In the run-up to the South Carolina primary, Palmetto State Republican senator Jim DeMint may be the most-wanted endorsement that no one will get: He’s not endorsing. But he’s certainly talking about the upcoming elections and providing the tools for a deeper — and more informed — engagement. In an interview with National Review Online’s Kathryn Jean Lopez, he talks about his new book, Now or Never: Saving America from Economic Collapse, and how he hopes to do just that.KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ
: Is pending “economic collapse” the message a Republican candidate has to convey this year? How can he do it without sounding alarmist? Can it even plausibly be heard above the Obama campaign’s message that Republicans are the problem in Washington?
SEN. JIM DEMINT: Our candidates must be able to speak the truth to Americans. And the truth is, we are in trouble. That doesn’t mean we’re doomed; it means we must act now to save our country. I can’t think of a more inspiring cause. While the $15 trillion debt is not a happy topic, it’s an unavoidable one. Ignoring our debt and deficits only makes them more dangerous.
As Ronald Reagan once said, we should not raise a banner of pale pastels, “but bold colors which make it unmistakably clear where we stand on all of the issues troubling the people.” I want a Republican party full of happy warriors with bold battle plans. We can turn the tide, but we must have the courage to do so. If we become too scared to confront the chief problems of our time, there is no hope of ever solving them.
As for Obama, I believe his deeply divisive and negative campaign will backfire. America has always prided itself on being a classless society, and the kind of class warfare he is engaging in to secure his far-left base is not appealing to most Americans. He is no longer the candidate of “hope” and “change.” He is a president who has wasted $4 trillion, lost our nation’s cherished AAA rating, blatantly ignored the Constitution on a whole range of issues, and lost all credibility when it comes to job creation, cutting spending, and the economy.
LOPEZ: “Despite calls to ‘tax the rich,’” you write, “we cannot solve our debt problem by raising taxes.” Isn’t that the wrong message for an Occupy Wall Street time? A time when even Republicans are demonizing businessmen?
DEMINT: First of all, no candidate is going to win by catering to the alleged Occupy Wall Street vote. Not even Barack Obama. Otherwise he would take a walk across the street from the White House and start camping out with them. More importantly, Congress could not raise taxes high enough to keep up with their spending habit. Earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal considered what would happen if we taxed the top 1 percent of income earners at a 100 percent rate. Doing so would completely destroy the key wealth-creating sector of our economy and only net the government about $938 billion — which the WSJ accurately described as “sand on the beach amid the $4 trillion White House budget, a $1.65 trillion deficit, and spending at 25 percent as a share of the economy, a post–World War II record.” As my colleague Marco Rubio has said, “We don’t need new taxes, we need new taxpayers,” meaning the only way to truly restore the economy is by increasing jobs and growing the economy — not by shrinking the nation’s wealth to further grow government.