darling Sen. Jim DeMint
and liberal TV host Jon Stewart
got into a 30-minute argument about government power on Wednesday – but viewers saw little of it as most of it was cut from Stewarts’s show for time reasons.
Instead those that tuned into Comedy Central’s Daily Show
got to hear the first few minutes and a segment of mutual backslapping between the two ideological rivals that concluded their talk.
What they missed included:
- Stewart berating DeMint for not agreeing that the national debt could be paid off by repealing the George W. Bush tax cuts and the Alternative Minimum Tax;
- DeMint claiming that every retiree would be a millionaire if social security had been handled properly;
- Stewart suggesting that DeMint blamed President Barack Obama for everything, including the fact that America’s population is aging;
- Stewart saying he would welcome higher taxes as the money he gets for his show is completely out of whack with the work he does; and
- DeMint saying that politicians in the two parties just “perform for C-SPAN and then go out to dinner.”
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Stewart put the full version of the interview on his website, something he regularly does with guests who agree to extend their usual talk with him.
The South Carolina senator appeared on the show to promote his book, “Now or Never,” which Stewart attacked as “apocalyptic.” He said the language of conservatives, calling opponents “socialist” or “unpatriotic” prevented honest debate on serious issues.
“The sense I get from the book is that you believe the Democrats don’t have an interest in helping the poor, they have an interest in creating a dependent underclass that is purely accepting their largesse in return for votes. You ascribe to them motivations that are incredibly Machiavellian and incredibly pernicious.”
DeMint replied, “I said Republicans are part of the problem and, as you know, I’ve worked to unseat some of the Republicans and I’m not very popular for that. But we just have to realize that we can’t stay on the same track that we are right now and we need to have an honest debate about how to solve it.”
But Stewart claimed the right makes it difficult to have that debate, claiming accusations about lack of patriotism are ”a toxin” that once injected is difficult to remove.
“It’s a less toxic thing than you think,” replied DeMint. “A lot of us perform for C-SPAN and then go out to dinner.”
During the cut portion of the interview, Stewart claimed that government would not need to be shrunk if the Bush tax cuts were repealed, to which DeMint replied, “Three percent of Americans pay over half of the taxes.
“They make a third of the income and pay over half of the taxes,” he added. When Stewart claimed the super-rich are much better off now than they were 40 years ago, the senator responded, “They’ve had a good run. A lot of them have earned it.”
But Stewart shot back, “I certainly haven’t. The money that I get is so disproportionate to what I do, you want to bring my tax rates up, I’d be happy.”
When DeMint said tax cuts under Presidents Kennedy, Reagan and George W. Bush had led to increased revenues, Stewart cut him off. “That’s not true,” he claimed.
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The comedian even suggested that DeMint in his book, which the senator subtitled “Saving America from Economic Collapse,” had blamed Obama for America’s aging population, something that DeMint refuted.
DeMint stuck to his small government guns, claiming that most programs run from Washington failed. He said that if social security had been handled properly retirees who had contributed 12.4 percent of their income their entire working life should be millionaires. “But the program is broke and there is not a penny in it.”
In the end the pair parted company amicably with Stewart asking DeMint to admit he had enjoyed the discussion, to which DeMint replied, “More than I thought.”
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