Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., tells Newsmax that efforts to derail Obamacare in the Senate have been "to a large degree inconsequential" this week, but adds that a GOP midterm landslide in November could empower the GOP to use the appropriations process to impede its implementation.
His remarks in an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV appeared to signal that Republican leaders are beginning to turn their attention away from the Senate reconciliation process, to focus on presenting the midterm elections as the best opportunity to thwart the Democratic overhaul of the healthcare system.
Editor's Note: See the entire exclusive Newsmax.TV interview with Sen. Jim DeMint below
DeMint told Newsmax.TV that it is "probably correct" that the GOP would need to regain control of the House, the Senate, and the presidency to repeal the legislation altogether.
"But we do have a chance if we have a good election this November, and repeal all the Democrats who voted for this thing, to slow down the implementation," he says. "Through the appropriation process we can disallow the use of funds to hire the 16,000 IRS agents, and other aspects of this plan. So I'm going to continue the fight every day."
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Even after legislation is signed, it needs congressional authorization for funding. DeMint suggests a big enough GOP win in November could prevent or delay that.
DeMint acknowledged Wednesday that Senate Republicans are limited in their ability to derail the legislation. They've raised parliamentary objections and have tried to get Democrats to alter the measure in a way that would require the House to vote on it again. Thus far, those efforts have been unsuccessful.
"The bill itself has already been signed into law," DeMint says. "What we're doing now in the Senate is to a large degree inconsequential. Most of what they're trying to add to the bill are additional taxes, additional regulations. We're trying to stop that. Some of this is part of the promises they made to House members that they would make the bill more liberal after they signed it into law. But the bill itself is law.
"We'll continue to do everything we can to fight the worsening of the bill this week," he tells Newsmax, "but they only need 51 votes to get a lot of it done, and so Republicans can only spend the time making Americans more aware of how bad this bill really is."
Although Republicans are not softening their strident opposition to healthcare reform, it seems as if they are beginning to move beyond the legislative arena to position themselves for the upcoming elections.
Toward that end, DeMint said GOP leaders have launched a new Web site, repealitpledge.com. It asks voters to agree to the following statement: "I hereby pledge to support with my time, money, and vote only those candidates who vow to repeal President Obama's healthcare takeover."
In one indication that the voter backlash over healthcare reform could be substantial: As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 135,000 voters had signed the pledge.
"We're going to keep building that effort all over the country for house and senate candidates," DeMint tells Newsmax, "and I think this whole election is going to be about repealing this bill. The more people find out about it, the more upset they're going to get."
DeMint predicts that how members of congress voted on healthcare will become a "litmus test" voters will use to determine whom to vote for.
"I think it's a great campaign issue — not just healthcare — but that healthcare is a part of an even bigger issue, of the debt that is destroying our country right now, and really undermining our national security, all aspects of our lives," he says. "So if this healthcare bill stands … I'm convinced it will bankrupt our country, I'm convinced it will destroy the healthcare system that is now the best in the world. There's a lot we need to do to improve it, but this government is not going to improve the healthcare system."
Other points DeMint made during his wide-ranging interview on Newsmax.TV:
DeMint believes the bill eventually can be repealed, saying: "When people get the sense of what's happening to them, the invasion of our privacy and our freedom, I think Americans are going to be increasingly alarmed. And I do think we can repeal it."
Doing so probably will take more than one election, he says, but there is enough time because many parts of the bill don't take effect in the next three or four years.
Those urging the GOP to work for reform rather than repeal of the bill are wrong, he says.
“This bill can't be fixed," he tells Newsmax. "We really need to throw this whole thing out and start over with the right ideas that help people with preexisting conditions, that help lower the cost of health insurance. What they've done here is a number of things that are going to increase the cost of health insurance. It's going to cut from Medicare at a time we don't even have money to pay doctors to see Medicare patients."
The senator says Democrats intend to use the bill as a wedge to move the country to a government-run, single-payer healthcare system. President Obama "has said, and he's on video saying, that this is a transition, from a free system to more of a socialist, government-run system. That's been his objective, it's Barney Frank's objective, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid — they believe that healthcare should be run by the government.
The U.S. healthcare system is the best in the world because it has maintained some elements of a free-market system, he says, adding: "And that's what we need to continue to fight for. They in the last year have taken over our automotive business, our health insurance business, our mortgage business. The largest health insurance company in the country is now under government control. Americans are alarmed and outraged at the level of spending and debt and government takeovers. We owe it to Americans to stand up here and try to fight not only the healthcare, but the reckless, out-of-control spending that we see coming out of this Congress every week."
DeMint says he's convinced that, despite President Obama's recent executive order to the contrary, the president's reforms if implemented will lead to public-funding of abortions. "He is an abortion supporter," DeMint states. "Once the government gets in more control of our healthcare system, there is no question in my mind that the people running it will want it to pay or abortions, and it will.
He expects that an "emboldened" Obama will move aggressively to try to impose other major elements of his legislative agenda. But he also believes voters still have a say in what comes to pass. "If Americans stay as energized as they are now, I think it's still going to be hard for the president to push through his version of an amnesty bill, his cap-and-trade bill that's going to tax every American family with higher electricity costs, the card check bill that's trying to get the union bosses to force unionization throughout our country. So I think we're going to have to continue to fight," DeMint says.
Also, asked whether he now stands by his remark that, “if we’re able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo," DeMint didn't back down.
"I've just begun to fight," he tells Newsmax. "I think we're going to find out in November just whose Waterloo this is. I think the president has made a huge mistake by ignoring the American people and stuffing this bill down their throat. I think they're going to speak out real loudly in November."
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