OTR Interviews

DeMint: Why the Super Committee Won't Solve the U.S. Debt Crisis

Sen. Jim DeMint on the deadline looming over the deficit reduction panel and their chances of reaching an agreement


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," November 2, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: An alarming Tweet from Senator Jim DeMint today saying the Super Committee won't solve our debt crisis. Senator DeMint is here to tell you what provoked him to take to Twitter.

But first, Senator, you met with Mr. Howard -- Mr. Herman Cain today. Everybody's talking about him. So what do you think?

SEN. JIM DEMINT, R-S.C.: I'm impressed with Herman. He's a very genuine guy, fun to talk to, very focused, has a clear vision of where he wants to take the country. So I've met with in the last few weeks, you know, Perry, and of course, I know a lot of the other candidates. And I feel good about our field right now. So I'm not ready to play favorites, but I think our candidates are doing a good job.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, did the issue come up?


VAN SUSTEREN: It did come up? The issue?

DEMINT: Yes. Yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: How'd he -- how'd he handle it with you?

DEMINT: Well, just told me very simply it was something that came up a long time ago and that they were untrue allegations. And apparently, there were never really any charges filed. And so I don't know the facts and don't feel comfortable talking about it. And so if nothing else comes up that's credible -- and I haven't seen anything credible -- I imagine it will pass and something else will come up. So I really don't know. So I can't talk too much about it.

But I enjoyed meeting with him, I think he's very genuine, loves the country. He understands the principles that make our country great. And important to me, he knows how to run a business and knows how jobs are created. And I think that's important for Republicans to draw the contrast with Obama in the next election. And I think our top tier of candidates are much better off in that area than the president is.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, I know you're not going to endorse, but you don't exclude him from a possible endorsement, is that fair to say?

DEMINT: No, no.

VAN SUSTEREN: He's in the running.

DEMINT: Yes. I feel good about really all of our candidates right now. And I think the fact that they're so close just suggests that Americans are having a hard time making a decision.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Now what's going on with the Super Committee. You took to Twitter today. You don't think it's going to work out?

DEMINT: Well, it's frustrating that our democracy is now behind closed doors. I didn't like the debt ceiling deal in the first place and setting up this very limited committee to represent everyone in this country and doing it behind closed doors, I don't like.

And I know the top goal of the Democrats is to force Republicans to accept some tax increases. And I think that's -- it's not so much about the revenue because I think a lot of them know that if we just have a low, flat rate and some good economic policies, we'll have more revenue just from growth.

But they want to get revenue from tax increases so that they can say Republicans broke their word. So I think it's a "Read my lips" moment for Republicans. We cannot accept tax increases. Washington already wastes trillions of dollars a year. It makes no sense to take more from hard-working taxpayers and bring it to Washington.

We need to cut spending. And if the Democrats aren't willing to join us in cutting spending, I think Republicans just need to say, We'll take this to the people in 2012, and elect some people who will cut spending.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, in the House, there are some -- there's a letter that was sent, and one of the letters that included some Republicans as bipartisan, saying that one of the thing that they would agree to is tax increase. So there are some Republican members in the House that are willing to do that.

DEMINT: I think there are some who are willing to look at loopholes. And for me, I'll eliminate deductions, loopholes if we can get a low, low rate. But it needs to be budget-neutral for the primary reason this government doesn't need any more money. We're already taking in more money and wasting more money than we should.

We need to cut spending. We had some bills this week, Greta, just trying to cut small amounts from a wasteful agriculture program or an aviation program. We could not get even a majority to cut anything small.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, but (INAUDIBLE) is that -- there's different kinds of waste. There's waste where I don't think we need it type waste, you know, that we don't really need it. But there's also waste in this city where you have (INAUDIBLE) money just gets -- you know, was spent on empty office space or...


VAN SUSTEREN: ... duplicate services that -- I mean, there's really, really horrendous waste, there isn't a single person disagree with it, and we never seem to go after that!

DEMINT: The General Accounting Office puts out this huge...

VAN SUSTEREN: That one in March!


DEMINT: ... Senator Coburn worked on. And just lots of waste.

VAN SUSTEREN: But was anything done with that?

DEMINT: You can put these things on the floor for a vote and you can't get a majority!

VAN SUSTEREN: How can you not get people to vote on things that are just simply, like -- it's basically, like, should we put this billion dollars in the toilet?

DEMINT: Well, this is why we can't compromise with the Democrats. And some people don't like to hear it. The Democrats depend on dependent people, and particularly government workers. And any cut in a government program, no matter how wasteful it is or ineffective...

VAN SUSTEREN: But some of it isn't even -- some of it isn't even jobs! It's just, like, empty office space!

DEMINT: Well, we do have billions of dollars of empty federal buildings that we need to sell.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, Donald Trump could probably buy some if you had the right price.

DEMINT: He would. But to get the Democrats to cut spending is just against the culture in their party right now. And we have to recognize that as Republicans. That's why 2012 is so important. We can't work with this party anymore. They're controlled by unions. They're trying to expand government workers, union workers. And I'd love to say we can work and cooperate together. But they're going to run this country into bankruptcy unless we change things.

VAN SUSTEREN: I can understand -- I mean, the -- you know, those who don't want to cut services, that maybe the Republicans want to cut, but I just simply don't understand those parts of the GAO report that is just flat-out waste...

DEMINT: Well, Republicans...

VAN SUSTEREN: ... that doesn't generate anything for anybody!

DEMINT: Well, we don't want to cut services.

VAN SUSTEREN: No, no, no! But I mean...


VAN SUSTEREN: But I mean, suppose that you might, like, think we should restrict eligibility for some social service or something.

DEMINT: Right.

VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, if you think that that -- we shouldn't do it, for whatever reason, and the Democrats fight you on that, I understand that fight. What I don't understand is that where thee's just simply flat-out waste!


VAN SUSTEREN: That's what...


DEMINT: I don't either. You've got empty federal buildings, but I can guarantee you we could not get the Democrats to agree to sell it because those buildings are being maintained by government workers, and they're not going to go there. They want -- the president's jobs plan is propping up government jobs at the state level right now. And it really...

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, maybe -- maybe get some to Trump and maybe he'll hire them to do work on the buildings or something. Cut a deal. I don't know. He's...

DEMINT: Well, what...


VAN SUSTEREN: He said he's looking for good deals!

DEMINT: Well, Trump has been in business. He understands how things work and how irrational government is. But Greta, our country's in trouble! We've got so much debt, and the -- whether it's the super- committee or the Congress as a whole, we spent more this year than we did last year. The bills we're passing now, we'll spend more next year. We're not cutting spending. We're not cutting our debt. We need one more election to turn things around.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, nice see you.

DEMINT: Thank you, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you for coming tonight, sir.