DEMINT’S VISION OF BUDGET CUTS…. When it comes to the Senate, no one’s further to the right than South Carolina’s Jim DeMint (R). And with the GOP planning to slash spending, one would assume that DeMint would be waving the biggest hatchet.
But Jon Chait flagged an interesting exchange from the right-wing senator’s recent appearance on “Meet the Press.” DeMint emphasized his demand that the country be on a “path to balancing our budget,” and noted the need to “look at the entitlement programs.” It led host David Gregory to ask a reasonable question.
GREGORY: I want to be very specific, because going back to 2008 spending levels will not get anywhere close to balancing the budget. So, you’re saying that everything has to be on the table. Cuts in defense. Cuts in Medicare. Cuts in Social Security. Is that right?
DEMINT: Well, no, we’re not talking about cuts in Social Security. If we can just cut the administrative waste, we can cut hundreds of billions of dollars a year at the federal level. So, before we start cutting — I mean, we need to keep our promises to seniors, David. And cutting benefits to seniors is not on the table.
GREGORY: But then, but where do you make the cuts? I mean, if you’re protecting everything for the most potent political groups, like seniors, who go out and vote, where are you really gonna balance the budget?
DEMINT: Well, look at Paul Ryan’s roadmap to the future. We see a clear path to moving back to a balanced budget over time. Again, the plans are on the table. We don’t have to cut benefits for seniors. And we don’t need to cut Medicare — like the Democrats did in this big Obamacare bill. We can restore sanity in Washington without cutting any benefits to seniors or veterans.
This is interesting for a couple of reasons. The first is that arguably the Senate’s most far-right member is desperate to cut spending, but when pressed, says he wants to leave Social Security and Medicare alone.
The second is that DeMint twice referenced Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) “roadmap.” Maybe DeMint’s a little behind on his reading, but there’s a disconnect here — while vowing not to cut seniors’ benefits, he’s also endorsing Ryan’s budget plan, which calls for privatizing Social Security and gutting Medicare. It also fails miserably in the goal DeMint claims to care about — cutting the deficit. As Paul Krugman recently explained, the Ryan plan “is a fraud that makes no useful contribution to the debate over America’s fiscal future.”
Raise your hand if you think Jim DeMint has any idea what he’s talking about.