Pay-go a Goner
posted at 9:35 am on November 11, 2008 by Ed Morrissey
Remember when Democrats insisted on pay-go rules in 2006 as evidence of their fiscal responsibility? Recall how they scoffed when George Bush used the 9/11 attacks and the economic damage done by them as a reason for increased deficit spending? Well, Democrats sound more and more like George Bush every day. Pay-go, the Wall Street Journal notes, is officially a goner, and the Democrats are the ones reaching for rationalizations:
As Congress gears up to pass another spending “stimulus” bill, there’s one political silver lining: Democrats are being forced to abandon the pretense of fiscal conservatism known as “pay as you go” budgeting.
Late last week the leader of the House Blue Dog Coalition, Tennessee Democrat Jim Cooper, announced that with Barack Obama about to enter the White House, “I’m not sure the old rules are relevant anymore.” Why not? Because, Mr. Cooper said, “It would be unfair to the new President to put him in a budget straitjacket.”
Why call this a “silver lining”? It’s more than just a demonstration of rank hypocrisy by the Democrats. It removes one of their favorite rationales for tax hikes. While Bush and the Republicans spent money between 2001-6 in a manner that would embarrass drunken sailors, Democrats claimed that the irresponsibility didn’t come from the spending, but from the failure to confiscate more money from taxpayers to fund it.
Voters bought this nonsense, apparently needing a break from the nonsense of the previous five years, in 2006. Democrats quickly enacted their idea of pay-go by waiving the rule a dozen times on their way to crafting a $400 billion deficit. While breaking their own rules, Steny Hoyer insisted that the Democratic caucus remained committed to pay-go, as long as it didn’t keep them from increasing spending as often as they liked.
Now that they won their second straight national election on the premise of fiscal responsibility and have a Democrat in the White House, Congress has decided that they don’t need that “straitjacket” any longer. And why? Not because of a war or trillions of dollars in damage after a terrorist attack. No, they just want to spend money because of an economic crisis brought about in the main because of Democratic Party policies of interference in lending markets.