Barack Obama has done a lot of posturing lately as a deficit hawk, especially after signing the Pay-Go legislation that supposedly requires Congress to pay for any new spending with new revenues or spending cuts elsewhere. Since passing that rule in February, Democrats have repeatedly waived it in order to pass smaller bills. With just a couple of weeks left before the Memorial Day recess, they’ll push legislation that will cost more than $200 billion — none of which will meet the Pay-Go requirement:
Congress faces a crush of votes on big-ticket items before the Memorial Day recess, setting up a debate on deficits less than six months before the November elections.
Democratic leaders are looking in the next three weeks to send President Barack Obama a slew of measures that cost more than $200 billion, including a multiyear extension of unemployment benefits, an extension of expiring tax provisions and Medicare doctor payments totaling $180 billion and a $33 billion Afghanistan war supplemental bill.
Because most of those costs won’t be paid for, Republicans plan to use those bills and the Democrats’ budget blueprint to highlight massive deficits ahead of the congressional midterm election. Republicans have recently been pointing to Greece’s dismal fiscal situation as a warning, claiming that the U.S. will be headed for a similar fate unless the deficits are curtailed.
“Washington Democrats’ out-of-control spending spree is scaring the hell out of the American people,” said Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio). “It has to stop.”
Small wonder, then, that the Democratic members of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform have begun talking about tax hikes — “pro-growth” tax hikes, which exist on the same plane of reality as unicorns, Bigfoot, and “conservative Democrats.” They need the extra revenue because their colleagues in Congress continue raising the floor on spending cuts. If Democrats were serious about the mission of the deficit commission, they would freeze spending until after the panel returns its recommendations. Instead, they’re still spending as though there is no tomorrow.
What about Pay-Go, for that matter? The entire idea of Pay-Go, the passage of which the Democrats celebrated like a Super Bowl victory, was to handcuff spending on borrowed money. When did they plan on putting their new rule into effect — after Republicans take control of the House? Because they’re certainly acting as though they can’t wait for that to happen.
Barack Obama will certainly veto any bill that doesn’t meet Pay-Go requirements, right? Right? Right?