Sen. DeMint Calls Out Obama's Lack of Leadership in Debt Negotiations

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," July 26, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And there's breaking news on the debt ceiling battle in Washington. Tonight, House Republicans will delay a vote on Speaker Boehner's $2.5 trillion debt reduction proposal until Thursday. Now this news comes after the Congressional Budget Office revealed that Boehner's plan fails to reach the intended 1.2 trillion in cuts that were promised.

Now meanwhile tonight, reaction to President Barack Obama's bizarre primetime address to the nation continues to pour in. And to put it bluntly, the reviews have been anything but positive.

Now here's Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, R-KY., SENATE MINORITY LEADER: I know the president would rather give speeches about our problems than resolve them. But he wasn't elected to talk about the United States. He was elected to lead it.

Americans are waiting for the president to do what they elected him to do. Not to lecture, but to lead.


HANNITY: Now, Republicans in the House also expressed outrage today over the partisan nature of the president's speech.


JEB HENSARLING, R-TEXAS, HOUSE GOP CONFERENCE CHAIRMAN: The president's speech last night, I believe was historic. I do not recall the last time a president of the United States used a nationally televised address, not to tell the American people what he was for, but to tell the American people what he was against. Seven days out from his August 2nd deadline, there is still no plan to deal with the debt crisis from the president.


HANNITY: Now, things have gotten so bad for this White House that even some of the president's fans in the mainstream Obama-mania media are calling him out on his lack of leadership.


CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: Why not just release that plan.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It is not a plan. It was details of the plan but it wasn't a plan the same way that we are getting a plan on the House side and we're getting a plan on the Senate.

TODD: We don't know what the Medicare thing is, we don't know what the Social Security part of this is. There wasn't.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We talked in great detail about what is in Medicare and you know it.

TODD: Why not put it out there though?


HANNITY: Now if you ask me, I think those are some pretty fair questions. Joining me with the very latest on the debt battle is the author of "The Great American Awakening, Two Years That Changed America, Washington and Me," South Carolina Republican Senator Jim DeMint. Senator, welcome back, sir.

SEN. JIM DEMINT, R-S.C.: Thank you, Sean. It's good to be back with you.

HANNITY: All right. You know, before we get to -- I'm getting a little angry here. Because before we get to the competing Republican plans, and there are numerous ones. There's been numerous votes in the House. The Senate won't take up a lot of the deals. We've got to find out, how did we get here? No president has spent or created deficits as large as this one. That's issue number one. The president can't lead. He seems arrogant, angry, petulant even. Has not presented the American people a plan. And he just goes out and attacks, uses class warfare. This in many ways is unprecedented. And I wanted your thoughts on, you know, his leadership style or lack thereof.

DEMINT: Well, Sean, it is very frustrating to work with someone who never puts their position out. I mean, he talks about things but he doesn't put anything in writing. So, his position is constantly fluctuating. You know, he set this debt limit. We didn't. He spent the money that pushes us past the debt limit. He wants to blame Republicans for the economy. But his policies have made it worse. He wants a showdown. He has pushed this thing up against the deadline. Republicans have given him the increase in the debt limit he wanted. All we're asking is that we put the country on a path towards a balanced budget. But he says that's extreme. It is almost impossible to deal with him because we're willing to deal -- I mean to negotiate how much we cut, what kind of caps we have over the next 10 years, what the balanced budget looks like, we're willing to give him an increase in his debt limit. But the president won't work with us. He just gives speeches. And we can't vote on a speech.

HANNITY: You know, this is very important I think for the American people to understand in terms of what's going on here, and you know, when 64 percent of the American public supports "Cut, Cap and Balance" and 75 percent want a balanced budget amendment, he's losing the debate. And I think it is important that we put the proper point in perspective on this. He got his budgets passed. Those are his budgets. He got his stimulus plan. He got his Obamacare deal, changed the rules, bribed senators or the moral equivalent thereof. He got us $4 trillion in debt in under three years. So, I guess, at this point in time, you would think he would come up with a plan on his own. Is there a plan that you know that he's advocating?

DEMINT: No, I don't. And there's only one plan that actually is in legislative language that has been passed by the House that will meet the criteria of Standard & Poor's and Moody's so that we won't lose our AAA rating. And that's Cut, Cap and Balance plan. And it is common sense. Americans would support it and understand it. But the fact that the president Sean, is not even willing to consider balancing our budget over the next 10 years is somewhat frightening to me. And we know he's not serious about the debt, because his budget raises the debt another $10 trillion. So, for him to come back and now say, well, we can cut it one or two trillion, al that means is we'll add eight or nine trillion to our debt rather than 10.

This is not acceptable. I think we are at a point Sean, as you and I have talked about, where political solutions are not going to work. We need real solutions to cut our debt and the only way to do that is move towards a balanced budget.

HANNITY: Yes. He asked for this job. He campaigned for this job. He made promises that he has yet to fulfill as it relates to this job. Specifically, when he was using scare tactics last night and class warfare and wouldn't offer a solution himself and was blaming everybody but himself, what does that tell us about this president?

DEMINT: Well, it seems very immature. It certainly not like leaders we've had in the past, Democrat or Republican, who will state a position, try to persuade Americans his way. He is just trying to cast blame here. I mean, he knows his policies have made our economy much, much worse. And he needs desperately to blame the Republicans on this. So, he won't put a plan out, because if he does, even the Democrats won't vote for it, as we saw with his budget. So he's not going to lead. And we are not seeing any leadership from the Senate, the Democrats in the Senate. The only leadership we've seen has come out of the House. And Speaker Boehner led the way on Cut, Cap and Balance. He's trying to offer an alternative. I don't support it. But at least he's out there trying to offer solutions.

HANNITY: Yes. Well, and that's what I want to ask you here. And we are going to talk to Saxby Chambliss and Tom Coburn later in the program. I was unhappy that the Senate gave the president an alternative, the "Gang of Six" and the McConnell plan here.

DEMINT: Right.

HANNITY: But you are right. None of the Republicans voted for his stimulus, his budgets or his health care bill. And now they've come out with, they voted for the Ryan plan they passed it. They voted for "Cut, Cap and Balance," they passed it. Speaker Boehner has a plan. The White House has said today that they will veto it. And Harry Reid said, it is dead on arrival.

So, at this point, is there anything left on the table that they can do? Because it seems that I would just lay it on the president's doorstep and say fine, we passed three bills, it is up to you now. We only control one House here.

DEMINT: Well, Mitch McConnell and the Senate and Speaker Boehner in the House, they are trying to put something out there, because they don't want to go past August the 2nd. I think Speaker Boehner tonight is working on some revisions of his plan to try to get enough Republicans to pass it.

I frankly think we need to insist on "Cut, Cap and Balance." We can negotiate various aspects of it. But if the Democrats are not even willing to have an open debate about any plan -- and that's been my frustration, I don't want any more games or behind closed doors meetings. It is time to bring this to the public Sean, so they can see what the Democrats are for and what the Republicans are for. And I think they will see us ready to compromise. But not willing to give away our country.

HANNITY: All right. Last question. You were attacked by Haley Barbour today. He said our people have to understand that we can't let the perfect be the enemy of good. He said in politics, purity is a dog loser. We can't go out with the idea that we are going to be pure or we are going to do nothing basically talking pretty much about you. The headline is Haley Barbour criticizes DeMint for not supporting Boehner. Your reaction?

DEMINT: Well, I'm getting a lot of criticism and I expect it. But this is not about purity Sean, nowhere close to purity. Because if I had my way, we would be balancing our budget in the next five years and I think we need to. But I'm willing to work with the president, the Democrats, moderate Republicans. But if we don't put our country on a path towards a balanced budget, we are putting it on a path towards bankruptcy. That's the only two choices we are facing right now. So, I'm not willing to support any plan that doesn't realize that we need to move towards that balanced budget.

HANNITY: Where is the leadership in the White House? It doesn't exist.

Senator, it's always good to see you. Thank you for being with us.

DEMINT: Thank you, Sean.

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