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DeMint's 'American Option' Smart Alternative to Stimulus

Tuesday, 03 Feb 2009 06:10 PM

By Ronald Kessler

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The Democrats’ stimulus bill is a “sham” that could pass unless enough angry voters besiege Congress with calls and emails, Sen. Jim DeMint, chairman of the Senate Steering Committee, tells Newsmax.

Citing a new Gallup poll showing that three out of four Americans oppose the stimulus in its current form, the South Carolina Republican says Americans are beginning to understand what the stimulus bill is: a grab bag of spending measures that Democrats lusted after for years and that will do little to stimulate the economy.

“When people see bike trails and hiking trails and golf courses, they know this is not designed to stimulate the economy and create jobs,” DeMint says. “It’s just basically special-interest pork barrel spending. I think the real shame is when people here know that Americans are hurting, and people are losing jobs, and to use that as an excuse to spend money is really terrible.”

Appearing on MSNBC, ChuckTodd of NBC has cited private conversations with Democrats who “admit the Republicans have won the spin war here.” To counteract that, President Obama has gone on a media offensive, conducting interviews in the Oval Office with ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and FOX News.

But DeMint says the Democrats are being driven not by polls but by special or parochial interests. “No longer are politicians working for the good of the country,” he says.

As chairman of the Senate Steering Committee, DeMint heads the caucus of conservative senators that includes the majority of the Republican Conference. As an alternative to the stimulus bill, he has introduced legislation co-sponsored by Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, aimed at creating nearly 18 million jobs over the next 10 years by cutting taxes.

The measure — called the American Option — would cost almost as much as the $1.2 trillion bill passed by the House last week.

“The question here is not whether we do something, it’s how we do it,” DeMint says. “Essentially what we’re talking about is how do we put an extra trillion dollars in our economy for people to spend and businesses to use to hire people and buy capital equipment? There are two basic approaches to that. One is you take the money out of the private economy as the government, and then decide where you want it to go. That’s what we’re seeing from the Democrat bills in the House and the Senate. The other way to do it, which is more of a common-sense way, is consistent with free people and free markets. It’s just to leave the trillion dollars in the economy and not take it out through taxes.”

Obama met with the steering committee last week. He was open and listened, DeMint says.

“I think he at least appears to be somewhat embarrassed by some of the things that are in the bill,” DeMint observes. “I know there are a number of Democrat senators who are embarrassed by this, and they want some changes made. I think if they try to push it through without any changes, it’ll fail.”

The real danger, DeMint notes, is they will make some changes as window-dressing but the contours of the bill will remain the same.

“The Democrats desperately want Republicans to share ownership of this,” DeMint says. “If it passes the way it is, it’s going to pass as a Democrat bill, and I don’t think they want that because I doubt that anyone in the administration really thinks it’s going to work.”

DeMint bases that claim on the fact that the White House sees the same analyses Republicans see.

“The Congressional Budget Office is saying only half of the money is going to get out over a two-year period,” DeMint says. “Usually government spending is one of the slowest ways to get money in the economy. I can’t believe they would think this would work.”

DeMint says that while the House and Senate versions of the bill include some tax cuts, they are temporary.

“Businesses and people don’t make long-term economic decisions based on just a temporary hit,” he says. “Really what we need now in the economy is some predictability, some certainty, and we need to know that the tax rates are not going to explode in the next two years, which they’re scheduled to do.”

The American Option, developed by the Heritage Foundation, offers that, DeMint says.

The bill would permanently repeal the alternative minimum tax, keep capital gains and dividends taxes at 15 percent, repeal the marriage tax penalty, simplify itemized deductions to include only home mortgage interest and charitable contributions, and lower from 35 percent to 25 percent both the corporate tax rate and the top marginal income rates that are paid by most of the small businesses that create new jobs.

Whether some of these ideas are adopted or the Democrats’ spending approach passes depends a lot “on the outrage of the American people, and to what degree they call and email senators,” DeMint says.

Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via
e-mail. Go here now.

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

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