DeMint to Obama: We'd Lift Debt Ceiling If . . .

Friday, 01 Jul 2011 03:16 PM

By Martin Gould and Ashley Martella

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President Barack Obama was “incredibly irresponsible” to criticize Congress for inaction when he is doing virtually nothing to help solve the debt crisis, conservative darling Sen. Jim DeMint tells Newsmax.TV in an exclusive interview.

But GOP members would go along with Obama and vote to raise the debt limit if they knew they never would be asked again, DeMint said.

“Republicans would help the president if it is the last time we ever have to raise this debt ceiling,” the junior senator from South Carolina said.

“If we get a balanced budget amendment and serious cuts, we’ll work with the president, but not if his idea is just raising gas prices and raising taxes and just nominally cutting spending. We’ve got to send a lot of functions back to the states that we can’t afford to do well in Washington and we need to be serious.”

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DeMint talked to Newsmax in the aftermath of the news conference Wednesday in which Obama repeatedly bashed congressional leaders for not taking a lead to get the country out of the debt ceiling crisis.

“It’s pretty amazing that the president is criticizing Congress when he has not proposed any cuts in spending,” DeMint said. “It’s really hard to swallow.
“The president has been AWOL on this whole debate. Anything he has done in his first few years in office has increased spending. He has resisted any cuts of any kind.”

The senator said Obama’s insistence on asking for corporations and the wealthiest Americans to pay higher taxes made no sense.

“You can change tax rates all you want. The revenue’s going to stay at about 18 percent of the economy. The way to grow revenues is to improve our economy and the things that this president has done have made it more and more difficult for businesses to add employees and build.

“I am for increasing revenues, but just raising the price of gas, which is effectively what he is proposing, and making it more expensive to manufacture in our country by taking away some of the business production, isn’t going to help our economy and it isn’t going to raise enough money to make any difference.

“We need to cut spending. Since 2003, we’ve increased spending by 60 percent. Our revenues have increased by 20 percent, but they can’t keep up with the level of spending that this president and the Democratic majority have thrown on us.”

DeMint said that, when Democrats talk about taxing wealthy Americans, they really are talking about small business owners who declare profits as personal income.

“For them to keep going back to ‘oh you need to raise taxes on the rich,’ well, first of all, you won’t get any more revenue, and second, the rich are paying their fair share. And third, if we really want to grow revenue, we’ve got to improve our economy. The key thing right now is just reducing spending.”

DeMint said that he would consider voting to raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, which is set to be reached on Aug, 2, only if plans to “cut, cap, and balance” were in place.

“We need to cut spending significantly this year. We need to cap spending rates over the next two years leading us towards a balanced budget. And we need to pass a balanced budget amendment to our Constitution and send it to the states,” he said.

“Those are the three things that I have put as conditions before I would support a debt ceiling increase.”

The senator scotched rumors that he is ready to make a presidential run, saying that a report in The Hill misquoted him. “I have not changed my mind. I do not have any intention of running for president,” he said.

With DeMint firmly taking himself out of the race for the White House, he said he will support only a candidate who signs his pledge to push for a Constitutional amendment insisting on a balanced budget. All current Republican contenders have done so except Jon Huntsman who does not sign pledges,, on principle.

The former Utah governor’s stand will cost him, said DeMint, who has a proven track record when it comes to getting his preferred candidates, such as Republican Sens, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Marco Rubio of Florida, and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, into office.

“This pledge to cut spending, cap spending and balance our budget is, to me, the most important issue that we have right now as a country,” he said. “There are some pledges that are good and some pledges that are bad, but this one is essential.

He said he will not support anyone who will not sign up. “I don’t need a president like that, and I don’t intend to support one.”

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