Jonathan Chait

DeMint Standard

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It's pretty remarkable when even Jim DeMint, the patron saint of the conservative purists, insists that Social Security and Medicare are sacrosanct:

GREGORY: All right-- let me ask you about another hot button issue. And that is the debt ceiling. Come spring, Congress is gonna have to vote to raise the debt ceiling, because our debt is increasing. And it’s reaching the $4.3 trillion limit that Congress has already set. $14-- .3 trillion limit-- that Congress set in February. Will you vote to increase the debt ceiling?

DEMINT: No, I won’t. Not-- not unless this debt ceiling is combined with some pa-- path to balancing our budget. Returning to 2008 spending levels. Repealing Obamacare. We have got to demonstrate that we have the resolve to cut spending. Now, we’ve already spent the money and raising the debt ceiling is just like paying off your credit card bill. But we cannot allow that to go through the Congress without-- showing the American People that we are gonna balance the budget. And we’re not gonna continue to raise the debt in America.

GREGORY: All right, well, let me ask you specifically about that. Where would-- do you think the American People have to be prepared for sacrifice? Which part of the budget, knowing that there’s only 15 percent that’s non-- discretionary-- or that’s real-- that’s real-- non-defense discretionary-- part of the budget. What are you gonna target-- for cuts?

DEMINT: Well, I don’t think the American People are gonna have to sacrifice as much as the government bureaucrats who get paid about twice what the American worker does. First of all, we just need to return to pre-Obama levels of spending in 2008. We need to cut earmarks so people will quit focusing on taking home the bacon. We need to defund Obamacare. And then we need to look at the entitlement programs, such as-- the way Paul Ryan has done in the House with his road map to America’s future. To fix our tax code, to fix Social Security and Medicare, and to cut the cost over time. We’ve got the plans, David, to do this. We just-- we need to talk about ‘em. We need to help the American people see where we’re going.

(CROSSTALK)

DAVID GREGORY: I want to be very-- very-- 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.
Excuse me –let me grab a sip of water.

GREGORY: But then-- but where do you make the cuts? I mean, if you’re protecting everything for the-- 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-- like the Democrats did in this big Obamacare bill. We can restore sanity in Washington without cutting any benefits to seniors or veterans.

Aside from "cutting waste," DeMint's one big idea for saving money is to repeal the Affordable Care Act. And what does he attack the Affordable Care act for? Cutting Medicare! So he's essentially conceding that his "deficit-reducing" plan involves increasing the deficit.

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