- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sen. Jim DeMint, South Carolina Republican, urged President Obama to put North Korea back on the list of state sponsors of terror, arguing that the regime took advantage of the Bush administration’s decision to take Pyongyang off the list.

“All North Korea did after we took them off that list was to use the flexibility that we gave them to reclaim the assets that had been frozen and use them to expedite their nuclear program,” he said in an interview on The Washington Times’ morning radio show, “America’s Morning News.” “They’re basically slapping us in the face for trying to do something,…a good gesture.”

Mr. DeMint joins a growing chorus of administration critics saying President Obama should take a tougher line against North Korea in the face of a string of military provocations in recent weeks.

President Bush removed North Korea from the list last year as part of a multilateral deal designed to halt the North’s nuclear programs.

Mr. DeMint said North Korea has assisted other hostile governments, including Syria and Iran, with their nuclear efforts. The lawmaker urged Mr. Obama to freeze North Korea’s assets around the world.

In the interview, the first-term senator also criticized a leading Democratic health care proposal, a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee bill that would create a government-funded health insurance plan, arguing that it would lead to a socialist health care plan.

Mr. DeMint said he supports an alternative health reform plan that would give $5,000 vouchers to Americans to purchase private health insurance.

Mr. DeMint also blasted Sen. Barbara Boxer, California Democrat, for asking a brigadier general to address her as “Senator.”

During a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing Wednesday, Mrs. Boxer asked Brigadier General Michael Walsh to address her as “Senator” instead of “ma’am.”

“It’s just a thing,” she said. “I worked so hard to get that title. So I’d appreciate it. Yes. Thank you.”

Mr. DeMint called Mrs. Boxer “a loose cannon.”

“For her to try to embarrass him in front of the public — I just can’t put up for that kind of thing — if people think too much of themselves,” he said.

He added that “ma’am” is “the highest title” — higher than senator or congressman.

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