DeMint comes out against tax deal, says GOP must do ‘better than this’

Sen. Jim DeMint, the South Carolina Republican who bucked his party leadership during the midterm elections, was back at it again Tuesday night, saying he would not vote for the tax cut deal brokered between the GOP and President Obama because it increases the deficit.

“Most of us who ran this election said we were not going to vote for anything that increased the deficit. This does,” DeMint said, explaining his opposition to conservative radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt.

It could be the beginning of the deal’s unraveling, if DeMint’s public break with the deal and with his party’s handling of negotiations with the White House prompts others in his party to turn against it as well, especially over the roughly $900 billion the deal adds to the deficit and national debt.

During the midterm elections, DeMint’s endorsements of Tea Party candidates in primaries against candidates favored by the Washington establishment angered many in his party. His words to Hewitt Tuesday are sure to set off a new round of recriminations within GOP circles.

DeMint appeared wary of being too tough on his party leaders, but was unapologetic in opposing the deal.

“I don’t want to second-guess my leadership, but frankly, I think we need to come away with a lot better than this,” he said. “We cannot increase the deficit, or keep increasing deficit spending.”

“So again, I’m trying not to be too hard on the people who’ve done this, but we’ve worked too hard, and Americans worked too hard to elect us.”

DeMint said the negotiating process should have been more open and inclusive of new lawmakers just elected, and even expressed a willingness to keep working on a deal into next year and allow taxes to go up on all Americans on Jan. 1.

“So it wouldn’t hurt my feelings at all if we pushed this whole things into next year,” he said. “There are a lot of people advocating for it, saying this is the best that we can get. But I’ve talked to a number of the conservatives today who have grave concerns. I know a lot of them won’t vote for it unless it’s paid for. I don’t think the Democrats are going to cut spending enough to pay for this.”