Jim DeMint on Welfare & Poverty

Republican Jr Senator; previously Representative (SC-4)


Too many Americans are dependent on federal government

Too many Americans are dependent on the federal government for this jobs, income, health care, housing, food, and education. The Democrats have always known that a dependent voter is a dependable vote. Democracies become dysfunctional when too many voters expect more from government than it can dole out by taking from those who are actually producing wealth.

Dependency and the redistribution of wealth is precisely what got us into our current financial mess, and America is now close to the tipping point where more voters are receiving something from government than paying for government. Unfortunately, those who want more from government are better motivated and organized than those who actually pay for government, would like to keep more of the fruit of their labor, and want to live independently in what is supposed to be a free country

Source: Now Or Never, by Sen. Jim DeMint, p. 27-28 , Jan 10, 2012

Partner with churches to assist the poor

Instead of alleviating poverty, welfare simply institutionalizes it. These programs are meant to help the poor but have trapped many people into a life of single-parenthood--which often results in more poverty.

As with Medicaid and other federal programs, the problems with welfare and public assistance could also be solved by giving such responsibilities back to the states. In my book "The Great American Awakening," I proposed that we "phase out federal welfare programs, and give block grants to states to partner with churches and charitable groups to assist the poor. Use federal block grants to assist states in setting up safety net programs to provide support for poor and disabled citizens."

Source: Now Or Never, by Sen. Jim DeMint, p. 30 , Jan 10, 2012

Volunteerism provides vision & backbone for community

If there is a stereotypical American family, we were it. I ran a small business & volunteered in my church. My wife stayed home with our 4 children, served on the school board, and tried to manage the chaos. We had a modest income and lived in a middle- class neighborhood.

Like most other business owners, I served as a volunteer for many charitable organizations. Civic responsibility and Christian duty compelled me and an army of volunteers to help those in need. It was hardly sacrificial or drudgery. There were no lines between business activity, social events, and volunteerism.

I saw how volunteerism provided the vision and backbone for our community. I also saw how many of the problems we faced as a community were the result of a well-intentioned but misguided government policies. No government program was ever as effective as a determined volunteer effort. It was impossible, however, to keep the unintended consequences of government from diminishing the good we were trying to accomplish.

Source: Saving Freedom, by Jim DeMint, p. 15-16 , Jul 4, 2009

Nothing in Congressional duty requires helping the poor

Every member of the House has to stand in the House chamber, raise his right hand, and recite the oath of office at the beginning of each new Congress:

"I, Jim DeMint, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God."

There is nothing in this oath about representing my district and state or helping the poor and downtrodden. There was nothing about responding to the woes of the American people. There was no list of duties because everything we were supposed to do in Congress was written in the Constitution. All federal officers & members of the armed services all take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution. It must have been really important at one time.

Source: Saving Freedom, by Jim DeMint, p. 87-88 , Jul 4, 2009

Government redistribution destroys voluntary charity

Nations that keep their focus on defense and the development of individual citizens will thrive. Conversely, nations that use government as an instrument to redistribute wealth cultivate their own economic and moral destruction.

I am not making a case against charity and compassion. Quite the opposite, government redistribution of wealth actually destroys the positive impulses and outcomes of voluntary charity. Instead of every American sharing some responsibility to help those less fortunate, that responsibility is shifted to only the richest citizens who are vilified for their success. Instead of gratitude, the beneficiaries of government charity develop a sense of entitlement. They come to believe they have a right to government beneficence, instead of a responsibility to work for their own sustenance.

Despite the trillions of dollars "redistributed" by government since the inception of welfare programs, there are more poor Americans than ever before.

Source: Saving Freedom, by Jim DeMint, p.181 , Jul 4, 2009

Encourage voluntary charity via business, church & community

Federal, state, and local taxes can encourage individual and local assistance to the poor by not taxing money spent to assist the poor. Under the current tax system, this is often accomplished through tax deductions, the elimination of state sales tax fo charitable expenditures, and local property tax waivers.

In this case the government is not attempting to control the outcome but to encourage constructive behavior by lowering the cost of voluntary activities that benefit society as a whole. The people are free to decide what activities work best. I have seen this approach work, resulting in many local partnerships between business groups, churches, community groups, hospitals, and local governments. This is a "freedom solution."

Government should encourage all kinds of constructive voluntary behaviors and organizations throughout society and ensure that safety nets are in place for those who cannot help themselves and are not helped by voluntary efforts.

Source: Saving Freedom, by Jim DeMint, p.185-186 , Jul 4, 2009

Welfare programs deteriorate family structure

Poverty programs are a significant part of the dependency problem. America's welfare programs, primarily targeted at poor children of unwed mothers, have encouraged a deterioration of the family structure and contributed to millions of Americans becoming chronically dependent on the government.

Dependency-based social programs always expand and attract more people into dependency. People learn how to beat the system. They learn how long they have to work before they can quit and collect unemployment insurance. They learn how to get signatures from employers to prove they are trying to get another job. Then they go back to work long enough to start the cycle over again.

Seniors are the largest new group of government dependents. Even wealthy seniors get a Social Security check whether they need it or not.

Source: Saving Freedom, by Jim DeMint, p.205-206 , Jul 4, 2009

Voted NO on instituting National Service as a new social invention.

Congressional Summary:Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education (GIVE) Act:
    Adds to National and Community Service Act of 1990 (NCSA) purposes:
  1. providing year-round opportunities in service-learning;
  2. involving program participants in emergency and disaster preparedness, relief, and recovery;
  3. increasing service opportunities for retiring professionals;
  4. encouraging service by individuals age 55 or older and continued service by national service alumni;
  5. focusing national service on the areas of national need.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Sen. BARBARA MIKULSKI (D, MD): [In developing national service over many years] we were not in the business of creating another new social program. What we were in the business of was creating a new social invention. What do I mean by that? In our country, we are known for our technological inventions. But also often overlooked, and sometimes undervalued, is our social inventions.

We created national service to let young people find opportunity to be of service and also to make an important contribution. But not all was rosy. In 2003, when I was the ranking member on the appropriations subcommittee funding national service, they created a debacle. One of their most colossal errors was that they enrolled over 20,000 volunteers and could not afford to pay for it. That is how sloppy they were in their accounting. I called them the "Enron of nonprofits."

And they worked on it. But all that is history. We are going to expand AmeriCorps activity into specialized corps. One, an education corps; another, a health futures corps; another, a veterans corps; and another called opportunity corps. These are not outside of AmeriCorps. They will be subsets because we find this is where compelling human need is and at the same time offers great opportunity for volunteers to do it.

Opponent's argument to vote No:No senators spoke against the amendment.

Reference: Serve America Act/GIVE Act; Bill H.R. 1388 ; vote number 2009-S115 on Mar 26, 2009

Voted YES on promoting work and marriage among TANF recipients.

Welfare Reauthorization Bill: Vote to pass a bill that would approve $16.5 billion to renew the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families block grant program through fiscal 2008 and call for new welfare aid conditions. The bill raises the work requirements for individuals getting assistance from 30 to 40 hours per week. States would be required to increase the number of recipient families working from the current level of 50 percent to 70 percent or more in 2008. The bill also provides an additional $1 billion in mandatory state child care grants and provides $200 million annually for marriage promotion programs.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Pryce, R-OH; Bill HR 4 ; vote number 2003-30 on Feb 13, 2003

Voted YES on treating religious organizations equally for tax breaks.

Vote to pass a bill that would allow religious organizations to compete equally with other non-governmental groups for federal funds to provide social service, and provide $13.3 billion in tax breaks for charitable giving over 10 years.
Bill HR 7 ; vote number 2001-254 on Jul 19, 2001

Voted NO on responsible fatherhood via faith-based organizations.

Vote to establish a program that would promote more responsible fatherhood by creating educational, economic and employment opportunities and give grants to state agencies and nonprofit groups, including faith-based institutions.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Johnson, R-CT.; Bill HR 3073 ; vote number 1999-586 on Nov 10, 1999

Other candidates on Welfare & Poverty: Jim DeMint on other issues:
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