Former South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint says President Barack Obama's chief mission is to split the Republican Party in his handling of issues like immigration and the economy.
"He is bringing one emotional and divisive issue after another to try to split the Republican Party and really split the American people,'' DeMint, now president of the Heritage Foundation, told Newsmax TV.
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"He’s pretending to be the benevolent referee in all of this, but he’s a long way from being a leader.''
DeMint is concerned with the opinion of several Democratic leaders who say if Congress doesn’t reach a comprehensive deal on immigration this year that Obama may act on reform by executive order.
"The president is not too encumbered by the Constitution or a lot of our laws,'' he said.
"And if he does something that’s obviously unconstitutional, it’s something we probably have to appeal to the court . . . The president is clearly testing the limits on the constitutionality of his decisions."
The Heritage Foundation on Monday released a new study warning that the Senate’s bipartisan immigration reform legislation would cost taxpayers $6.3 trillion in new spending entitlements and social programs.
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"With all of this debt as a nation we need to look at the cost of an amnesty that is being talked about in this bill,'' DeMint said.
"The cost is staggering and our hope is that Congress will consider this cost as they look at this legislation.''
A number of conservatives and high profile Republicans have criticized the Heritage study, including Sen. Paul Ryan, who said it ignored the economic growth that would be created by immigration reform.
But DeMint said he doesn't buy that argument.
"At Heritage, we are speaking up on behalf of those who come here lawfully, our lawful immigrants and American citizens,'' he said.
"But the criticism that allowing unlawfuls to become citizens and beneficiaries of our welfare programs is somehow going to help our economy — it’s really hard to justify that.''
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