In a phone interview with TWI following his speech to the Tea Party crowd this afternoon in Washington, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) laid out his philosophy for applying the Constitution to health care. In a nutshell: invoke the Constitution when it’s expedient to do so, ignore it when it’s not.
Asked whether states should use the 10th Amendment to prevent health care reform from taking effect, he replied that an assertion of states’ rights was “probably the only way we’re going to stop this reckless spending.” He continued, “There’s no constitutional authority for the government to actually do [the reform proposed by Democrats], but whether the courts take it up is a different matter.”
The rules change, however, when it comes to Medicare.
DeMint expressed doubts as to the legality of Medicare under the Constitution, but said, “Regardless of constitutionality, it is a promise that we have to keep. … I think Medicare and Social Security have to be protected.”
When asked if there was any chance that health reform legislation drafted by the Democratic Congress could win his support and that of his fellow conservatives, he replied, “No, because they’re not willing to talk about anything but bigger government.” The role of Republicans in the debate, he said, is to kill the current iteration of reform and start over.
“If we stop [Obama] here, we can get to real reform,” he said. “If he gets this through, he’ll go to cap-and-tax and all sorts of other things.”
He opened his speech to the Tea Party protesters by saying, “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Waterloo.” It’s not the first time that he’s referred to the health reform debate as the battle that will lead to the Obama administration’s demise. This time, however, he also pulled Republicans into the mix.
“I think you’re going to see some Republicans primaried who have been big spenders,” he said in the phone interview.