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Pay-Go, We Hardly Knew Ye

By Da King Published: February 18, 2010

Six days ago, President Obama signed Pay-Go legislation into law. Pay-Go required that federal spending be paid for, in order to stop the spiraling federal budget deficits and debt. A worthy notion, but we should have suspected something was amiss when the Pay-Go legislation also included a provision to raise the debt ceiling to $14.2 trillion. Why would we need to raise the debt ceiling if we were going to pay for federal spending going forward ? It's a non-sequitur. If we truly were going to pay for federal spending going forward, the Pay-Go legislation would have frozen the debt ceiling where it is.

Of course, Obama and company never had any intention of paying for the government's spending. Pay-Go was just for show, like the previous Pay-go legislation(s) that were passed. The Democrats are already trying to get around the Pay-Go legislation to pass their jobs bill. After all, six days ago was so...last week. The Hill reports, in a piece titled Pay-Go Gets Passed, Then Bypassed:

The ink is barely dry on the pay-as-you-go law, and Democrats are seeking to bypass it to enact parts of their job-creation agenda.

Democratic leaders said extensions of unemployment insurance and COBRA healthcare benefits should be emergency spending that isn’t subject to the pay-as-you-go statute, which requires new non-discretionary spending to be offset with spending cuts or tax increases.

With current extensions of unemployment and COBRA benefits set to expire at the end of the month and the jobless rate still near 10 percent, Democratic lawmakers want to pass the extensions quickly, without having to find offsets for the costs.

This year, facing record deficits and a debt that has exceeded $12 trillion, Democrats touted the new pay-go requirements as a necessary step to get spending under wraps. President Barack Obama signed the pay-go bill into law on Feb. 12 and Democrats are ready to waive those requirements to help get the economy going.

See, Democrats are all for Pay-Go, except when they aren't. It's complicated. Us average working schmoes probably don't have the Ivy League educations to understand it.

Republicans voted against the Pay-Go legislation, and were criticized by Democrats for being against the Dems fiscal responsibility that isn't. Here's one of those mean Republicans who is against imaginary fiscal responsibility:

Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) said Democrats’ move to bypass pay-go using emergency exemptions proves that the pay-go law is just a “political statement, not a substantive event.”

“They continue to claim some sort of fiscal discipline ... when in fact they basically keep spending money like drunken sailors,” Gregg said.

C'mon, Senator Gregg. No need to insult drunken sailors like that.

Not all Democrats are going along with bypassing the nearly week old Pay-Go legislation. There are some Democrats, a small minority known as Blue Dogs, who think legislation stating that federal spending will be paid for means....federal spending will be paid for. Liberal Democrats don't like these crazy Blue Dog varmints who think legislation should mean what it actually says. Here's one of the Blue Dogs:

Former Rep. Charlie Stenholm (D-Texas), a fiscally conservative Blue Dog and longtime champion of pay-go, said job-creation legislation should contain no exceptions to the pay-go restrictions. He urged lawmakers to find spending cuts to offset any new costs.

“You can find there are so many places in discretionary spending that have been increased tremendously over the last two three four years that can be cut,” said Stenholm, now a member of the Peterson-Pew Commission on Budget Reform and senior policy adviser at Olsson Frank Weeda.

Uh-oh. Did Stenholm just suggest that federal spending CUTS could pay for the jobs program ? No wonder liberals don't like Democrats like him. Liberals think the doubling of federal spending over the last few years only means that the government isn't spending ENOUGH. Liberals are fiscally wise like that.

But I have to give the government a little credit. It was a great six days of fiscal responsibility. After the jobs bill passes, maybe Obama and Congress can try real hard and enforce Pay-Go for a full week next time. Such men of principle. We're in good hands.

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