by Laurence M. Vance: A
Day of Dishonor
Jim DeMint, Now
or Never: Saving America from Economic Collapse (Center Street,
2012), xxix + 271 pgs., hardcover, $24.99.
warmonger, and police statist Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) recently
did an interview
about his new book Now or Never in which he said: "A
lot of the libertarian ideas that Ron Paul is talking about…should
not be alien to any Republican." Okay, Jim, so why are they
alien to you? They are obviously so alien to DeMint that he couldn’t
endorse Ron Paul in the South Carolina Republican presidential primary.
He didn’t endorse Ron Paul in 2008 either – he endorsed Mitt Romney.
newest book (he has written two others) extols the glories of –
believe it or not – individual liberty, decentralization, and limited
government, in the end his prescription is the same as that of John
Boehner, Eric Cantor, Mitch McConnell, Fox News, and the head of
the RNC: vote Republican.
Now or Never
contains ten chapters, the first nine with introductions by notable
conservatives: Senator Pat Toomey, Senator Marco Rubio, Senator
Mike Lee, Representative Steve King, Senator Tom Coburn, political
pundit Jack Hunter, political consultant Frank Luntz, former House
Majority Leader Dick Armey, and grass-roots activist Dave Zupan.
Each chapter except the last is divided into sections and concludes
with a "share the truth" section that summarizes the chapter
in bullet points. The book contains a foreword by Senator Rand Paul
as well as acknowledgments, an introduction, endnotes, and closing
sections on "for additional study" and "about the
contributors." There is a blurb on the front cover by conservative
talk show host Sean Hannity. There is no index.
his MBA from Clemson and working in business for a number of years,
DeMint was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in
1998 (not 1994 as his book’s dust jacket states). After three terms
in the House, he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004 and reelected
in 2010. He is known as one of the most conservative members of
the Senate. But this was not always the case. And this is not
necessarily a good thing anyway. And, of course, how hard is
it to be to the right of most of the socialists, statists, and charlatans
– of both parties – in the Senate?
One quick way
to judge a congressman’s constitutionalism, which does not necessarily
mean his conservatism, is the "The Freedom Index," published
about every six months by The New American magazine. This
index, which was once called "The Conservative Index,"
rates Congressman "based on their adherence to constitutional
principles of limited government, fiscal responsibility, national
sovereignty, and a traditional foreign policy of avoiding foreign
entanglements." The higher the number, the stronger is a congressman’s
commitment to these constitutional principles. Since DeMint speaks
highly of the Constitution in his new book, I think a look at his
scores on "The Freedom Index" is in order before going
on to his book.
been a member of three Congresses as a House member and four Congresses
as a Senate member.
In the House,
DeMint’s first Congress was the 106th Congress of 1999-2001,
where he scored a 65. His second was the 107th Congress
of 2001-2003, where he scored a 61. His third was the 108th
Congress of 2003-2005, where he scored a 46. Contrast DeMint’s scores
with congressman Ron Paul, who scored a 95, 91, and 100.
In the Senate,
DeMint’s first Congress was the 109th Congress of 2005-2007,
where he scored a 50. His second was the 110th Congress
of 2007-2009, where he scored a 79. His third was the 111th
Congress of 2009-2011, where he scored a 98. His fourth and current
Congress is the 112th Congress, where his score is
currently an 80. DeMint’s fellow senator, Lindsey Graham, scored
a 48, 53, 87, and 70. Contrast DeMint’s scores with congressman
Ron Paul’s perfect 100 scores in each of these four Congresses.
So, it is only
recently that DeMint has acted like a real conservative. His scores
went down when Bush was elected president and the Republicans controlled
the Congress. His scores started to go up when the Democrats took
over the Congress. And his scores went up even more when Obama was
DeMint is no Ron Paul, although he is a wannabe. Claims DeMint on
page 213 of Now or Never: "I have been called "Senator
No" because there are very few bills that come through Congress
that actually deserve a yes vote."
is to be commended for voting against the Republican
health care plan back in 2003, there are some rotten bills that
have come through Congress that he thought deserved a yes vote.
DeMint has voted for the Peace Corps, food stamps, agricultural
subsidies, WIC, rental assistance, gun control, the National School
Lunch and Breakfast Programs, the Child and Adult Care Food Program,
the After-School Snack Program, and the National Science Foundation.
He also voted regularly to fund the Departments of Labor, Education,
and Health and Human Services, and to create the Department of Homeland
Security. And Senator DeMint claims to believe in the Constitution
and limited government?
In Now or
Never, DeMint recognizes America’s impending economic collapse.
The national debt "now exceeds the size of our total economy."
The federal government has "approximately $100 trillion in
unfunded liabilities." The government is borrowing 43 cents
for every dollar spent, "with no way to pay it back."
recognizes that congressional spending is out of control:
and bureaucrats continue to spend more than we bring in every
irresponsibility has become the new norm.
politicians continue to invent new ways to spend money.
He blames both
Democrats and Republicans for their fiscal irresponsibility. Not
only do "President Obama and congressional Democrats seem to
wake up every morning with new ideas for more government programs
and new regulations to restrict freedom," but there are also
"many reckless spenders in the Republican Party."
DeMint recognizes the damage done by the federal regulatory state:
economy is burdened with federal policies that include the highest
corporate tax rate in the world, unbridled litigation, and costly
of federal control over states and the private sector has contributed
to major financial problems for the states and continues to hobble
the American economy.
have expanded their control over businesses to the point where
America now has one of the most unfriendly business environments
in the free world.
now have the government owning or controlling a large and unprecedented
part of America’s economic activity.
welfare and dependency:
Americans are dependent on the federal government for their jobs,
income, health care, housing, food, and education.
have only served to subsidize the poverty problem, not cure it.
Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society.
the book, DeMint praises what is good:
decentralization of power, individualism, limited government,
balanced budgets, decentralization, independence, personal responsibility,
individual responsibility, decentralized political power, capitalism,
free enterprise, entrepreneurship, low taxes, the centrality of
the individual in a free society, federalism, and states’ rights;
what is bad:
Europe, Wall Street bailouts, central planning, collectivist agenda,
dependency, redistribution of wealth, centralization, welfare,
federal entitlements, big-government ideas, socialism, a centralized
political structure, progressivism, unlimited government, big
government, central economic planning, collectivist social policies,
centralized political power, collectivist solutions, overbearing
central government, collectivist government action, and unions.
He even quotes
Thomas Woods, Andrew Napolitano, Milton Friedman, Friedrich Hayek,
Ron Paul, and Andrew Bacevich.
DeMint is not
afraid to take on his own party:
few Republicans who have been more critical of my own party than
in Washington have not been true to the core principles of our
party. After gaining the majority in Congress and electing a Republican
president in 2000, we violated practically every principle of
our party platform.
He terms the
Bush years "big-government" years. He acknowledges that
Bush "doubled the size of government and the debt."
I wish I could
say that DeMint is a closet libertarian who actually believes in
and votes for "the libertarian ideas that Ron Paul is talking
about," but such is not the case. Demint knows how to say the
right things and quote the right people and criticize the right
things, but it is his voting record, his proposals, and what he
doesn’t say that reveal the true Jim DeMint.
the public school system. He is critical of President Carter creating
"the Department of Education to centralize control of public
education in Washington." Yet, he believes that "public
funding of education can be justified because individuals with character
and skills benefit society as a whole." According to DeMint’s
In the dynamic,
uncharted territory of the global economy of the 21st century,
we must realize that federally funding public education does not
have to mean federal government-controlled education. America’s
hallmark commitment to education is key to both our individual
and national success. We can never guarantee our students a lifetime
of employment but we must invest in innovative ideas that will
ensure them a lifetime of employability. Only then will success
in school truly equate to success in life.
He wants federal
education money to be block-granted to the states. DeMint talks
about school choice, but doesn’t say that allowing parents to choose
where to send their children to school with other people’s money
is made possible by the redistribution of wealth.
that Bush "doubled the Department of Education with No Child
Left Behind." He complains that Bush compromised with Senator
Ted Kennedy. He complains that Bush’s proposal included "more
centralized federal control of public education." He mockingly
calls Bush’s program "More Children Left Behind." But
when it came time in 2001 for the final vote on H.R.1,
the No Child Left Behind Act, DeMint voted for it. As did Pat Toomey,
who wrote the introduction to the first chapter of DeMint’s book.
B: The Debt Limit
In Now or
Never, Jim DeMint rails against raising the debt limit. He faults
Obama for "the fourth time in his presidency," asking
Congress "to increase America’s debt limit by another two trillion
dollars." He himself hasn’t voted to raise the debt limit since
the Democrats took control of the Congress in 2006, but this doesn’t
mean that he didn’t vote to raise it before then or would vote to
raise it now. When DeMint was elected to Congress in 1998, the debt
limit was "only" $5.95 trillion. Bush and the Republicans
then raised the debt limit four times from 2002 to 2006 and then
Bush and the Democrats raised it again three more times before Obama
was sworn in.
On June 28,
2002, the debt ceiling was raised from $5.95 trillion to $6.4 trillion.
DeMint voted in favor of what became Public
On April 27,
2003, the debt ceiling was raised from $6.4 trillion to $7.384 trillion.
DeMint voted in favor of what became Public
18, 2004, the debt ceiling was raised from $7.384 trillion to $8.184
trillion. DeMint voted in favor of what became Public
On March 20,
2006, the debt ceiling was raised from $8.184 trillion to $8.965
trillion. DeMint voted in favor of what became Public
no trouble raising the debt limit when the Republicans were in charge,
but was even willing to raise it under Obama. Notice carefully what
he says on page 90 of Now or Never: "Our plan was to
get enough Republicans to oppose any increase in the debt limit
until the Democrats agreed to three things." Notice the word
"until." Here is DeMint again on the same page: "I
was not aware of any Republican who did not agree with our three
demands [cut, cap, balance]. The only question was: were they willing
to stand firm against any increase in the debt limit until President
Obama and the Democrats agreed to join us?" Notice the word
C: The Welfare State
is critical of the New Deal, the Great Society, and entitlements,
calls Social Security a "fundamentally flawed program,"
rails against ObamaCare, says that "Social Security and Medicare
force Americans of all income brackets into some level of government
dependency," and maintains that "health-care spending
and Social Security will soon consume the entire federal budget,"
he wants to save Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Here are
his own words:
plan on having a field day in 2012 by telling voters Republicans
want to cut Medicare. Not only is this not true, it is ObamaCare
that actually cuts Medicare.
are insisting that entitlements can be saved only by making tough
and practical cost-cutting decisions. The Democrats seem to think
that Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security can be saved through
magic. Democrats continue to portray Republican attempts to reform
entitlements as cutting or harming these programs – when in fact
the persistent refusal to reform entitlements is the surest way
to end them.
block grants and subsidies. He defends House Budget Committee Chairman
Paul Ryan’s plan to give retiring seniors "an annual subsidy
from $8,000 to $12,000 to help pay for a personal health plan."
He suggests "a block grant program for Medicaid would give
states the opportunity to opt out of federal mandates and administer
the program as they see fit." DeMint mentions a proposal of
his in a previous book to "phase out federal welfare programs,
and give block grants to states to partner with churches and charitable
groups to assist the poor. Use federal block grants to assist states
in setting up safety net programs to provide support for poor and
disabled citizens." But why should taxpayer money be funneled
through federal bureaucrats in Washington D.C.? What DeMint considers
to be federalism is still wealth transfers and income redistribution.
D: The Warfare State
One of the
biggest reasons why America needs to be saved from economic collapse
is all the money wasted on the empire of troops and bases that encircles
the globe and foreign wars and military interventions. DeMint is
silent about these budget-busters in his book. This is because he
fully supports the warfare state in all its glory. According to
his congressional website:
DeMint believes terrorism is the greatest threat posed to America
and that the United States must remain committed to the long war
on global terror. We can not afford to stand by while networks
of terror assemble, plan and act against free and open societies.
America must pursue terrorists and any one who supports their
murderous plans. In Washington, Sen. DeMint has been a strong
supporter of the men and women fighting this war. He has consistently
voted to ensure our troops had all the funding and equipment they
need to succeed. He has also fought members of Congress who try
to divert war funding to their states and districts, and those
who preach intolerance against our men and women in uniform.
to voting in favor of invading Iraq in 2003, DeMint voted for every
major war spending appropriation bill until the election of Obama.
After that he has a mixed record. Here are the major war bills he
voted for under Bush along with the amounts appropriated:
- FY2001 Emergency
Supplemental Appropriations Act for Recovery from and Response
to Terrorist Attacks on the United States, P.L. 107-38, 9/18/01,
- FY2002 Department
of Defense and Emergency Terrorism Response Act, P.L. 107-117,
1/10/02, $3.4 billion
- FY2002 Emergency
Supplemental, P.L. 107-206, 8/2/02, $14.1 billion
- FY2003 Consolidated
Appropriations, P.L. 108-7, 2/20/03, $10.4 billion
- FY2003 Emergency
Supplemental, P.L. 108-11, 4/16/03, $66.0 billion
- FY2003 DOD
Appropriations, P.L. 107-248, 10/23/02, $7.1 billion
- FY2004 Emergency
Supplemental, P.L. 108-106, 11/6/03, $86.1 billion
- FY2005 DOD
Appropriations Act, P.L. 108-287, 8/5/04, $27.8 billion
- FY2005 Supplemental
Appropriations, P.L. 109-13, 5/11/05, $79.0 billion
- FY2006 DOD
Appropriations Act, P.L. 109-148 12/30/05, $50.8 billion
- FY2006 Emergency
Supplemental, P.L. 109-234 6/15/06, $69.2
- FY2007 DOD
Appropriations Act, P.L. 109-289 9/29/06, $70.5 billion
- FY2007 Supplemental,
P.L. 110-28, 5/25/07, $98.7 billion
- FY2008 Continuing
Resolution, P.L. 110-92 9/29/07, $5.2 billion
- FY2008 Consolidated
Appropriations Act, P.L. 110-161, 12/26/07, $73.2 billion
Supplemental bill also contained an increase in the federal minimum
wage by $2.10 an hour.
in favor of the Patriot Act (H.R.3162,
P.L. 107-56) and for its most recent renewal (S.990,
P.L. 112-14). He voted for the Protect America Act (S.1927,
P.L. 110-55) to allow warrantless electronic eavesdropping. He also
recently voted for the original Senate version of the National
Defense Authorization Act (S.1867)
that contained the same indefinite detention provisions that appeared
in the final bill. He also voted against an amendment to this bill
to limit the authority of the Armed Forces to detain U.S. citizens
(Senators Mike Lee and Rand Paul voted for the amendment; Senators
Pat Toomey and Marco Rubio voted for the original Senate bill, against
the amendment, and for the final bill).
E: The Unsaid
There are many
areas where the federal government shouldn’t be spending any money
at all that DeMint never mentions. Like foreign aid, the war on
drugs, and the many welfare programs that he has voted to support
over the years. But since this review is already too long, I move
on to the conclusion.
to America’s economic woes is a simple one: vote Republican. The
country "may not survive another four years of President Obama
and a Democrat-controlled Senate." Americans need to vote Republican
because "conservatives do not yet have the votes necessary
to repeal the devastating policies enacted in the two years of total
Democrat control." This sounds strangely like the Republicans
under President Clinton whining about needing a veto-proof majority
in the Congress or a Republican in the White House to get enough
votes to overturn Clinton’s devastating policies. Nevertheless,
DeMint considers his book to "be a handbook for the 2012 elections
and beyond." He believes that "the 2012 elections for
the White House and Congress may be the last chance for Americans
to turn things around." Of course, no one should vote for Democrats
since they "always expand government and spending." Most
Democrats "simply do not share the American vision of limited
government, decentralized political power, and the centrality of
individualism." Oh, Republicans "have had their lapses,"
and "the Republican Party is not perfect." But to conservatives
like DeMint, everything bad that Republicans have done is always
the fault of the Democrats:
when Republicans compromise with Democrats, America loses.
every time Republicans compromise with Democrats, we end up with
more spending and federal control.
have been criticized often for doubling the national debt (due
in large part to a Democrat-controlled congress) from less than
a trillion dollars to two trillion.
a Republican president and a Republican majority in Congress,
Democrats were able to force compromises that led to more federal
spending and control of education, health care, banking, transportation,
It’s like the
eight years of George W. Bush never happened.
believes that "unless freedom-loving Americans can unite within
the Republican Party, the Democrats will win every election and
continue to shamelessly lead our nation toward an economic collapse,"
he calls on "every citizen who believes in freedom and opportunity"
to "abandon the Democratic Party and help us restore a Republican
Party that is principled, passionate, and worthy of the trust of
in his last chapter of Now or Never that "the definition
of insanity is to keep doing the same thing expecting different
results." This he applies to the Democratic Party’s economic
agenda. But this is exactly what conservatives keep doing: Voting
Republican and then wishing, hoping, and praying that something
better will come of it than the last time they did so. Meanwhile,
the government grows larger, spending continues to rise, the welfare
state remains intact, the Constitution is still violated, regulations
increase, the police state gets more tyrannical, and more of our
liberties are taken away.
there to be "irreconcilable differences" between Democrats
and Republicans. But as anyone knows who observed the Republican
Party when it had total control of the federal government for over
four years under Bush – like the control DeMint wants Americans
to give Republicans in the 2012 election – the only "irreconcilable
differences" between the two parties is how to run the welfare/warfare/regulatory/police
M. Vance [send him mail]
writes from central Florida. He is the author of Christianity
and War and Other Essays Against the Warfare State, The
Revolution that Wasn't, and Rethinking
the Good War. His latest book is The
Quatercentenary of the King James Bible. Visit his
© 2012 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in
part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.
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