By Matt Tomsic
Published Aug. 30, 2011
Sen. Jim DeMint touted the benefits of local chambers of commerce Tuesday morning and compared the political process to a football game, with both teams pushing toward opposite goals.
|Sen. Jim DeMint|
“The key to success in most communities,” DeMint said, “the difference is how active the business community is in creating that critical mass of political influence.”
DeMint said the chamber got him involved in the community and gave him more influence to shape Greenville and the Upstate.
“The real power that shapes our country comes from the private sector,” DeMint said. “Your ability to shape things is probably much more than you think.”
The private sector creates wealth, DeMint said, which can be used to pay for charity, the arts, health care and education.
“The folks in Washington, they understand a little bit about how wealth is traded,” he said, adding some politicians’ focus is on Wall Street instead of towns and cities.
DeMint then criticized President Barack Obama’s administration, saying not many people in the White House have signed pay checks, leased office space, hired people or done other things business leaders are required to do.
“Wealth is created when an individual takes a risk in hopes of a reward,” DeMint said. “Our economy is built by that.”
And government’s job is to minimize risk and ensure the rewards justify the risks taken by businesses.
DeMint said he tours the Palmetto State during breaks from Washington, and he meets with business leaders who are unsure of health care reform, environmental regulations and banking regulations.
He criticized the National Labor Relations Board complaint against the Boeing Co. for opening a final assembly and delivery facility to produce 787s in North Charleston. DeMint said the country should applaud Boeing instead of creating an atmosphere that could cause the aerospace company to export its operations.
DeMint said people ask him why the two parties can’t compromise.
“It’s not an issue of not wanting to work with people,” he said, adding he’s been married for 38 years and knows compromise.
While at the chamber years ago, DeMint said he didn’t know which members were Democrats and which were Republicans. The chamber had a goal and worked toward it, though some people disagreed about how to attain the goal.
The problem in Washington is the two parties are acting like two football teams, each driving to opposite goal lines. DeMint said a coach wouldn’t tell his players to go onto the field and compromise.
“The system is broken,” DeMint said.
Despite a broken political system, DeMint said, other things that make America great are still working. Businesses are still taking risks and starting new ventures.
“It’s not like the American dream is behind us, it’s right in front of us,” DeMint said.
He also addressed Charleston Harbor’s deepening project, which received federal funding after being stalled by Obama’s budget and a self-imposed earmarks ban, which was championed by DeMint.
DeMint said the harbor will be deepened, but the government needs to find another way to fund local projects instead of the earmarks system. DeMint introduced a bill in March to reform the way the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers funds harbor deepening projects. If enacted, the bill would establish a merit-based system for awarding federal money to local army corps projects.
After his speech, DeMint said the bill is an attempt to reform the system and to avoid earmarking money for local army corps projects. He said the bill probably wouldn’t receive action until next year.
DeMint’s bill, the “Corps of Engineers Reform Act of 2011,” was sent to the Committee on Environment and Public Works. Sen. Lindsey Graham is its only co-sponsor.