The Republicans and other conservative politicians talked about wasteful spending. “Slash earmarks,” they cried. “Cut the budget!” These are all very nice ideas which all Americans can agree on. The argument comes when we have sit down and cut something. (Senator-elect Paul has already started to waffle on earmarks.)

From Political Animal:

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. (see clip above, start at 3:43 time mark)

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.”

What should be clear to the American people is most conservatives are great at talking. They aren’t great at making plans that will help the American people. They have no idea how to do what they are proposing. There will be a big showdown over earmarks. Who knows what’s going to happen on the budget? I don’t suspect that major cuts to Social Security or Defense are really on the table.