The president of the Heritage Foundation and a former senator from South Carolina told an audience at Thursday’s session of the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) that conservatives should know, despite their wins in November, there are no permanent victories in Washington.
“Let’s always remember and warn everyone who will listen that Washington is extremely good at lowering expectations,” he said. “All the the guardians of the swamp are already whispering in the ears of Republicans in Congress and the White House telling them not keep their promises.”
Repealing Obamacare is one of the prime promises that Republicans must keep, he said.
“Every Republican in the House and Senate voted for a repeal bill in 2015 and they should send that same bill to President Trump now,” he said.
In December 2015, Congress passed a repeal bill that President Barack Obama vetoed that was largely written by Rep. Tom Price (R.-Ga.), who is now leading the Department of Health and Human Services.
Like the 2015 bill, Congress initiated the repeal process in the last week of January through the budget process, while Democrats and many Republicans trying to slow down the repeal until a replacement was in place.
The former senator told the crowd he is not obsessed with having a replacement. “”This excuse we’re hearing that we can’t repeal Obamacare until we replace it is ludicrous.”
Before the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, DeMint said the American health care system was the best in the world–a system blighted by Obamacare.
“Obamacare has become a cancer on our healthcare system,” he said.
“We don’t need to replace our healthcare system, we must remove the cancer,” he said. “Once Obamacare has been removed, we will still have our doctors, nurses, hospitals, insurance companies, Medicaid and Medicare plans and veterans hospitals. No one loses their insurance, and once we get rid of Obamacare can we begin to improve our healthcare system, so it works for every American. Obamacare must be repealed now!”
DeMint was a firebrand during his tenure in the Senate, who challenged protocols when he started the Senate Conservatives Fund in 2008 to support conservatives in Republican primaries, even when they were taking on his colleagues.
In 2010, when Sen. Rand Paul (R.-Ky.) and Sen. Mike Lee (R.-Utah) were elected to the upper chamber, the South Carolinian quickly became their mentor and coach during that session of Congress. After DeMint left for Heritage, Paul and Lee were joined by Sen. Ted Cruz (R.-Texas), elected in 2012, and the three men functioned as the troika that formed the conservative center of gravity on Capitol Hill. It was the first time since the 1970s that Senate conservatives led House conservatives at the Capitol.
Heritage, itself, was established in 1973 as part of the conservative movement’s attempt to wrestle the Republican Party from establishment leaders and office holders, who preferred to cooperate with the Democrats and accepted a liberal hegemony that dominated American politics between President Lyndon Johnson’s 1964 defeat of Sen. Barry Goldwater and the election of President Ronald Reagan in 1980.
“Barry Goldwater dreamed an impossible dream by running a Presidential campaign on conservative ideas,” he said. He lost, but his willingness to fight for the right ideas paved the way for Ronald Reagan to eventually win the presidency on the same conservative ideas.
“He lost, but his willingness to fight for the right ideas paved the way for Ronald Reagan to eventually win the presidency on the same conservative ideas,” he said.
Like Goldwater, candidate Donald Trump and his campaign were dismissed as absurd, he said. “All the experts and pollsters said that Donald Trump’s quest for the presidency was an impossible dream. But in America, nothing is impossible!”
With Trump in the White House and the GOP in control of Congress, conservatives must seize the moment, DeMint said.
“We cannot allow the left, the media and squeamish Republicans to tell us that policies that will make life better for every American are impossible,” he said.
“I know what the lobbyists, consultants and pollsters are saying: they are saying that Republicans should not overreach, that politics is the art of the possible,” he said.”What they mean is that politics is the protector of the status quo. Don’t rock the boat. Find the easiest road and take it.”
Of course, this was not the course DeMint wants to take: “Let’s all give Congress a big kick in the seat of their pants, tell them to get to work and keep their promises. Let’s keep dreaming impossible dreams, because in America everything is possible.”