Green Room

Remember that “Pay As You Go” Law the President Wanted? Neither Does He.

posted at 3:08 pm on July 17, 2010 by

The President engaged in another bit of tale-telling today in his radio address today.

President Barack Obama says Senate Republicans are playing politics with bills that would extend benefits to the unemployed and increase lending to small businesses.

Striking a deeply partisan tone in his weekly radio and online address, Obama said the GOP leadership has chosen to “filibuster our recovery and obstruct our progress” by blocking votes on agenda items the president says would breath life into the economic recovery.

“These steps aren’t just the right thing to do for those hardest hit by the recession,” Obama said. “They’re the right thing to do for all of us.”

The Republicans aren’t stopping “progress” (which lately means “stuff I want to do regardless of its effect on the economy”) and they certainly aren’t obstructing anything but the Democrats’ attempt to break a law they passed, a law the President insisted Congress pass not but a few months ago. The law is called PayGo and it used to be a big deal.

Does anyone remember the PayGo law? Let me remind you what the President said about it in February.

It’s pretty simple. It says to Congress, you have to pay as you go. You can’t spend a dollar unless you cut a dollar elsewhere. This is how a responsible family or business manages a budget. And this is how a responsible government manages a budget, as well.

It was this rule that helped lead to balanced budgets in the 1990s, by making clear that we could not increase entitlement spending or cut taxes simply by borrowing more money. And it was the abandonment of this rule that allowed the previous administration and previous congresses to pass massive tax cuts for the wealthy and create an expensive new drug program without paying for any of it. Now in a perfect world, Congress would not have needed a law to act responsibly, to remember that every dollar spent would come from taxpayers today – or our children tomorrow.

But this isn’t a perfect world. This is Washington. And while in theory there is bipartisan agreement on moving on balanced budgets, in practice, this responsibility for the future is often overwhelmed by the politics of the moment. It falls prey to the pressure of special interests, to the pull of local concerns, and to a reality familiar to every single American – the fact that it is a lot easier to spend a dollar than save one.

That is why this rule is necessary. And that is why I am pleased that Congress fulfilled my request to restore it. Last night, I signed the “pay as you go” rule into law. Now, Congress will have to pay for what it spends, just like everybody else.

Pretty big talk isn’t it? I guess it’s okay to talk big about not taking your money frivolously when it’s in his political interests. But when he needs to swipe 34 billion dollars to buy five or six percent in the polls, he’s not all that interested in “responsibility for the future” or recognizing the “reality familiar to every American”, now is he?

Here is the real deal. The President could have his benefit extension tomorrow if Democrats dug into the more than $3 trillion budget and found it. I’m sure there are Mussel Research Programs and Federal office buildings whose construction could be delayed for another year to pay for their endless welfare program. But they won’t because it’s much easier to put the black hat on the Republicans than it is for them to live under the law they themselves passed.

I would suggest the President stop playing stupid political games and abide by the law he wanted so very badly five months ago. If he can’t find the money in his bloated, wasteful, corrupt budget then obviously he doesn’t care very much for the people who are out of work now because of his inept economic bungling.

(Read this post and more from Jimmie at his blog The Sundries Shack or listen to his weekly political and pop-culture podcast, The Delivery)

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The President could have his benefit extension tomorrow if Democrats dug into the more than $3 trillion budget and found it.

Good luck with that.

gryphon202 on July 17, 2010 at 3:25 PM

I got three words for you paygo supporters: Smoke. And. Mirrors. This will be a campaign issue in 2012, and I hope the Republicans are willing to run with it like they should.

gryphon202 on July 17, 2010 at 5:30 PM

Great post. The president and the democrats in congress wanted all of the accolades of being fiscally responsible by passing this law and holding a big press conference touting it.

But, this isn’t the only time they have wanted to waive paygo. They’ve done it 3 or 4 other times too since it was passed.

The Republicans should respond that they are only holding Obama to his own standards, and play the quotes from Obama about the importance of paygo around the clock.

By the way, there is still about $400 billion from the stimulus that they could use to fund this if they really wanted to.

JohnInCA on July 17, 2010 at 6:14 PM

There are billions in unspent stimulus money that can be used. Except, of course, this administration is going to conveniently use it to prop up democrat candidates in the 2010 and 2012 elections. Watch where the money goes, folks. Reid is in trouble? New roads in Nevada. Blanche Lincoln on the ropes, a new community center!!

Dr.Gills on July 17, 2010 at 7:34 PM

A responsible family or business manager wouldn’t foolishly spend out the wazoo, either, Mr. President, but then you don’t really grasp that concept, do you.

Kissmygrits on July 18, 2010 at 9:45 AM

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Ed Morrissey on July 18, 2010 at 4:22 PM