Republicans have been having a hard time recently squaring their stated desire to balance the budget without raising taxes with the stark reality that most of the budget is composed of entitlements and defense spending, which they are loathe to say they want to cut. Yesterday, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) put this on full display, endorsing Rep. Paul Ryan’s Roadmap for America’s Future — which is an attempt to balance the budget via draconian cuts to Medicare and Social Security — moments after telling NBC host David Gregory that such entitlement cuts are “not on the table”:
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, but where do you make the cuts? I mean, if you’re protecting everything for those, the most potent political groups like seniors who go out and vote, where are you really going to 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.
DeMint is either ignorant as to what the Roadmap actually says or he is willing to totally mislead his audience, as the Roadmap is an explicit attempt to balance the federal budget via severe cuts to Medicare and Social Security:
The Ryan plan would eliminate traditional Medicare, most of Medicaid, and all of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), converting these health programs largely to vouchers that low-income households, seniors, and people with disabilities could use to help buy insurance in the private health insurance market. Under Ryan’s plan, the value of the vouchers would fall further behind the rising cost of health care with each passing year, so they would purchase less health coverage over time. By 2080, Medicare would be cut 76 percent below its projected size under current policies. [...]
The Ryan plan proposes large cuts in Social Security benefits — roughly 16 percent for the average new retiree in 2050 and 28 percent in 2080 from price indexing alone — and initially diverts most of these savings to help fund private accounts rather than to restore Social Security solvency.
And after all that, Ryan’s Roadmap still wouldn’t balance the budget (even as it raises taxes on 90 percent of Americans). So is DeMint willfully ignorant as to the plan’s practical implications or is he simply trying to paper over the fact that Republicans don’t actually care about the budget deficit?