RAND PAUL CALLS PROSPECT OF SHUTDOWN ‘A MISTAKE’…. Sen.-elect Rand Paul (R-Ky.) chatted with a far-right news website yesterday, and surprisingly enough, rejected the notion of using a government shutdown to force the White House to give Republicans what they want.

[S]ome GOP members of Congress, as well as some of the activist conservatives elected on Nov. 2, continue to discuss a shutdown as a viable option. But Sen.-elect Paul is not among them.

In an exclusive interview Monday on Capitol Hill, the Kentucky ophthalmologist told Newsmax: “I think shutting down the government is a mistake. Nobody really wants that. That’s sort of government by chaos.”

To say, of course, that “nobody really wants that” isn’t quite right — plenty of current and incoming Republican lawmakers seem to be relishing the prospect of a shutdown. Indeed, none other than Rand Paul recently said he’ll refuse to vote for an extension of the federal debt limit, which would both shut down the government and send the United States into default.

Still, it’s a good thing when a shutdown is characterized as unreasonable and extreme — especially by unreasonable extremists — because it may help create an incentive for Republicans to avoid it.

Paul will not, however, necessarily be a voice of reason when it comes to budgetary issues. In the same interview, he told the far-right website that he’ll push to eliminate a $1.2 trillion budget deficit in a year or two, which no sane person should consider possible.

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Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.