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DeMint on DI

August 17, 2009


By Michael S. Smith II, SCHotline Contributing Editor

U.S. Sen Jim DeMint (R., S.C.) was greeted by some 300 attendees during an August 17 “town hall” meeting hosted at the Daniel Island Country Club (Daniel Island/Charleston, S.C.).

The event began around 7:30 a.m.; however, due to slow traffic movement stemming from an automobile accident on I-526, Sen. DeMint did not arrive until just before 8:30.

Well-known Lowcountry Republican political donors, their elected representatives and several politically aspirant “movers and shakers” all made a good showing during today’s meeting. U.S. Congressman Henry “Republican Workhorse” Brown (R., S.C.), along with representatives of local county Republican Parties entertained participants who awaited Sen. DeMint’s arrival.

There was no shortage of video cameras or members of the press covering the goings-on that featured the man who National Journal called “the most conservative” member of the U.S. Senate.

If asked, most attendees probably would have described themselves as “conservative.” Any liberals in attendance exercised exceptional restraint throughout most of the question-and-answer session, which lasted a little more than half an hour. (As a resident of Daniel Island, I believe it’s safe to say more than half of the attendees were not Daniel Islanders.)

Sen. DeMint’s comments, most of which highlighted the details of his health care reform proposal, were well received by his audience. (I couldn’t help but spark applause for his remark regarding the need for tort reform, enthusiastically interjecting a “Hear, hear!”)

Following the senator’s brief introductory remarks, the Q&A session provided opportunities for a handful of attendees to ask Sen. DeMint questions about his health care (insurance access) reform proposal, and to prompt remarks from him regarding Obama’s health care policy prescriptions.

A Canadian émigré now living in “the U.S. of A,” who mentioned he practices medicine in nearby Mt. Pleasant, S.C., was one of the few folks who received a chance to engage the senator with a question or comment. The doctor’s remarks stirred the emotions of many in the room as he recalled his move to America was prompted by a desire to practice medicine in a more patient-friendly health care system. He then asserted ObamaCare will turn America’s health care system into something that closely resembles the Canadian model. He added that much as one finds in the Canadian system, if passed into law HR3200 will bring about reductions in benefits for “end of lifers.”

Demonstrating what some might point to as either youthful naiveté or sheer political ignorance (i.e. on election day, the elderly and retired armed services members represent the most consistently present categories of visitors to voting booths), one “young” person prompted a brief history lesson when he asked Sen. DeMint why he has not done anything to repeal the federal government’s Medicare, Medicaid or the Veterans Administration’s health care programs.

While Sen. DeMint defended the continued availabilities of Medicare and Medicaid benefits for America’s elderly and poor families — basically describing both as essential programs which stem from the “social contract”-related aspects of American values — he did submit an assertion that reforms must be made to the accessibility of Medicaid benefits, along with reforms that will discourage beneficiaries from poor-decision making when it comes to their health care services consumption habits. To illustrate why such reforms must be implemented, Sen. DeMint pointed to examples of what he regards as abuses of that program, abuses DeMint says will persist if legislators do not  implement the reforms he believes Medicaid needs.

One such example used to support DeMint’s calls for reforms in the Medicaid program was presented through the story of a pregnant woman who dropped her private health insurance because she could qualify for Medicaid benefits if she were suddenly uninsured. According to the senator, the decision was based on a perhaps not-so-ethical cost-benefit analysis on the part of the pregnant woman, one which can be surmised in the following terms:

When compared to what she would have to pay for giving birth while covered by her private insurance policy, Medicaid “benefits” significantly reduced the expenses she would directly incur during her visit to the hospital. So why not have tax-payers pick up the tab?

As the Q&A session came to a close, Terrye Seckinger (a sister of Republican S.C. State Sen. George E. “Chip” Campsen III) was handed the mike for what was to become the penultimate question of the morning. After lauding the senator for his steadfast conservatism and his opposition to concepts like ObamaCare, Mrs. Seckinger made the honored guest blush by asking if Republicans will be lucky enough to have Sen. DeMint run as a candidate for the presidency. That was a question for another day, according to the senator, who did not issue a simple “No.”

The August 17 Daniel Island health care policy debate-focused town hall meeting featured anything but an “angry mob” of “rightwing extremists.” It fully lacked any of the dramatic tensions which have arisen during other similar gatherings covered by the mainstream media in recent weeks. Frankly, it would even be safe to describe the goings-on as an exercise in “choir preaching” for Sen. DeMint.

While some may have wished for a longer Q&A session — I had a hand raised for the entire session but was not called on by the moderators — Sen. DeMint covered much ground in his effort to outline the details of his proposal while also detailing why he opposes the president’s. (That’s my hand in the foreground this photo by Post and Courier photographer Grace Beahm, link:

If you couldn’t make this town hall meeting featuring Jim DeMint, but you’re interested in the details of it, not to worry: I’m sure you’ll find footage from the meeting posted to YouTube in no time.


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One Comment leave one →
  1. August 17, 2009 6:47 PM

    Man, we’re lucky to have DeMint. The dude makes sense…

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