Right Hooks

Behind DeMint's Demise

It appears The Heritage Foundation is ousting its president. Where did things go wrong? One word: ObamaCare.

Thomas Gallatin · May 1, 2017

As news hit the airways over the weekend that former Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) was being ousted as president of The Heritage Foundation, rumors and speculation began to run rampant. As of this morning, the nation’s premier conservative think tank has yet to release an official statement, but it’s pretty clear that DeMint is indeed on his way out after four years at the helm. So, what happened?

It appears that two issues may be the primary factors contributing to DeMint’s departure. The first is the charge that DeMint overly politicized The Heritage Foundation. As a source with knowledge of the situation stated, “The reason why the board got upset with him was his management. DeMint and his people just tried running the place like a Senate office rather than a think tank. It didn’t work.” The Heritage Foundation from its inception has prided itself on being a policy-first conservative think tank in its mission to define and defend conservatism. The complaints surrounding DeMint seem to be that he favored politics over policy.

And this is where the second issue comes into play. Under DeMint, The Heritage Foundation came out staunchly against the GOP’s plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare, siding with the Freedom Caucus, which has subsequently been heavily criticized and blamed for the failed effort. The criticism stems from complaints that the Foundation offered little in the way of sound policy support needed for a solid Republican replacement plan and instead promoted a position that amounted to an “all or none” approach to ending the Affordable Care Act. That pleased grassroots conservatives, who decidedly do not blame the Freedom Caucus for standing on principle, but it wasn’t consistent with Heritage’s historic mission.

Stinging from the recent failure to provide truly helpful policy support for a new transformative health care law and an apparent drifting from its roots, it appears the board decided that DeMint’s tenure was proving more problematic than beneficial to the cause. In the meantime, the Foundation’s former president Edwin Feulner will act as interim while a new president is sought.

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