Political Animal


May 06, 2011 1:50 PM Jim DeMint forgets we have access to Google

By Steve Benen

JIM DEMINT FORGETS WE HAVE ACCESS TO GOOGLE…. Sen. Jim DeMint (R) of South Carolina is arguably the most right-wing member of the Senate, a designation he accepts with some pride. In fact, in 2008, Mitt Romney sought out — and earned — DeMint’s endorsement precisely to help boost his bona fides with the GOP’s extremist base.

It’s what makes stories like this one from Dave Weigel that much more interesting.

In the spin room after last night’s debate, I asked DeMint whether he’d had his qualms about a health care mandate in 2007, when he endorsed Romney, and the mandate was law in Massachusetts.

“I got involved with him before that,” DeMint explained, “and the concept that was presented to me was the idea of moving people from government plans to private plans. That’s what the goal was. That’s how my conversations went, and that’s how it was presented. But the way it ended up…” he paused to think about this. “I cannot accept all the mandates, all the government exchanges. And it hasn’t worked. I think the goal of figuring out how you can move people from government policies to private insurance policies is a good goal. That’s one of the things that attracted me to what he was trying to do. Frankly, with the Democratic legislature in control there, I just think the way it ended up, we wouldn’t want it in our state or our country.”

What’s fascinating about this is the extent to which DeMint has no idea what he’s talking about.

Let’s set the record straight. Romney signed his health care reform package in Massachusetts into law in April 2006. It included an individual mandate, which has traditionally been a Republican idea. More than a year later, DeMint endorsed Romney’s presidential campaign, citing — you guessed it — Romney’s success on health care. Indeed, while Romney was defending health care mandates as part of his campaign, DeMint praised a health care policy based on mandates as being a “good conservative idea.”

DeMint added at the time that “the need to have everyone insured” was something that made sense for the “entire country.”

When Democrats based their health care policy around the same basic structure and principles a year ago, DeMint considered it radical socialism. It’s funny how that works out.

Now, part of this is about poking fun at DeMint’s absurdities. His response to Weigel last night made absolutely no sense.

But the other part of this is to drive home the point that the Republican Party’s shift to the right is happening at blinding speeds. The health care policy the Senate’s most conservative member loved in 2007 was deemed a communistic government takeover in 2009 — a detail that’s been largely ignored in the larger political discourse.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • smartalek on May 06, 2011 2:02 PM:

    For a while there, it would be a pretty common occurrence at many blogs, and in many, many comment threads, to see that old joke:
    "How can you tell when a Publican is lying? Whenever their lips are moving."
    Then you'd start to see a few variations on the theme:
    "Whenever they're speaking / writing / tweeting / texting and/or posting anything to the net."
    Now, however, I think it's clear that to properly cover the ground, it will have to be something along the lines of:
    "As long as they're alive."

  • walt on May 06, 2011 2:05 PM:

    Is it a shift to the right or, in my humble opinion, simply scorched-earth politics? There's nothing about the individual mandate that offends conservative principles (such as they are). What offends is the wrong party proposing it. Therein lies the only distinction worth noting. Republican: always good. Democrat: always bad.

  • Rod Hoffman on May 06, 2011 2:06 PM:

    There's a bit of a twist here.

    The Massachusetts plan had an individual mandate component all along - it's what got the insurers to sign on to the plan. Everybody, including Romney, agreed to it. But when the bill was passed, the Mittflopper said he was 'shocked, shocked' to learn that there was an individual mandate incuded in the bill and vetoed it.

    The Great and General Court (as we call the legislature here) rolled its collective eyes and passed the bill over the faux veto. Then, like the rest of us, it continued to count the days until he was gone, gone, gone.

  • c u n d gulag on May 06, 2011 2:08 PM:

    This is just a continuation of Nixons famous, "Well, if the President does it, it can't be against the law."

    Except now it's,
    'If a Democrat does it, it can't be right,' and 'If a Repulican does it, it can't be wrong,' and 'If a Republican does it a Democratic way, then it can't be right either'
    and 'If a Democrat does it a Republican way, then it's wrong, too.'

    They shift faster than dunes in a desert windstorm.

  • JimDeMented on May 06, 2011 2:16 PM:

    If the n!gger had not started supporting mandates, then it could still be a solid conservative republican idea!

  • SecularAnimist on May 06, 2011 2:19 PM:

    Steve Benen wrote: "Romney signed his health care reform package in Massachusetts into law in April 2006. It included an individual mandate, which has traditionally been a Republican idea ... When Democrats based their health care policy around the same basic structure and principles a year ago, DeMint considered it radical socialism. It's funny how that works out."


    And when Democrats threw single-payer, the public option, and Medicare expansion under the bus, and based the ACA on a 30-year-old Republican idea -- the requirement that all Americans buy insurance from for-profit corporations -- "sensible liberal" bloggers proclaimed it to be the equivalent of Social Security, Medicare, the New Deal, the Great Society and the Civil Rights Act all rolled into one.

    Which was every bit as ridiculous as DeMint calling it "radical socialism".

    It's funny how that works out.

  • KurtRex1453 on May 06, 2011 2:31 PM:

    I would rather have the Postal Service run my health insurance than have EXXON, AT&T, or GE run it, wouldn't you? But that's what Republicans want with their new budget proposals to privatize Medicaid and Medicare.

    It's all very fine if you are a member of the upper class who can afford health costs out of pocket, but for the rest of us who deal with health insurance companies we know they do not have the public interest in mind, only short term profit.

    Work against the public interest? Corporations? You say.

    Well, my young Randian apprentice let's look at the record, which shows many companies cut corners which proved disastrous to the public interest.  Union Carbide in India, BP in the Gulf of Mexico, EXXON In Alaska. There is no reason to think that health companies do any different given they continually raised premiums IN A RECESSION.

    Remember, we had pass laws to reign in corporations' greed 100 years ago. 

    So to the idealogue Republicans, I say not only NO, but HELL NO!

     America and the world was never more prosperous than during those times when people paid their fair share, this means we must tax the rich and use the money to build infrastructure paying good wages for good work to good people while protecting those who cannot protect themselves.

    My cartoon showing Mega Corporations, the uber rich, and the ultra hard right wing dancing on the middle class, poor and elderly expresses my feelings ( Celebrating Paul Ryan's Budget Gutting Medicaid and Medicare )  on the subject. Phaëthon makes an appearance with a story about scorpions and mice in which he explains that while squashing those who support your culture may be counter intuitive, like the scorpion stinging the mouse as they cross a stream causing both to drown, it is useless to blame the sxorpion as it is his nature to sting anything in his vicinity. In general I rather like it although the kooky consecrative caucus may not.

    Really, as you can see in my cartoon  of a crashed Rolls with the owner saying, "Well there goes my Bush Era tax cut" http://twitgoo.com/22l3pe the extra taxes really do not hurt the über rich at all. 

  • N.Wells on May 06, 2011 2:41 PM:

    "sensible liberal" bloggers proclaimed it to be the equivalent of Social Security, Medicare, the New Deal, the Great Society and the Civil Rights Act all rolled into one.

    No - "sensible" liberal bloggers called it a start, a beginning that we could hope to improve, the way it has often worked for big social programs. Some of us learned from Ted Kennedy's regrets about health care that half a loaf is way more bread than waiting for a whole perfect bakery to drop out of the sky.

  • howard on May 06, 2011 2:48 PM:

    thank you, n. wells, you beat me to the punch precisely.

    secularanimist is certainly on the side of truth and justice, but is strangely convinced of something no poll or election has shown to be true: that the american public is of a naturally progressive inclination.

  • neil b on May 06, 2011 3:07 PM:

    I know most here don't consider the distinction decisive, but to States-rights focussed conservatives, it does matter whether a State or the Federal Government does something. That has to at least be mentioned in these comparisons of Romney Care to "Obama Care" (considering the amount of leeway that Obama gave Congress, and how the plan turned out regarding Public Option etc. it is neither a good name for "his" plan, nor was it good to do it that way.)

  • exlibra on May 06, 2011 4:08 PM:

    Neil B, @3:07 PM

    The States vs The Feds distinction might be worth mentioning, if Mitt himself had thought fast enough and used it as his defence, from the beginning. But he hadn't. Nor can he push that argument very hard, either, since, at the time (or maybe during his presidential campaign; can't remember), he said that the Mass system *ought to* serve as the template for the entire country. That is, a State system could, and should, serve as a model for the Fed.

  • urban legend on May 06, 2011 7:16 PM:

    Secular Animist, it is simply false that the bill requires anyone to purchase coverage from for-profit insurance companies. Whether or not they would function in a similar manner with similar effect on industry pricing compared to the public option -- and I agree the answer to that is most likely "no" -- the fact is that there are non-profit options built into the bill.