Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina
Glenn: But let's go to Lee. Hang on. We have Senator DeMint with us. He's just called in. So, let me go right to the senator. Senator, how are you, sir?
Senator DeMint: Hey, Glenn, I hope to jump in front of Lee, but I hope you'll give us a few minutes.
Glenn: I appreciate it. I didn't know you were on the phone yet. Senator, you know what? Honestly I feel today like that guy in the -- in every Hitchcock film that finds himself in an impossible situation and he's, like, well, wait, wait. How did I get involved in this?
Senator DeMint: Yeah.
Glenn: Today after the Senate decided that they were not going to bail out the big three, George Bush said that it had to go through Congress, now the news breaking from Bloomburg is that Bush is reversing himself and he's going to use coincidentally the $15 billion that's left from the bailout, he's going to use that to bail out the big three auto makers to save them because Congress didn't act. Since when do we have this system where anybody can just do whatever the hell they want with our money?
Senator DeMint: Well, that would be, I think, a big mistake by the bush administration. He's had a lot of problems in his administration, I think, expanding the scope of government and the dependency of people and what happened in the Senate was that the united auto workers, the union bosses, essentially did to us what they've done to the auto companies for years and they would not negotiate in good faith to create a reasonable compensation package which the government should not be negotiating, anyway, but there were Republicans who were trying to work out something where we could keep these companies operating but the unions just threw the work he recalls and the interest of the workers out the window and said no way and --
Glenn: Senate, hang on just a second. I mean, first of all, you're exactly right on the -- I mean, it's pretty darn reasonable to ask the auto workers union to take a concession and have the auto workers work in Detroit where you think you can buy a house for 1 dollar 75, to ask them to take a pay cut to the level of the auto workers here in America building Hondas and, you know, other foreign cars. So, it's totally reasonable, but we're off the track already. Why should we be baling this company -- what are they telling you that makes you, of all people say, well, maybe we should bail out the big three?
Senator DeMint: Well, I had told them of regardless of how they changed it, I did not think it was the appropriate role of government because the role of government is to make laws. We have laws. We have bankruptcy protection, we have Chapter $11 designed for situations just like this, where a company can continue to operate, they can restructure their debt, they can rewrite their union contracts all under the protection of an objective bankruptcy judge and that's what the companies need to do. The government cannot manage an automobile company and that's what they're talking about with the car czar and the ridiculous things that have been going on lately and now, you know, the President is saying, well, this slush fund that Congress passed awhile back that we haven't used like we said we were already, now we're going to use it to pick winners and losers out in the marketplace. People are getting angry because a lot of people have been laid off and I hear everywhere, why aren't they baling me out, why aren't they helping me?
Glenn: I don't want them helping anyone. I want you people in Washington to get your freaking hands off my money. When is that message ever going to be carried by anybody?
Senator DeMint: Well, it's got to -- the idea of a Constitutional government and rule of law has kind of been throughout out of the window in Washington.
Glenn: So, how do we get it back, senator?
Senator DeMint: Well, the way we do it is the way we beat this bailout is we get people angry from your shows, shows all over the country, bloggers. I spent the whole week along with five other senators doing radio talk shows, talking to bloggers and having bloggers, you know, teleconferences and going on FOX and CNN and NBC. All of us did that and that's what happened is Americans got angry, they called, they e-mailed their senators, and lot of the senators backed down who were going the other way. That's how we can change Washington.
Glenn: But -- wait a minute. Senator, we're running out of time. You know, it was one thing to say three years ago, you know, let's get people -- let's get people angry about this and involved. You're getting to a point to where people are already angry and as they feel their government just take them and stab them in the back and not listen to them and we -- okay. You got us angry. We listened. We got on the phone. We called. Yada yada yada. We spoke. You guys saved it, but then it goes to, you know, the money czar, Hank Paulson, and King George W. Bush and he just screws us, anyway. At some point, Senator, you've got so many people who are angry that stupid, violent things can happen and that is -- I am so -- I have been -- I said to you at the beginning of this conversation, I feel like the guy in every Hitchcock movie. I have been saying to people in Washington for the last three to four years, please stop this, please, please, you don't know what you're doing. You're sewing the seeds of discontent. You are moving in a direction that is going to make the American people not trust you and angry with you. Now I've given up on Washington. Now I'm looking to the other group of people in America and I'm saying to them, No, please don't do this. Please, back away. Sit down. Have peace in your heart, love. Don't do anything stupid. Do you know what? I mean, here I am in the center of this thing and I think most Americans feel this, nothing good is coming our way with anger.
Senator DeMint: No, it's not. And I hear the anger every day in my office because we've gotten thousands of calls on this, thousands of calls on energy, thousands of calls on earmarks, illegal immigration, the amnesty bill and you're right. For the last three or four years, it's really been --
Glenn: One after another.
Senator DeMint: Legislative chaos and people are losing confidence and what we need to do now -- I don't want to give up hope. I think we're close to the point of no return with socialism, but we can still fight this. People need to let the bush administration know the same way they let senators know we don't expect him to come in and do anything because these companies can continue to operate under the protection of Chapter 11 and that's the only way to fool the rule of law here and they're not going to close down unless they just ignore the obvious. The people who held their debt were willing to take a two thirds loss yesterday when we were negotiating this. Everybody involved, the CEO's were going to take caps on salaries. Everybody but the unions were willing to negotiate and now I see more than ever what has happened to these car companies. These unions have pushed their back against the wall and the government shouldn't come out and bail out the unions because that's really what's happening here.
Glenn: But they're going to. They're going to. If they didn't do it now, they're going to do is as soon as the Democrats take control. The unions spent $1 billion. You want to talk about a special interest group? $1 billion. Senator, you said -- I think it was yesterday and you've since changed this or retracted this and said it was a misspeak, but you said that you thought that riots would happen if this went through. What are you changing that to?
Senator DeMint: Well, no. I was really just referencing what I had seen on television is people protesting already with signs, you bailed out Bank of America, why not me and people who have been laid off. So, I'm not -- I mean, I think people were suggesting I was encouraging riots and I wasn't, about I'm eye frayed the anger of the people, just as you said, is going to bubble over to very destructive behavior because a lot of people are going to be hurting over the next year or two and they're going to be wondering why some are getting money and some aren't and that's just the way socialism works. It sews discontent and anger and it turns into --
Glenn: Senator, most people listening to me right now, you're speaking to a group that has been very active. You're speaking to the group that pays attention to the news, that reads, that cares deeply. This audience, like so many others, are not getting their news from Jon Stewart. They'll get their laughs from Jon Stewart but not their news from Jon Stewart. They're not the people that are just, like, well, I don't know. Bailout? I guess. These people are involved and they have been involved and they have been involved for so long and they have been screwed over and over and over again. They have said, No, I want you to protect our border and stop calling me a racist for that. There are economic ramifications. You know, every step of the way, they've called, they've got ton involved, and then they've been stabbed in the back many times by their own party and the people that they voted for. Please speak directly to those people who are right now in their car saying, senator, you've got to be kidding me. You really want me to get on the phone one more time and call? They're running out of times that they're going to
Caller: . Speak to them.
Senator DeMint: Well, I'd like to, because I've been pummeled by my own party trying to change rules of seniority in the last month, in trying to three Ted Stephens out of our conference so that people would know we want a new start and my own party has been pretty rough on me, but I will say, I mean, I'm concerned and I'm fighting every day, but we did stop the amnesty bill. You know, we have done a lot to create a problem with the earmarks and people are backing down from those to a degree. Haven't won that battle yet, but we have, through the anger of the American people, gotten a moratorium on drilling taken away. They'll probably fry to put it back on, but we defeated the auto bailout and we've lost a lot of battles, too, but I think part of this process is helping a lot of Americans, like those that listen to your show, realize they can make a difference. It's hard and if you look at -- if you Google Jim DeMint, you'll see what kind of abuse that I'm taking.
Glenn: Oh, senator, you are one of the guys -- the good guys. You have been on the front line and I don't mean to take my frustration out on you, but I'm frustrated, senator, just as you are, because some of us, you have been one of them, have been ringing this bell for quite some time with the members of the Senate and Congress and in this current White House saying, what are you doing? You are sewing the seeds of our destruction and I'm not even talking about nationalized, socialized country. What I'm talking about is they are sewing the seeds of ripping us apart internally and nobody would listen and they're still not listening and I just -- I just know that the people who are paying attention are holding their head and they're saying, What else do I do? What else do I do?
Senator DeMint: Well, Glenn, I would just again, these folks that listen to you encourage me because they've called and they've said, keep fighting and I know they're listening to your show. The thing I've come to realize is I'm butting my head against the wall trying to change the Senate. The way I can change this country and stop what the Congress is doing is to get more and more people engaged and informed, angry, constructively angry, and to grow those numbers and I think we're beginning to do that. People are walking up. You know, calls that used to be in the hundreds are now in the thousands. People are no longer saying you've got to push issue this or that. They're grabbing my arm and saying, how can I help? That's what they say, how can I help in so, Americans wants to get involved. We've just got to give them a target and help them -- and I tell you, we've got to get busy this year because these same unions that have brought down the American auto industry, they want to get rid of the secret ballot, they want to spread unionism across the country and the Democrats are requesting to help them and hopefully these kind of things will bring today a rebirth of a Republican party because, as you've mentioned, I mean, we can't even trust the Republican party as a label because we've had so many among us who didn't agree with our basic philosophy. So, we've got a lot of work to do, but I can't afford to have -- to get negative. I do every now and then, but then I come home and people say, Keep fighting. Thank you.
Glenn: No. Senator, God bless you. I don't know. I couldn't do your job. I don't know who could. Let me ask you this: How many people in the Senate that you work with -- are you there?
Senator DeMint: Excuse me. Somebody just got on the line.
Glenn: It might be one of my kids. I'm using the phone. How many people that you work with on a day-to-day basis in the Senate do you think actually understand how dire the situation is with discontent and the economy, that know that they are dealing now with something that this country has never, ever experienced before?
Caller: We might have 10 in the Senate.
Senator DeMint: But salt and light can go a long way and we've had less than that who have, you know, stopped the amnesty bill and done other things like -- I mean, there were six of us that met at the beginning of this week and decided to do everything we could to take our case to the American people and at that point everyone was saying there was no way we could stop this thing, but a few people can make a difference if they have advocates on the outside and that really comes back to you, your listeners, and folks like you around the country.
Glenn: Senator, I've got to go, but we do support you, sir, and we will be watching you carefully and don't you dare give up, because there are very few lights in Washington coming out and we appreciate you being there.
Senator DeMint: Thank you. We couldn't do it without you.
Glenn: You bet. Bye-bye. Senator Jim DeMint.