A Teleconference With Jim DeMint About The Ethics Bill

Technically, it was a teleconference with Jim DeMint & Tom Coburn. Coburn was on the call, but he hardly said anything and had to leave early. So, this was pretty much Jim DeMint’s show.

I got in maybe a minute late, so I believe I just caught the tail end of DeMint’s opening statement which was, essentially, that a weak, watered down ethics bill is probably going to pass the Senate by a veto-proof margin.

Here are my notes, not quotes, from the Q&A question

Q from me: The Republican leadership is allowing the ethics bill to be watered down. Is that correct?

Jim DeMint: (Hawkins’ Note: I fleshed this out a bit more in an edit) The leadership is split. Most of the leadership, Ensign, Cornyn, are against the ethics bill. But, Mitch McConnell (and Kay Bailey Hutchinson) favor the bill.

Q: Where do we go from here?

Tom Coburn: Well, we need more help from the American people. Unless people know about it, it’s tough to move ahead. This ethics bill is pure deception; it’s a sham.

Q from me: Ted Stevens hasn’t been asked to step down from his committee position. Should Republicans do that?

Jim DeMint:: No, he hasn’t been charged with anything. Until he is, the leadership shouldn’t consider suggesting that he step down. There is still the presumption of innocence.

Q: Is the leadership angry with you for fighting them on these issues despite your freshman status?

Jim DeMint: Leadership is split. Some of them support what we’re doing and some don’t, but I am not worried about it. We’re not going to make any progress trying to be Democrat light.

Q: Is the tremendous explosion of new earmarks having any part in crowding out money for infrastructure, like for the bridge in Minnesota?

Jim DeMint: Yes, it can. Matching money that the states provide for earmarks can draw money away from key areas like bridge repair. Earmarks are distributed through political priorities, not real priorities. Sometimes, the real priorities never get done.

Also, these earmarks have caused an explosion of spending. If they call you up and say you have a 50 million dollar earmark for your state in a bill, they expect you to vote for it if you want the earmark.

So, we’re not doing important things. Instead, we’re just handing out money. No one cares about the big, important things we should be doing; instead people are only interested in doling out tax dollars.

Jim DeMint: Also, everyone knows this ethics bill is a disaster, but everyone is afraid of soundbites. They don’t want to hear, “You voted against the honesty in government bill.”

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