By Alexander Bolton - 08/02/09 12:06 PM EDT
Senate Republican Steering Committee Chairman Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and House GOP Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-Ind.), two outspoken critics of the Obama administration, defended their tactics Sunday.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) accused DeMint of being “negative” on the subject of healthcare reform and charged that Republicans didn’t have a plan to fix the healthcare system.
“I hope as a result of this exchange Jim DeMint would at least say whether he agrees or not that he's willing to work with the Democrats in the Senate to see what we come up with,” Rangel said during an appearance on Fox News Sunday.
DeMint, who appeared on the same show, countered that he has introduced a healthcare reform plan as has Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.), a Republican on the Ways and Means panel.
“The congressman knows Republicans have a plan. Paul Ryan on his committee has filed a great plan,” said DeMint.
“I've introduced the Health Care Freedom Act that would force interstate competition, that would give every family who doesn't get their insurance at work $5,000 a year to buy health insurance, which is above the national average for the cost,” he added.
DeMint shot back that a Democratic proposal to create a government-run health insurance program, which Rangel favors, would result in a “government takeover” of the healthcare industry.
Pence, appearing later on the show, responded to a new Democratic radio ad in Indiana that criticizes him for voting against the economic stimulus package, which has funded local infrastructure projects.
“These projects are creating and saving jobs and boosting our economy,” says the narrator in the Democratic National Committee’s ad. “So when you see that sign that says this project funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, you can say, ‘No thanks to Mike Pence.’”
Pence countered that the stimulus did not save as many jobs as promised and that it will expand the national debt.
“The Democrats in Congress and the administration said that we were going to have to borrow nearly a trillion dollars from future generations and spend it on this long laundry list of liberal spending priorities that we called the stimulus and that unless we did that, unemployment would reach 8 percent nationally,” he said.
“It’s 9.5 percent nationally today. In my beloved Indiana, it’s 10.7 percent and still rising.”
Pence said a better solution to the nation’s economic woes would be to restore fiscal discipline in Washington and cut cutting taxes for working families, small businesses and family farms.