMINT: It is being said here and whether or not it's being reported in the news or not but they are trying to say this would be even worse than the Great Depression if we don't do this. And then there are people who are saying if we do this, it could make it even worse.
SENATOR DeMINT: That the market needs to correct and if we try to inject ourselves in some kind of central planning model, we're likely to make it much, much worse. And the problem running alongside this, Glenn, is we've got such a huge national debt that companies like Goldman Sachs and others have been involved with actually helping to buy our debt and sell it to other countries and this is just kind of an insidious model here. If we are not able to borrow money here as a country, we default on our loans very quickly because we're in debt and we're creating more debt. And so that's our big problem. If we could get on a pathway to balance the budget here as a country and begin over 50 years to start paying down our debt, it would create a whole lot of faith in our dollar. But right now the value of the dollar's going to continue to drop because I think countries are seeing we're not able to pay our debt.
GLENN: Senator, have you ever seen more public involvement on the phone and the switch boards before?
SENATOR DeMINT: No. I didn't think we could ever top the illegal immigration/amnesty debate but last year we got over 1,000 calls, it was 9 1 against the bailout. I think the ones were the bankers. But a lot of bankers don't want to do this. They know it will get the Feds in their business. BB&T has said don't do this. They have had kind of a responsible loan policy and they know that this is bringing the federal government into a business that in effect they'll be having to compete with the federal government.
GLENN: So how are we even and I understand that we're a republic and not a democracy and this is exactly what we hire you guys for.
SENATOR DeMINT: Right.
GLENN: To represent us, and I know you can go against public opinion, but I have to tell you, Senator, have you heard anyone on Capitol Hill say "If I vote for this at 9 1 against the American people and these things that we're predicting happen after we've done this program, I'm a dead man. I mean, I can't go back to the people and say, hey, I need one more handout."
SENATOR DeMINT: Yes.
GLENN: And that's what's going to happen.
SENATOR DeMINT: It is because they are not even telling us this is going to fix the problem.
GLENN: Thank you, thank you.
SENATOR DeMINT: And the problem I have is we're not telling Americans the truth about why this happened and that it was really bad policy over many years and it was the intrusion of the government into the private markets that caused the failure. The private markets have not failed us. And it's not like we've learned from our mistakes and we're saying we're going to fix the things that caused the problem and we're going to implement some real good free market principles of lower taxes and get rid of Sarbanes Oxley and fix some accounting things that are hurt, but we're not doing any of that, Glenn. All we're doing is this trillion dollar Band Aid and
GLENN: You are going to have I mean, Newt Gingrich said to me today if he were in the House, he would vote for it only because he couldn't sleep at night knowing he could do everything he could. And I said, but you are dismantling the free market system with this bill. You can't dismantle the free market system. That's what he even said, before the election three or four times more the government will have to come and bail people out. The people will go crazy if that happens.
SENATOR DeMINT: Yeah, we're going to have some pain regardless because of years of just bad policy. I mean, you can just the thing that's the plainest is like our energy policy. I mean, we've starved ourselves of energy. We're sending $700 billion of our dollars overseas every year. We're paying through the nose. It's just sucking the life out of our economy. But we still won't fix it, for heaven sake.
GLENN: No, Senator, no, Senator, please pass this on to all of your friends because I you know what? I said this about the economy a year and a half ago I was talking about, and I said the Great Depression could be around the corner; look out, this is unstable. Nobody would listen. A year and a half ago I started saying something else: Politicians, please, I'm begging of you, you are read the Declaration of Independence. This is the way the American people feel. And if these guys go and are not clear with the American people and they do this bailout against our wishes, when you have to come a second and a third or a fourth time, the people will not stand for it. We are at a breaking point. A breaking point, Senator. And not me. I am so afraid of what some people in this country are willing to do because they feel they have been betrayed.
SENATOR DeMINT: Well, I really do think this government has betrayed the people and, you know, we swear an oath to the Constitution and there is no respect for the constitutional boundaries of the things we spend money on, of local projects. I mean, these things are not in the Constitution, and the Constitution certainly does not give the government the ability to go in and buy parts of businesses. And so it's like we're setting aside our Constitution and our free market principles in order to get through this crisis, and everyone's saying we've got to do something. We're not willing to do the right things. So we've got to do this thing because it's something. And, you know and then they are saying, well, if you don't do this wrong thing, it's going to just be terrible. So it's just a dysfunctional congress that has caused the problem, now says they are going to solve it. You know, and people like I mean, I don't know what to do except I'm going to say you guys don't know what you're doing, you haven't been right this year and I'm going to go with the free market system and vote against this thing and I hope the American people will show their anger at election day.
GLENN: If I may, you could quote, I believe he was a senator. If not, he was in the House. You should quote Daniel Boone: You can all go to hell. I'm going to Texas. I mean, it is, it is a place here in our capitol building and in our White House and all throughout Washington where they are disconnected from the people, and real people are going to be hurt with this or without this, and the people who have poisoned the system are now telling us they can heal us.
SENATOR DeMINT: Right. And they are blaming our free enterprise system for this.
SENATOR DeMINT: And that's the biggest casualty of all of this is that people are going to come away thinking our markets have failed, that the free enterprise system doesn't work, capitalism is not the right model. And they did the same thing after the Great Depression. And we know, Milton Friedman knew that that was caused by bad the Federal Reserve bad monetary policy, meaning he proved it very well in my mind.
SENATOR DeMINT: But Roosevelt used that as a way to intrude the government into all areas of our life. And the same thing's happening again right now.
GLENN: Exactly right. And that's what caused, that's what caused the Great Depression to last for ten years was nobody could trust that the government wasn't going to just change the rules and get involved. It's a decade mess we're creating. Senator, is this going to pass?
SENATOR DeMINT: Yes, I think it's going to pass easily. And they are trying to
SENATOR DeMINT: They are trying to choreograph it to cover people so that they can get an equal number of Republicans and Democrats so that no one can be blamed.
GLENN: How dare whoever is who is responsible for this?
SENATOR DeMINT: Well, it's primarily coming from the administration, but they have so frightened the leadership and congress and frankly I think the Democrats are chomping at the bit over this. They have wanted to get their tentacles into Wall Street and the financial markets. They feel like capitalism is out of control. So what has happened is Bush feels like we have to do something. The Democrats are seeing this as a way to leverage a lot of their regulations and control and ownership frankly of the American economy and so they're going to help Bush if he helps them, and it's the same thing that happened on prescription drugs for Medicare, same thing that happened on No Child Left Behind. Bush is working with the Democrats.
GLENN: This is an abomination.
SENATOR DeMINT: It is.
GLENN: This is a betrayal of the this is why in 2004, if you were a listener of this program, I said get the hell away from these Republicans. You vote for the individual, not for the party. These Republicans, please, call your Republicans and say do not vote for the please do not vote for this. Don't disenfranchise me even more.
SENATOR DeMINT: Those calls, Glenn, are so helpful. That's why I've been on as many radio and TV shows as I can be on is just to get people to call and show their anger. It's the way we brought down the big amnesty bill. There were only five senators against that when we started. But it was you and others, people saying, hey, this is not the right way to do this. I mean, we need to have a rule of law system and control our borders, and the people were heard. And they have been heard on this energy issue. We were able to usher in energy freedom day and let the bands expire because we stirred up anger.
GLENN: But you know and I know that nobody's going to invest until they again nobody is going to invest in those oil wells and start to move forward on that until they know the next congress and the next President isn't going to change the rules on them.
SENATOR DeMINT: You are exactly right. Democrats are already talking about reinstating the moratorium.
GLENN: Sure they are.
SENATOR DeMINT: So this has got to be a movement of the people because this is a huge drag on our economy that the whole energy situation's hurting every American. The bad policies up here are incredible. I mean, I'm just pulling my hair out that in the middle of this crisis I mean, we passed more pork spending last week than in history.
GLENN: Excuse me?
SENATOR DeMINT: Yes. I mean, this was, the dollars, over $20 billion between the spending bills and the military authorization, more and we were supposed to cut them in half and Bush wasn't going to sign any bill, and we just have forgotten about that and so we're saying the world is in a financial panic, yet we're spending like there's no tomorrow here. It's just shameless. And they don't think the American people can figure this out.
GLENN: You know what, the American people are busy. We're busy working hard. Most Americans are not following it but I'm telling you, Senator, and this is what you need to tell your friends up on Capitol Hill well, not your friends. I have a feeling that your friends
SENATOR DeMINT: Former friends.
GLENN: Yeah, you need to tell the people up on Capitol Hill, the American people may not know exactly what's going on, but Republican, Democrat, independent in their gut, they know something's very, very wrong and they're not they know that the leadership on both sides are not telling them the truth at best and lying to them at worst. And when that gut catches up to their pocketbook, there's real hell to pay, real hell to pay.
SENATOR DeMINT: I think you are right. Americans are starting to see through the double speak here that, you know, they've told us for years, "Well, we don't have to drill for oil but we're going to have cheap energy." You know, they told us things that can't be.
SENATOR DeMINT: And my hope is in the anger and involvement of the American people at this point, that's the only I mean, but we shouldn't kid ourselves. If we don't pass this bill, we're going to have pain.
SENATOR DeMINT: And economic difficulty. If we do pass this bill, we're going to have pain and economic difficulty.
GLENN: Senator, will you be clear on the pain? Because I've talked to people who have been working side by side with Paulson, I have talked to people at the highest levels, all off record. Will someone please tell the American people the truth that whether we pass it, whether we don't pass it, there is a good possibility we are looking at 1929 style Depression.
SENATOR DeMINT: Yeah. I hope we're not looking at that, Glenn, and actually the frustrating thing is we do have good fundamentals in our economy, but the credit markets and the financial part has been so misplayed by our government and we've messed things up, we've taken the risk out of capitalism and insulated people from bad decisions and we've hurt ourselves. And we've got to fix that. But I just don't think Treasury can fix it, I don't think $700 billion's going to fix it and I think we need to basically send a signal out there is we've got to fix this ourselves, we've got to encourage local banks to loan money. We could fix some accounting rules that would make it easier for them without spending a dime of taxpayer money, but we won't do that. So I think the anger has got to precede any positive development.
GLENN: Senator, we hope to check in with you again, if you have time, we'd like to check in with you again and get a progress update.
SENATOR DeMINT: Sounds like I'm going to be here for a while.
GLENN: Appreciate it. Bye bye.