OTR Interviews

DeMint: Obama's Still 'Not Serious' About Fiscal Responsibility

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," April 13, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Our next guest is telling his fellow Republicans to get more aggressive. Earlier today, Senator Jim DeMint went "On the Record."


VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, nice to see you, sir.

SEN. JIM DEMINT, R-S.C.: Greta, it's good to be back.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, the big vote is this week on the 2011 fiscal year budget. Yes or no for you?



DEMINT: We've got a huge problem, Greta. This is a small turn. At least it's turning around and heading the other way. But a lot of the cuts aren't real. And I just want to send a signal back home to folks in South Carolina and across the country, we've got to be a lot more serious than this. I think Boehner's probably done about as good as he could do, given the president's position and Harry Reid. I mean, Boehner only controls the House. But this is not enough. It's not good enough to solve a problem.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, it's about $38.5 billion, as I understand it, for the fiscal year 2011 that they're talking about. Here's the thing I'm sort of curious about. I actually thought it was a big number until Senator John Thune said on the floor is that every 12-hour period, we add $2 billion to the debt. So suddenly, that $38 billion's sort of dwarfed for me, if every 12 hours we add $2 billion to the debt.

DEMINT: That's on a good day. I mean, in February, which is a short month, we borrowed over $230 billion in one month. March was probably worse than that when we get the final results. So we're borrowing on a good day, $4 billion every day. And the real cuts that we're talking about out of this big shutdown threat last week are probably $15 billion to $20 billion. It's about what we borrow every week or 10 days.

VAN SUSTEREN: So -- so what's going to -- I mean, what's the deal? I mean, if -- are we just being sort of had with the budget cuts? Is anybody really serious about getting the economy in order? I mean, the House and the Senate and the president are supposed to be the stewards of the federal budget and the federal government, and the numbers don't look -- the numbers don't look like...

DEMINT: Well, that's why...


VAN SUSTEREN: ... ahead of the game.

DEMINT: You see there's a growing divide between the parties, and folks who want us to get along need to realize...

VAN SUSTEREN: But even within your party. You've got Republicans who are voting for this deal!

DEMINT: We have, but I think Republicans are pushing the discipline we need to stop it, a balanced budget amendment, which I've been pushing over here, spending caps that we can't get out of. The president's not talking about those kind of things. Unless Congress has a requirement to balance its budget, we're going to continue to kick down the -- the can down the road, just like the president did today.

He didn't come up with any solutions to cut spending. He's going to assign it to Biden next month, and then maybe June, we'll get another report. He did that with the debt commission and then ignored findings. We've got a real problem. I don't think the Democrats can join us because their whole political power base comes from making promises of more government spending and solutions. They can't join us, so Republicans have to be more aggressive.

VAN SUSTEREN: So what's the solution? We can't have the government shut down. And I don't think people want to hurt people who are very vulnerable. I mean, there are a lot of people in this country are very vulnerable and need help. So who picks up the tab on this? How do we -- how do we solve this problem being equitable, fair, and being smart and efficient and not hurting people?

DEMINT: Well, those are the right questions to ask because there is a safety net role I think the federal government can play along with states. But in order to keep those priorities and keep the promises we made to seniors and veterans, we can't do everything else. We can't fund government broadcasting. We can't fund abortions with taxpayer money...

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, how about the -- how about the fraud and waste, though? I mean, with the single -- I mean, congressman out of Florida, freshman congressman out of Florida came in here January, became a congressman, and within short order, he got a unanimous bill passed, both sides, Democrats, Republicans, stripped away, $30 million dollars, not a lot, but -- from the Pentagon budget, $30 million dollars away from the -- from the government just in waste.

DEMINT: Well...

VAN SUSTEREN: This is one guy.

DEMINT: You know, the report -- the Government Accounting Office just last month came out with a report of, you know, hundreds of billions of dollars in waste and duplication. But are we talking about that here? We can't get it even brought up, Greta, and...

VAN SUSTEREN: Why not? I mean -- I mean, that should be the ... wasting money! ...

DEMINT: The president just demanded time on air. Did he mention the fact that we've got over $100 billion a year in duplication? He won't cut one service! If you look at the CR for the rest of the year, we're not cutting anything. We're finding earmarks that weren't going to be spent anyway and adding that to the cuts. We're not serious. The president is not serious.

And we've got to take our case to the people. The president tried to do that today. The only thing he recommended was about a trillion dollars in new taxes to the job creators in our country. He didn't recommend any specific spending cuts. So we have to hold his feet to the fire. The key thing, Greta, is to recognize 2012 may be our last chance to change this as a country. We can't keep borrowing $4 trillion -- or $4 billion every day and expect to survive.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why did the president give that speech today, before we've even figured out the 2011 -- we don't have that deal closed?

DEMINT: Well, he feels the growing pressure across the country to do something about the spending and debt. Now, he didn't do anything about it, but he wanted to show that it's a priority of his, when all year and really his first two years, I mean, he added $3.6 trillion to our debt, and he's still trying to blame the problem on George Bush. His budget, Greta, effectively doubles our debt over the next 10 years. The president is not serious about cutting spending because his whole platform is on spending more.

VAN SUSTEREN: Should the Republicans take some of the blame on this problem?

DEMINT: Oh, yes. We...


DEMINT: I think there's been a spending addiction here in Washington. And every time you talk about cutting something, it's like telling an alcoholic not to have a drink. They say, Well, one more and I'll quit tomorrow.

VAN SUSTEREN: One last question. Any way you're going to vote for that because I know you don't want that continuing resolution to pass anyway. It's not going to pass?

DEMINT: No, it'll have to pass. And I'm not going to try to stop from it passing because, effectively, with this president, we're not going to get anything right now. But when we go on to the next battle of the debt ceiling, which is there to keep us from borrowing more money, that's where we have to take our stand with a balanced budget amendment, spending caps and really fall on a sword, if we have to, to keep that debt ceiling from passing without those things first.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, nice see you, sir.

DEMINT: Good to see you, Greta.