“The Politics of Obamacare”
Report by Betty Sakai
With over five hundred (500) in attendance, the Forum celebrated its 10th Anniversary and welcomed Heritage Foundation President, Jim De Mint, with standing applause! As one might find in the warm, familiar traditions of the south, Jim De Mint’s presentation felt as comfortable as asking a good friend to stop by for a cup of sweet mint tea under the Magnolia Tree. He moved his audience with laughter and admonished everyone to find ways to reach out to others, to not rely on Washington for answers. He then chuckled and noted that being at the Forum felt very familiar… almost like visiting with family…especially since the NSA had given him everyone’s telephone conversations and emails….
He went on to discuss the importance of acknowledging the accomplishments of those who have come before us, reminding Conservatives that today’s innovations are built upon the innovations of past generations. Everything we have today is connected to the inventions and developments of the past. The comparison between Progressives and Conservatives is like the difference between children and their parents. Children think their parents don’t know a whole lot. Children think in terms of the present and show little regard for the innovations, the developments of the past. But none of today’s plug-in devices would work without the work of the innovators in years past. We all stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. Conservatives are not bound by the past, but learn from the past to help make life better today. Those who deny the past, he admonished, like Progressives Clinton and Obama, play with and change the meanings of words to fit their agenda. Progressives disregard honesty and personal responsibility, down-play resourcefulness, disparage free-market principals, and use the media as a sword to persuade and vilify, to falsely accuse Conservatives of being stuck in the past.
Citing an incident where a man agreed with Conservative talking points and then said he voted for Obama, DeMint implored his listeners to understand that it’s not about winning the argument. It’s about perception. It’s how we move the lives of others in a positive direction to make their life better. It’s about helping people connect. He talked extensively about the Heritage Foundation’s goal of helping the Conservative Movement understand how to connect with Americans from all walks of life, how to communicate Conservative ideas and solutions.
Considering Jim DeMint’s background: He was raised by a single mother, attended the University of Tennessee where he received a Bachelor of Science Degree in communication, and then attended Clemson University where he earned a Master’s Degree in business administration. He worked ten (10) years in research, advertising, and marketing, and then started his own Greenville-based marketing research and strategic planning business, the DeMint Group. He immersed himself in Greenville civic life, attended the Presbyterian Church, and volunteered to lead numerous charitable organizations. He ran the DeMint Group until 1998 when he was elected as a Republican to the first of three (3) terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. He kept his promise to serve only three (3) two-year terms in the House and in 2004 was elected to the U. S. Senate, advocating limited government, individual liberty, a strong national defense, and traditional values – all core tenets of America’s founding and the Heritage Foundation’s policy mission.
As a Senator, Jim DeMint gained national attention as he worked to end the corrupt system of Congressional ear-marks, helped stop the 2007 misguided amnesty bill, helped defeat the Law of the Sea Treaty which would have transferred U.S. sovereignty to the United Nations, and argued for comprehensive missile defense. In April, 2013, Jim DeMint became President of the Heritage Foundation, an organization which he attributes to informing and inspiring him to enter politics and government. Present at the Forum was his wife, Debbie. They have four children and four grandchildren and reportedly have “taken a shine” to being grandparents.
Unafraid to challenge the status quo, DeMint has given others hope by showing them that courage, dignity, and firmness of principal can happen, and will work. Books written by Jim DeMint include: Now or Never, Saving America from Economic Collapse, The Great American Awakening, and Saving Freedom: We Can Stop America’s Slide into Socialism.
Calling Obamacare the poster child of Progressivism, DeMint blasted Progressives for throwing out the best health-care system in the world, a system not perfect and needing improvement, but one that produces much better results than either Britain or Canada. Obamacare, he added, is not about health-care. It’s about control. It’s about government controlling each one of us, making our decisions for us, controlling the doctor-patient relationship. Similar programs in countries all over the world have not worked. The government offers to help in exchange for control -- of everything -- how much health care we can have, where we can live and work, what we can drive, what thoughts and speech we are permitted, how we parent, what our children will learn in school, what foods we can eat, what soft-drinks we can buy, etc.
De Mint reminded us that Americans have always been exceptional. America is the only country in the world that is “bottom-up” instead of “top-down”. We have been successful because Americans have different ideas and move into the future embracing those ideas. Conservatives have been doing this for a very long time. For too long now, people have been looking to Washington to solve their problems. But Washington cannot solve our problems. No matter the party, no matter who is sent to Washington, the system in Congress will continue to spend, borrow, and add to the nation’s debt. What matters is that when the people at home draw the line, when they wake up to understand they cannot ask Washington to change until they themselves change, then they will send representatives to Washington who truly represent them.
With four (4) more years left in his second term in the Senate, De Mint realized the “action was outside of Washington, D.C.” Asked who he admires, he responded: Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and others who are principled, energetic, and diverse – Representatives who do what they are elected to do, who are shaking things up. DeMint added that all of these Representatives are opposed by the current Republican leadership. He said the hope for changing Washington lies in gatherings like the Conservative Forum where people talk to others and the word gets around to others they know – and eventually to hundreds and thousands of others who feel the same way. He added that because of the media, many people are confused and wary about Conservatives. But this may change as the people experience Obamacare.
Asked who the Republican leaders are, De Mint said there are leaders who hold positions and there are leaders who truly represent the people. Those who represent the people are men like Scott Walker and Ted Cruz and others. What the people want is for someone to take their voice and fight for them, to do what they promised to do during their campaign. As a newly elected Senator, Ted Cruz was asked why he was not following protocol. He answered, “I am only doing what I promised to do in my campaign.” De Mint instructed that the real leaders of America are not the politicians. They are the moms, the dads, the coaches, individuals like those honored by the Forum celebrating its 10th Anniversary. The more folks participate, he said, the less we need to rely on politicians. And then he quipped, “This might lead to term limits”….
Walking his listeners through the politics of Obamacare, De Mint said the Tea Party gave the advantage to House Republicans in 2010. New members came in on the pledge of getting rid of Obamacare. Their zeal was blocked by the Republican leadership that convinced them to wait until August when the debt limit would be fought. But by August the leadership had not proposed a plan, so Jim De Mint and others came up with “Cut, Cap, and Balance”. At the Republican Conference, De Mint and the others were very unpopular with the Republican leadership. Although 70% of Americans agreed, De Mint and others lost the battle, but were successful in slowing the growth of the debt for the first time in years. But the “sequester” as it was called – was more symbolic than consequential. It slowed the spending down only two percent (2%), from 69% to 67% over ten (10) years. Alarmingly, most of the cuts were from our nation’s military.
Concerning Obamacare, what the Republican leaders decided was that it would be best to not shake things up, to let Obamacare be experienced by the voters. But the problem with this, De Mint confided, is that everything in Washington once implemented never goes away. Conservatives had been trying to balance the budget for years. They tried to examine the Social Security-Medicare programs but were unsuccessful because the media failed to report their efforts objectively and the people reacted negatively, afraid the money they had been required to put into Social Security would be lost – monthly benefits they depend upon in retirement.
Constitutionally, the House had the power to not fund Obamacare. The House voted to fund the government but not Obamacare. But Obama refused to not fund Obamacare, and in response to the House’s decision, Obama shut-down portions of the government. The Republican leadership thereafter decided to let Obamacare get established, to let the people experience it. The House passed a continuing resolution to re-examine the funding of Obamacare in three (3) months. What Democrats are hoping for is that Obamacare will morph into a government-controlled single-payer system, much like the health care systems of Canada and Great Britain, eliminating health insurance entirely.
The Heritage Foundation now hopes to slow down Obamacare. Hopefully by 2016 it may be reversed by the Senate if there is enough of an outcry from the American people. This did not happen in 2013 because the House leadership did not feel supported by the American people. The media had not properly informed the people about Obamacare. Hopefully there will be enough outcry over the effects of Obamacare that it can be reversed.
De Mint admitted that there are a lot of people on Capitol Hill who are unhappy with the Heritage Foundation and its sister organization, Heritage Action. This, he laughed, makes him very happy! Heritage Action researches and organizes people to fight against such things as the internet sales tax which would have burdened the people in the states to the benefit of big business, the amnesty bill that works against the American middle class working man and woman, and other bills not easy to find out about as an individual. Heritage Action also reports to subscribers the voting record of their Congressional representatives.
Jim De Mint concluded that we should talk about the things that work, things that make ourselves and our grandchildren successful. Progressives don’t talk about their track record. They tell people they will fix things but they never do. The fact is our young people will be paying for what Progressives have done for the rest of their lives. The compromises today in Washington are all on the left side of the ledger with more spending. After a while, it will be hard to deny the Conservative voice.
Concluding his presentation, Jim De Mint emphasized promoting the right ideas. The key, he said, is in the hands of the people like those who attend the Forum. What followed was another long and loud expression of appreciation -- standing applause! The information Jim De Mint provided was enlightening and the Forum expressed profound appreciation both for his work and his presentation. Forum President, Howard Meyers, presented Jim De Mint with the Forum’s 2013 Citizen of the Year Award, a well-deserved honor.
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