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GOP

Millennials Championing Socialism

Should the GOP be careful to put the joking aside and take Beto seriously? Do Republicans have an even greater uphill battle when the media constitutes what's a scandal dependent on the political party? What material steps has Trump taken to “drain the swamp?” Policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation, John York joins Dan and Amy to discuss.

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Fear Mongering Vs. Reality

Is school choice on top of the ballot to even the playing field in any states? Can people differentiate between opinion host Sean Hannity and the “journalist” in Michigan bad mouthing GOP Senate candidate John James before she hung up the phone? If Republicans are just “fear mongering” about the caravan then why are Democrats running from the issue? Fox News contributor, Juan Williams joins Dan and Amy to discuss.

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“Credibly Accused” Nonsense

What does Kavanaugh’s freshman roommate have to say about him and his drinking? Will Senators vote based on feelings or the facts and evidence? Did Kavanaugh’s testimony full of righteous anger ensure his nomination? Did the Democrats help unite the Republican Party?  Co-Founder of TheFederalist.com, Sean Davis joins Dan and Amy to discuss.

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GOP Senators Finally Fight Back

Does this moment change our politics for the foreseeable future or will it fade in a week? Does the GOP establishment--Kavanaugh included--get it now? Do they get what they're up against? Or do they want to continue to get suckered by the Left's bipartisanship Siren song? National Review columnist and Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Victor Davis Hanson joins Dan and Amy to discuss.

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Sen. Donnelly Another Puppet For Schumer

How's the Indiana GOP nominee for Senate fairing on the trail? Is this race a referendum on Trump or Joe Donnelly’s record? How has Trump’s trade policy affected Hoosier businesses? Mike Braun is currently leading in the polls, but how will he win over the undecideds? U.S. Senate candidate from Indiana, Mike Braun joins Dan and Amy to discuss. 

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Is The GOP Officially The Party Of Trump?

With the defeat of Trump critic and GOP Congressman from South Carolina, Mark Sanford, the victory of Corey Stewart for the GOP Senate nominee in Virginia, and the problems Mitt Romney is having in Utah, is the GOP officially the Party of Trump? Does the party no longer stand for ideas, but for Trump alone? Does Trump make current GOP legislators’ jobs harder? Senior Political Columnist for Washington Examiner, Tim Carney joins Dan and Amy to discuss.

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Win For Cocaine Mitch And Loss For Swamp Creatures

In two states that present Senate GOP pick-up opportunities, Cocaine Mitch, his China family and the China people were too much for Don Blankenship in West Virginia and anti-incumbent mood within the GOP knocks out two Congressmen in Indiana. Senior Political Correspondent for the Washington Examiner, David Drucker joins Dan and Amy to discuss.

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Division In The GOP Over Tariffs

Are Trump’s proposed tariffs going to put speed bumps on economic growth? Is Jeff Sessions going to pay a visit to Chicago and address Tiny Dancer and Governor Rauner on their sanctuary state/city policies? Is the left going to cling to their anti gun agenda to win over voters in the upcoming elections? Representative from the 6th Congressional District, Peter Roskam joins Dan and Amy to discuss.

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Roy Moore Lost Because Of Roy Moore

The Republican Party base showed up in Alabama, but what about the Mitt Romney and Marco Rubio Republicans? Even if voters detested Moore, did they cast a vote for Moore to protest the media? Is Trump’s declining popularity to blame? What was the effect of the 23,000 write in votes? Is Moore ever going to give a concession speech? Morning host for News/Talk 770 WVNN in Huntsville, Alabama, Dale Jackson joins Dan and Amy to discuss.

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ATC W/ Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)

On this edition of Against The Current, Sen. Ted Cruz sits down with Dan Proft to discuss the lessons he took away from his POTUS run, his assessment of President Trump's performance eight months in, the four policy priorities he identifies for the GOP-controlled Congress and whether free market conservatism is still where the center of gravity exists within the party. Cruz doesn't just take the positions. He makes the arguments. And he does so on this special installment of Against The Current.

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FNC's Ed Henry: Expect GOP Pushback On Obamacare Replacement

Fox News Chief National Correspondent Ed Henry previewed the latest WikiLeaks document dump expected later today, as well as the prospects for GOP unity on the proposed Obamacare replacement, as outlined in today's Wall Street Journal by House Ways & Means Chairman Kevin Brady.

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Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint on How To Build A Conservative Movement

On this week's Against The Current, former U.S. Senator and current President of the Heritage Foundation, Jim DeMint sits down with Dan Proft to discuss the state of the conservative movement in America and what it means to be a GOP member of Congress not liked by the GOP congressional leaders.

DeMint also lays out Heritage's blueprint for a balanced budget in 2017 and explains why it is so important to take a stand on moral and cultural matters in addition to fiscal ones.

A provocative, wide-ranging discussion with the genteel but steadfastly conservative Jim DeMint on this edition of ATC.

View full transcript


Dan Proft: Thank you for joining us on another edition of Against the Current; coming to you from the Skyline Club, on top of the Old Republic building in downtown Chicago. We’re pleased to have as this week’s guest former United States Senator and current President of the Heritage Foundation, Jim DeMint. Jim, thanks so much for joining us, appreciate it. Jim DeMint: Dan, it’s great to be with you. Dan Proft: Yeah, we’re happy to have you in Chicago. Jim DeMint: I can’t believe it’s 65 degrees in Chicago today. Dan Proft: We appreciate it. Maybe it’s a little bit of a welcoming. Jim DeMint: Maybe so. Dan Proft: We certainly need more discussion of free minds and free markets in Chicago, you may have heard, and I know you were having that very discussion at the Conservative Political Action Conference recently, CPAC, you went there, and your talk was about the future of the conservative movement, as in how do we generate a sustaining one. Answer the question that I posed and you posed to yourself at CPAC. How do we develop a sustaining conservative movement? Jim DeMint: First, we have to realize it is about ideas. Conservatism is about preserving or conserving those ideas that make America exceptional; the values, the principles; so it’s not about the personalities, or even ultimately about specific policies, but how do we conserve for the future of those things that made this country so exceptional. So build the conservative movement on the ideas and principles; certainly, we need good people carrying those messages, we need policies, and messages that the public understands, but pulling together people from all across America who want to move forward with the right ideas, that’s what we need to build the conservative movement on. Dan Proft: Do you think that in DC and perhaps even across the Fruited Plains there’s been a little bit of the bastardization of the term conservative, where it is no longer about the enduring principles upon which the country was founded, upon which Western civilization was founded, than in policies that are relevant, consistent with those principles in the modern context, and now it’s kind of conservative is where people are supposed to be; so I’m a fiscal conservative, I’m a social something else. Conservative means this and it means that, and it’s become a word that has been demeaned into unmeaning. Jim DeMint: The labels are not helpful in politics really, whether it’s liberal or progressive or conservative, or moderate; I think people have so many different definitions; it doesn’t really help to use the term. I think what we have to do is talk about what it is we want for this country. Do we really believe in founding principles that are permanent? And there is a reason to believe that America is unique among all the nations in history, why we’ve become so prosperous, so strong as a people, how can we have such a diverse population, yet still have unity? Now I know they’re a lot of forces dividing America today, but the fact that we’re the most diverse nation on Earth, yet we have a unity of shared purpose, shared values, things that are different, volunteerism, hard work, the idea of self-reliance, there is a strong belief in family in America, even though we had a breakdown in family; there are a lot of beliefs that make this country exceptional, and we want to preserve those for the next generation, so the next generation can be even more successful. Dan Proft: So let me run another dichotomy of labels by you, that has become kind of the dominant conversation in the context of the presidential campaign, but it’s not about electoral politics, it’s about this establishment versus the non-establishment; in fact, Mike Murphy who [fluttered? 00:03:56] away 100 million dollars or so running the superpack for Jeb Bush, he said recently that that anti-establishment is the new establishment. Jim DeMint: Yes. Dan Proft: It gets kind of confusing to follow what establishment means, does it really exist, what’s anti-establishment, is anti-establishment the new establishment? Do these terms mean anything? Jim DeMint: They do to me. There really is an establishment in Washington made up of entrenched politicians and bureaucrat media, lobbyists, people who benefit from the growth of government, they benefit from the status quo, and they try to take you apart if you try to change that status quo. I know because I did, and they villainize you. I know, for instance, Ted Cruz, aside from the presidential race, he has been treated like a villain – no one likes him, as if no one likes you in Washington, that’s a good sign, because if they like you, you’re probably part of the problem. Unfortunately, the way this establishment is set up is, once you’re elected to the House or the Senate, and I’ve been in both of them, you eventually have to go along with the system, keep voting for more spending every year, earmarks or whatever they’ve got on the table, or you fight the system; and if you fight the system, you find it’s bigger than you are, and unless you have millions of Americans standing with you, the system’s just going to cut you up. Dan Proft: What was it like, if you can go back to your previous life as a United States Senator, when you were in the system, you also had it up to Senate Conservative Fund, so you were supporting Conservative traditionalist originalist baron Scalia-ism candidates for the US Senate, sometimes at odds with the Republican leadership in the Senate, or even generally inside the belt-way, and so what was that like? Jim DeMint: I wasn’t very popular, and I was lectured to a lot, and as a matter of fact, I use a quote a lot, one of the lunches with all the Republican senators, after I’d endorsed Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania against Arlen Specter, who was still there, and the party… Dan Proft: Before he became a Democrat. Jim DeMint: And the party had endorsed a Charlie Crist in Florida, before he became a Democrat against Marco Rubio, who I was supporting, and one of our big senior leaders got up and wagged his finger at me and he said, ‘DeMint, you don’t know how Washington works; it’s not about the principles, it’s about the numbers; we need to get to 60 votes’, and I just stood up and said ‘We’ll have the numbers when we have the principles’, and I believe that, I don’t think Republicans, or any party, is going to continue to win and grow unless it’s about more than just politics Dan Proft: It seems to me that’s the question that doesn’t get asked, implicit of what you’re describing is “Okay, we need the numbers, I got that. Is anybody asking the question or contemplating the answer to the question ‘What do we win when we win?’” Jim DeMint: Yeah, what do we want to do with the numbers? And my experience has been, when we had the numbers, the majority in the House and the Senate, George Bush and the White House, we didn’t do anything that I was very proud of. We kept spending money, blowing the budget up, and we expanded the government into education, with No Child Left Behind, we expanded the healthcare and the Medicare Part. D, when Medicare was already going bankrupt. Nothing that we campaigned on as Republicans did we do, and so I realized that we’re not going to solve the problems with the same people who created them, and that’s why I was out there with Senate Conservative Fund just trying to find a common sense – Conservatives who would come in and help fight the system, and we did bring in some new people; we got a ban on earmarks; now they’re still figuring ways to get around it, but we started a process there with some young bright new Conservatives, and ironically, it was what Republicans said they wanted; they wanted big tent, more diverse people; now we’ve got an African American Republican from South Carolina, we’ve got a couple of Cuban Americans, we’ve got younger people in the party, but all of them were posed by the party in their primaries; so I’m going to help Republicans whether they like it or not, by infusing Conservative ideas, but trying to help Conservatives learn to speak in more winsome terms, and not even using that label. If you’re in Illinois, you don’t need to be talking about being Conservative. You need to talk about how we’re going to make life better for people; get better jobs for people; what are the policies that are going to actually help kids get a better education and get out of failing schools? Let’s talk about the benefits, and then by the way, that’s a Conservative idea, we can get to that later, but the labels really get in the way as you travel around the country. Dan Proft: So how do you strike the balance? I suppose maybe you’ve said it, it’s principle strike the balance between ‘Yeah, it is a numbers game; you need majorities and sometimes even across the aisle building non-traditional majorities to advance a policy agenda’, so how do you abide Morton Blackwell’s – one of Morton Blackwell’s laws to the public policy process – ‘Don’t treat your friends like your enemies’, while at the same time, as you suggest, making sure that we’re asking the question about what do we win when we win, so we get the best Republican candidate, the best Conservative candidate, and not just any old Republican will do. Jim DeMint: Right, I know, the Party keeps saying we want the most conservative person who can win. That is not been my experience with Republicans, and part of my speech at CPAC was just pointing out there are a lot of Republican leaders who don’t think Conservative ideas and candidates can win in a lot of states around the country. I believe they can, in almost every state, with a good candidate, with a good message, and helping people to understand that there’s a reason Detroit has failed, and Baltimore has failed; it’s because of the liberal-progressive policies that they followed for decades; and there’s a reason why other states like Texas or Florida are doing well that jobs are coming back and growing. It’s because they follow these free market principles with less regulation and less taxes, and we can see the benefits there to the poor, as well as to the rich, and when we grow the economy or when we’ll have School Choice. Ten years ago, the left got away with saying ‘Oh, School Choice is just for the rich’; we’ve got all the data now, and where states expand School Choice, it helps the poor, it helps Blacks, it helps Hispanics, much more than it does the rich. Dan Proft: So we’re sitting here in Chicago and you’re talking about major urban cities; I think the largest city that has a Republican mayor, San Diego. So all the big cities in the country are controlled by Democrats; in the case of Chicago, have been for 100 years, and it seems like this is territory that has been completely seeded to the Democrats; I know the Illinois Republican party here has not made a play for the mayor of Chicago, or any real material play in the city in many, many generations, and it seems curious to me; in the business world, if you see somebody failing to corner a marketplace that provides opportunity, like a big city does, all kinds of opportunities – to advance policy, like School Choice – that seems to me, ‘Well, that’s a place I want to be, because they’re failing, and there’s an opportunity to come in and provide an alternative path, but we haven’t done that. It’s not just Chicago, it’s really national. Jim DeMint: It is, it’s hard to break into a market like Chicago, that’s heavily unionized, particularly government unions, and that’s an automatic financial feeding system to the democrats; and I know, I just had lunch with a Chicago business man, and unless you do things the union way here, they make it very hard for you, so for him to get involved with the Republican politics is likely going to cost him a lot of his customers; once you get such a critical mass of the quid pro quo that comes from the unions and the Democrats, it’s really hard to break in, until the city basically bankrupts. Detroit’s getting a shakeup now because it broke up, went bankrupt, but there’ll be a lot of states like Illinois and California, probably within 5-10 years, that just financially cannot continue. There are going to have to be big changes, and that’s why we’re here, we try to encourage the groups that are here to promote the ideas; there are a lot of common sense Conservatives in Chicago, they’re outnumbered. The same is true in California, but we have to have the right ideas ready when the people are ready for them, and we worked on Freedom in the Workplace, in Michigan for 20 years. Sometimes you call that Right To Work, where people are no longer forced to join unions, that’s actually growing in popularity. West Virginia just became the 26th state. Dan Proft: And who would have thought it would happen in Michigan? Jim DeMint: Right, and people have their right to join the union, but once workers start thinking ‘I should not be forced to join the union, for my dues to be actually supporting politics that I don’t support’, this is not freedom of speech, so the lot of times folks start pushing back against that, and they realize that maybe they could get better jobs, better pay, maybe more freedom in one workplace and the other – everything run by unions. Dan Proft: Now I read the 2016 Policy Solutions that the Heritage Foundation put out. This wasn’t included, so I’m spitballing here, maybe for 2017, but I asked Scott Walker if he would consider scrambling the Wisconsin National Guard, invading and taking over Illinois, and jut making it part of Wisconsin, so maybe we can have Republican governors successfully… Jim DeMint: What was his response on? Dan Proft: Well, he wasn’t so interested, but I asked Mitch Daniels, and now Mike Pence too, so maybe we can have some Republican governors just take over states that refuse to behave, the meth lab of the laboratories of Democracy, like Illinois is, and see if maybe we can just consolidate under those that get it, those that have successful models that should be scaled and not fail models that should be perpetuated, like Illinois. What do you think about that? Jim DeMint: States are pretty much – I should not say at war – but definitely at battle, for businesses, for families. Dan Proft: Competition, sure. Jim DeMint: And people are migrating to those states where the taxes are lower, the business environment is better, where there’s a more of a family atmosphere. Dan Proft: I want to move to Charleston, but they won’t let me do the radio station from there. Jim DeMint: They won’t? Dan Proft: No. Jim DeMint: I feel the same way when I’m in California; of course they have a little better weather than Chicago, but Chicago, it’s my favorite big city; I mean, it’s beautiful, the water looking out over the lake, and so, for folks that probably been here their whole life, it’s going to take a lot to move them out, but after a while, if you want to be successful and give your family the best, you start looking at ‘Is this the right place to raise my family and start a business?’, and more and more around America, you’re seeing people move out of those states that are just frankly unfriendly to ideas that we know make life better. Dan Proft: And thus Illinois leading the nation along with New Jersey now in migration. Jim DeMint: They are, but we’re going to continue to work here, because there’s so many folks who really believe in those American principles and at some point, the old guard in Illinois is going to bring this thing crashing down, and folks are going to look up and say, ‘Okay, what are we going to do now?’, and we want the right people to step forward and say ‘We know exactly what we need to do’. Dan Proft: Yeah, I know, I’m just [inaudible 00:15:50] to the mask-on guys, I’m staying, but it is tempting. You mentioned – I should say – I mentioned that the policy solutions the Heritage promulgated, some 277, won’t go through every single one of them here, but a couple of the important ones that you think are real paradigm changers that should be pursued whether it’s at state level, to the extent that they can’t be their state issues, or state federal issues, and then of course at the federal level. Jim DeMint: The big issue right now in Washington involves a lot of different policies, is our budget; our federal budget, moving towards a balanced budget, and dealing with the deficits, and beginning to reduce our national debt to a manageable function. We’re already seeing that the growth in debt here and around the world is threatening long term economic stagnation, and perhaps the viability of some nations, but we can’t expect this nation to continue to thrive and grow if we actually have more debt than we do economy. Dan Proft: And when debt you’re also talking about unfunded liabilities too. Jim DeMint: Yeah, long beyond my lifespan, but we made a lot of promises to seniors that were dependant on younger workers, now we have more seniors than younger workers; we’re going to end up with a heavy tax burden on young people who are now voting on these ideas, and in a few years they’ll realize what they’ve done, and it’ll be too late, because I’ll be retired and voting for more social security and Medicare, and we’ll have more votes than they do, but so balancing a budget is something that everyone needs to think. Sooner or later you know you have to balance the budget. And I’ve seen, whether it’s Republicans or Democrats, every year, we don’t have to address that now, because that’s going to be a fight, because right now you get a lot of bipartisanship when it comes to the budget, because we gave the Democrats everything they want, the Republicans what they want; we raised the budget, go on to the next year, and we say we have a ten year budget, we’re going to increase it the first five years, and then we’ll going to cut it the next five years. You never cut it the next five years. Dan Proft: We're going to defer this fight so we can defer the next fight. Jim DeMint: This is serious, and to just throw out the numbers, 19 trillion, and everybody’s eyes glaze over, you go ‘How much money is that?’, but right now, the worldwide global debt is three times what the worldwide global economic productivity is – or GEP – and that’s not sustainable, and so the consequences of that are pretty serious, and hopefully we will elect a president who will understand that we need to begin to turn this around. We don’t have to cut big programs, or whatever, right now we’ve got a heritage budget that shows if you just reduce the growth of what we call discretionary spending, then you can move towards a balanced budget in about 7 years, even increasing defense spending. Now, long term, you’re going to have to deal with entitlements; I don’t know if it’s raising retirement age for folks that are younger, or giving them better choices where they actually have their own investment accounts, but the government’s not on the hook for quite as much. There are a lot of things we can do, but it’s unimaginable to me, that with this president, 8 years, that he hasn’t addressed social security or Medicare; he’s actually added to the cost of these; he hasn’t done anything to fix our tax code; he’s made it more complicated, and that’s killing more jobs. We just need a president who’s serious about, ‘Okay, I may be unpopular, but we need to deal with this debt’. Dan Proft: One of the other component parts of the policy solutions document that I found interesting, and it separates Heritage Foundation from some of the libertarian think tanks, and frankly, from a lot of Republicans, who just are unwilling to talk about this area of policy and civilization, and that’s the cultural area. That the idea that we’re just economic man and woman, and the only thing that matters in this world is our marginal tax rate seems to me folly, seems to me we lose on that issue all the time when we allow the left to mimic us; I’m a fiscal conservative and a social moderate too; there’s no one in this world who isn’t a fiscal conservative and a social moderate, so it’s amazing we have 19 trillion dollars of debt with all these fiscal conservatives running around, but the importance of talking about culture, because the law follows culture, and it doesn’t seem like a lot of Republicans, a lot of Conservatives, even thought leaders are comfortable outside of the pages of some of the opinion journals’ talking culture. Jim DeMint: No, and you can’t have a strong economy without a strong culture, and you can’t have a strong defense unless you have a strong economy; it really begins with the culture, and if you look at what makes a strong culture, it does begin with family, and all the data shows there’s very little chance you’ll ever grow up to be poor if your child that’s raised in a family with a married mom and a dad. Now that’s not being against anyone, or the way they want to live, or against any lifestyle. It’s just the facts. The more we can encourage marriage and having children within marriage, more choices in education, all the evidence shows that you move a kid out of failing school, that kid’s likely to end up in college and be successful. We’ve got to talk about social, societal, cultural issues if we want a good economy, and so I don’t think we need to run from it. Frankly, I think the left is very radical on where they stand, issues like planned-parenthood, for instance. You don’t even need to talk about the issues of what they do. If you’ve got a country that can’t pay its bills, and has the bar money every year, and you can’t afford to give our soldiers good rifles, we can’t fund all these things that aren’t even part of government, and frankly, planned-parenthood, I don’t even think they have very many full-time doctors at all. They don’t have any mammograms; all these ideas that they’re providing women health services, you could take half the money and get a lot better health services for women through community health centers that already exist. But when the left won’t even let you talk about that, why would we spend 500 million dollars a year on an organization that’s not part of the government and does actually very little healthcare for women? So if you can’t talk about things like that, and there are things on the right – corporate welfare, like the export-import bank, which we tried to kill last year, it’s just a big government bank for Boeing and General Electric; if Republicans can’t get rid of corporate welfare, then we have no legitimacy to talk about how do we fix welfare in a way that would work. And one more issue – and I know I’m talking too much here – we just saw Maine just take one small step on fixing one part of their welfare program – food stamps. All they did was put a work requirement for able bodied people with no children; primarily folks who probably live at home, getting $300/month food stamps. All you had to do is show up one time a week and work or volunteer for six hours, once a week, to keep getting your food stamps, and though food stamp roll dropped 80% over night. No one was put out in the cold, no one went hungry, but the fact is you had a lot of people who did not need it and were not even willing to walk down and volunteer for 6 hours. We spend a trillion dollars a year on about 80 different welfare programs, and we can’t even talk about making those more effective for people without the left going crazy. Dan Proft: But then what happens when the left goes crazy? Seems to me we have a little bit of – did you ever read the book or see the movie ‘The Mouse That Roared’, a Peter Sellers movie? Jim DeMint: Yeah. Dan Proft: And so the idea is this little fictional country was going to declare war on America because they thought they would be defeated, but then America rebuilds the countries it defeats, so that’s our plan for prosperity. Well, they declared war on America and they won, because what happened was we rolled over. And I think there’s a lot of Conservatives, myself included, who see at the federal level, and when the left goes hysterical at the drop of a hat over anything and everything, that they didn’t expect to win, but when they go gonzo over a particular issue, they demagogue a particular issue, and we run, we offer surrender as our first response, well of course they’re going to continue just advance. Why would they not advance? But we do this over and over again and then we wonder why we don’t have the presidents in civilizing institutions, like K-12 education, or Academia, like we should, and then you’re talking about the pipeline for tomorrow’s leaders, and tomorrow’s intellectual guide stars, and of course it’s all going to be left, and then it becomes self-propagating for them. Jim DeMint: My biggest frustration with Republicans is they’re just not willing to stand up and fight for what they believe in. We’ve seen it on spending… Dan Proft: Do they believe in it? Maybe a lot of people running around calling themselves Conservatives, that’s a convenient label for political reasons, but they don’t actually believe in a lot o this stuff they’re talking about. Jim DeMint: For many of them, it’s secondary to staying in office, and once you sit there in Washington for a while, you start thinking, ‘Oh well, if I try to cut spending, it’s going to be painful, because it’ll make some people made, but if I just give everyone a little increase then everybody’s going to be happy; your K Street lobbyist is going to be happy; if you eliminate a program, like Ex-Im Bank, everybody’s got a General Electric or a Boeing or a Caterpillar plan somewhere in their state, and they’re not happy if you take anything away from them, even though they all announced it won’t hurt their business a bit. So that’s what happens, it becomes painful to do the right thing, and when you do the wrong thing it tends to be more rewarding, because no one ever came to my office as a congressman or senator, and said ‘Jim, we really need to cut something’. Never happened; but any time I tried to do it, I would get complaints, if it was on a transportation bill, all the road contractors in South Carolina would call; so that’s what happens, people just get conditioned, and you keep going along. Dan Proft: Concentrated benefits and defused costs. Jim DeMint: Yeah, so you just are not going attack any of these programs, and if you don’t attack anyone else’s, they don’t attack yours, so we have to win this from the outside, and that’s why I’m outside the senate, and less we get Americans charged up, that said this is not working, we need to change it, I think that’s what you see in the presidential race this year. Voters don’t seem to want anything to do with anyone, except those who are just willing to stand up and say ‘We’ve got to change Washington’. Dan Proft: It’s interesting – I mean, you must have done this as an United States Senator, but I go to a lot of these Lincoln Day and Reagan Day dinners around Illinois and elsewhere, and of course everybody remembers Lincoln and Reagan Fondway – well, they should, but what was the lesson of Lincoln and Reagan? The lesson was, speak with moral clarity on the saline issues of your time. Lincoln was willing to take the country to war, was willing to take the country to war; was willing to endure a civil war to eradicate the pernicious institution of slavery, because it was wrong. Reagan used words like Evil Empire, because the Soviet Union was a godless evil in the world, and he was ridiculed for it at the time, and yet the lesson is to invoke their memory, to impersonate Reagan and Lincoln by remembering them, rather than emulating them. Jim DeMint: It’s a really good point, and folks use the Reagan name a lot, but he was willing to stand up when tested, you know, when the air traffic control folks tried to back him into a corner, he stood up, took a big risk, but he didn’t have to do it anymore once people realized he would do it, and that’s what I’ve told so many of my Republican colleagues, particularly since President Obama was elected, I said ‘If we don’t stand up to him, it’s going to be the same thing every year’. He’s going to want more at the end of the year, we’ll act like we want to stand up, he knows we want, he’ll keep pushing, the government will close for a few days, and the Republicans will run off, and we raise the budget, and keep it like we’ve done it, every year he’s been in office. So we need some people with character, with some courage, willing to take the pain of doing the right thing. The next president is going to probably be very unpopular, either because the country crashed around him, or because he makes those difficult decisions that have to be made right now about social security, Medicare, about our tax system, and hopefully we’ll get a president like that, because this country desperately needs it. Dan Proft: I want to go to something you said about when you were in the Senate you weren’t particularly popular, you got chastised by the poobahs and whatnot, Ted Cruz not particularly popular; this has been seen as a bug with the Ted Cruz candidacy, but it seems to me that the people criticizing people who are not popular; I mean if it’s not popular for standing on principle for substantive disagreement, not for behaving like a buffoon, it seems to me that they don’t understand politics, because politics seems to me – may comment on this – is not about being the most popular, I’m not going to Dale Carnegie my way to my agendas; it’s about aligning interests, and I know some very unpopular people. We have the longest serving State House speaker in the history of the country, in Illinois, and he is not popular, but he’s incredibly effective, because he understands that moving an agenda, or stopping an agenda, is about aligning interests, not about personal popularity all the time, and it seems to me a lot of Republicans don’t get that. Jim DeMint: You’re right, I think when you don’t really have your own principle bearings, and you’re trying to find your way through that quagmire, there are a lot of them who just want to get liked. And it becomes very unpopular to try to change the status quo, so it’s easier to get along and get on a committee that has something you like and just work on it, and don’t worry about the fact that you’re straightening the deck chairs on the Titanic. You’ll think ‘We’ll deal with that after the next election’, but I just don’t know how many next elections we’re going to have if we don’t turn things around. I know, sometimes I feel like I’m crying wolf, but I know enough about a balance sheet, about what’s coming in and going out that this country is close to a tipping point, and now is the time to do it. So that’s why I think this year is so important; not just with the president, but with the House, the Senate, the Supreme Court; there’s a lot on the line. Dan Proft: The good news about this year so far is there’s been renewed interest in participating. People want to get active; they want to exercise their frustrations and exasperations, largely in a productive way. They want to be involved, and a lot of people who are not involved in the policy ring and the political ring don’t always know where to go. So what would you say to people who don’t want to run for office, or maybe don’t even want to work on a campaign, but they do want to be part of positive policy changes at the local level, the state level, the federal level; what are some organizations in addition to Heritage Foundation or even individuals, not politicians, because they’re kind of not trustworthy, but other people that are not beholden to every 2 years, 4 years, 6 years, where you say that these are people that have a model, that is pretty sharp, and you get involved there, you’re going to find it rewarding, and they’re helping the collective move the flag. Jim DeMint: Just becoming more knowledgeable, and that’s difficult in itself to get the truth, because they’re not many news sources you can go to that are going to give you a clear picture of what’s going on. We’ve started an online news source called Daily Signal. Dan Proft: Yeah, it’s good. Jim DeMint: dailysignal.com, and it’s more about people than policies, but there are policies connected with lives and how policy fix their life, and a lot of people are not necessary interested in reading a research paper, but these are really quick stories, so I’d encourage folks to do that; there’s another organization that we started called Heritage Action, and there are different kind of organizations, they’re training and organizing people on the ground around the country, and they have what they call their sentinels, who take a little course on how to contact your congressman or senator or state rep, and they call in on conference calls every week, and just become more informed. It doesn’t take a lot of time. Some people spend a lot of time; they might be part of a local Tea Party, or a Republican Party, but some just do it a few minutes a week, by sending a few emails, but they can become part of an army that can affect what Congress does, because if several thousand people do something at the same time it can really rattle the cages of a Senator in Washington. So Heritage Action is one we believe in, and we work with a lot of other groups on the ground; you mentioned Morton Blackwell with his Leadership Institute on campuses are good, and you got freedom works on the ground out there, but Heritage Action is probably the most sophisticated organization that gives people the flexibility to do a little or a lot. Dan Proft: I think people want to get out of this business of competing prognostications and work [inaudible 00:34:04], but they would like to see that. Jim DeMint: We don’t endorse candidates, and you can go to something like Senate Conservative Fund if you want to endorse a Senate candidate, but what we’re trying to do is endorse the idea, just get people informed and engaged in the ideas and make it possible. I know that the name of your show is Against the Current, but Edmund Burke once said that politicians are just corks bobbing in the water, it’s up to us to create the current, and it’s really true, you said it, politics is downstream from the culture, and so the battle is going to be won outside of politics. And if you elect someone and we haven’t won the battle in the outside, then they’re going to go bad on the answer; either they’re going to go bad or get out. We have to make it possible for good people to do the right thing when they’re in office, and that’s what we want to do in the Conservative Movement. Dan Proft: He is Jim DeMint, former United States Senator, now the President of the Heritage Foundation; Jim DeMint, thanks so much for joining us, appreciate it. Jim DeMint: Thank you, Dan!

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Dan & Amy Interview CTU VP Jesse Sharkey

Chicago Teachers' Union Vice President Jesse Sharkey says Chicago Public Schools (CPS) need 25% more than the $15,000+ it spends per pupil in order to improve the quality of education the system provides. Sharkey also discussed the continuing possibility of a teachers' strike and the GOP idea of a state takeover of CPS.

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Proft: Jesse thanks again for joining us. Sharkey: As always, thanks for having me on. Proft: Let’s start with the prospect of the strike. Where does that stand? Have there been further discussion with Claypool and the CPS honchos. Where does that stand? Sharkey: We’re negotiating with them. And frankly, negotiations have been serious and productive. One of the big problems is obviously the overall funding picture of the district. So it does tie back in to what you guys were doing earlier in the segment. And we’re very aware that Cullerton moved the school funding formula. But to be fair to Cullerton and also Senator Andy Manar, who’s the one whose bill this is, they’ve been moving that bill in the Senate for the last better part of a decade. This is not a new issue. Chicago gets about $600 million in a block grant. And you talk about Peter and Paul, and I’m no theological scholar, but I think even Jesus recognized that the least among us should get a helping hand. Proft: Woah. Channeling John Kasich this morning. Intreresting. Here’s the rub, Jesse. Let me just give you an example. I’ve got all the numbers statewide. I mentioned this earlier in the show but I’d like to get your reaction. I’ve got all the numbers statewide in terms of the per-pupil expenditure, plus the local versus state versus federal distribution, or composition of that funding. So, for example, Matteson. Its a smaller community in south Cook County. Blue collar. Working to middle income. A lot of children that qualify for the free or reduced lunch program, like in Chicago. Here are the numbers. District 159 in Matteson, $15,159 per student Chicago, $15,120 per student So, basically the same. District 159, 70 percent low income. CPS, 87 percent low income. But here’s the difference. District 159 is funded 80 percent from local property taxpayers. CPS, funded 49 percent from local property taxpayers, getting two times more from the state than does Matteson. So you have Matteson District 159, with 70 percent of the kids from low-income families that are subsidizing CPS, that’s the basic fact. Sharkey: The issue Dan and Amy is that in Chicago you have huge concentrations of poverty, English-language learners, Special Education students. And those concentrations add up and are difficult to deal with and produce conditions that produce real challenges for educators. I’m not saying that places like Matteson should get cut. But Manar and Cullerton are right when they point out that even if you look at the block grant, which is the way Chicago’s schools are funded, it doesn’t really take into account just how difficult it is to educate students in places like Chicago. Chicago, like I said, gets $600 million from the state on a budget of $4.5 billion. Chicago in fact gets a lot of its money from the state and the feds through special education money, Title 1 funding. And it produces a real challenge. CTU has often said that if you compare the tax rates of Chicago to the tax rates of the collar suburbs, our local property taxes are actually lower rates. But I don’t think you guys are arguing we should increase the rate for homeowners in Chicago. Proft: That already did happen. And it’s going to continue. Sharkey: Not for the schools so much. That last increase, only like a tenth of it went to the schools. Jacobson: It went to fire and police pensions. Proft: Well, right. Because everything in the city is bankrupt. The numbers are the numbers. But one thing on property taxes. Let’s just understand something here. Cook County does property tax classification differently than the other 101 counties. So they use commercial to subsidize residential, whereas in the collar counties it’s all assessed at the same rate. Sharkey: Chicago has the ability to do that because it has a commercial district in a way that the collars don’t. Jacobson: From what I’m hearing from the teachers that I know at our Chicago Public School, they don’t think there’s going to be a strike because Karen Lewis made a great concession saying they will end the process of requiring contributions to their pensions Sharkey: I see what Karen was saying is that in a situation where there’s a real difficulty with the district’s finances. We obviously have debates among a lot of people, the mayor and you guys included about what the source of that difficulty is. But we see that there’s a financial crisis and there’s difficulty there. I think what Karen was trying to say is that everything’s on the table. What she wasn’t saying is that we’re going to go in and slash what’s effectively seven percent of our compensation and give that back to help other people solve the crisis on our backs. Jacobson: But you’re willing to take a hit, right? It sounded to me like ending the practice of picking up the bulk of the teacher’s required contributions to the pensions but-- so you’re saying that’s not true? That that was misleading in the media? Sharkey: What I’m saying is that you’d never accused us of not being shrewd bargainers and not trying to drive a hard bargain. Proft: No- we would not accuse you of that. Sharkey: What we’re saying is that everything’s on the table. And we’re trying to figure out if the district is committed to making the system work. There would have to be something in return for people who work for the schools. We’d have to have some assurances that there’s not going to go gutting the district, handing it over to charter operators, closing schools, stuffing kids in classes like sardines. There’s a whole series of things that we would want before you could talk about the pension pick-up and what would happen to it and what teacher’s compensation would be like in the future. There’s a whole conversation that complicates the negotiations right now. Proft: Do you think that the trial balloon floated by Governor Rauner and Republicans in terms of providing a pathway for CPS to reorganize under bankruptcy protection. Do you think that’s mean-spirited? Do you think there are bad intentions? Sharkey: I just think it’s not wise in terms of the reputational and financial investment that’s been made in CPS over the past 20 years. If you just look back at how much school construction. And can point to how far we have left to go in terms of student achievement rates and things like that. And that’s fair. No one ever said it was easy to educate in schools that have a 100 percent poverty rate and 80 percent mobility rate and things like that. But there’s been a lot of progress in the school system. There are lots of schools that do very well. There are whole neighborhoods in swathes of the city where people move to those neighborhoods for the schools. There are a number of ways where, despite everything, teachers and people who work in the schools have found success. I think the prospect of saying “the whole thing is broken, we’re going to flush it,” that’s a bad idea. Proft: Well, they didn’t flush Detroit they’re reorganizing it. There’s not flushing it they’re reorganizing it to rethink it and frankly to get out from underneath of some of the bills that you cannot pay, at least not at full freight. Sharkey: Ok, but what happened to Detroit is that a number of the vendors and creditors didn’t get paid. They took a haircut. Workers in the schools didn’t get paid and took a haircut. Proft: Yeah Bondholders. That’s what happens in bankruptcy. Right. Sharkey: So-- and look at the result. Jacobson: Are you just scared that if that happens, if they declare bankruptcy and that state takes control that you would lose control? Is that your biggest fear? Sharkey: Everybody loses control right? Sure. Who wants to have a federal bankruptcy judge with an up or down vote on a plan which the governor makes? I think the schools should be more democratically run, not less democratically run. We should have some local control. Proft: I want to go back to the per-pupil spending. $15,120 for Chicago. And you talked about the difficulty that a big urban school system presents. Maybe it shouldn’t be so big. But that’s a separate conversation. Have you guys determined what you think the actual number needs to be? The kind of resources you need on a per-pupil basis to do a better job educating children? Sharkey: We made a series of proposals, all of which have costs attached to them. The district made a pretty big point of that. The things that we would need, that we think would produce a better educational result. Can you drill down to a single number for me, per-pupil? Sharkey: Yeah I think for a billion dollars extra for year, you could probably do a lot. Proft: And the budget this year for CPS was? Sharkey: It was $4.5. Proft: So a 25 percent increase. Ok, well that’s a number. I appreciate it. Sharkey: I mean, look. Realistically, what’s likely to happen politically is those numbers are likely to move in the other direction. I like to point out that in the foundation world alone, which is being funded by Gates money and Walton money and Broad Money has spent that billion dollars in the last few years trying to advocate for charter schools. They’ll spend more than that much money on the presidential cycle, on ads and what not. There’s a lot of money- soft money that’s pouring in to super PACS. It sounds outrageous until you realize you’re talking about 400,000 of kids growing up in the most challenging environments in the country.

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