The man who appears to be the inevitable next speaker of the House, John Boehner, gave some indications to the American Enterprise Institute as to some of the ideas the GOP has for trimming budgets last month. Some of them sound like run of the mill common sense, for example breaking up giant appropriation bills into separate votes for each agency getting funded, and having bills be available publicly for at least three days (I’d give it two weeks or more frankly… with how long and convoluted bills are anymore).
But the big ticket item is his replacement for the bait and switch game the democrats like to call PayGo. PayGo is of course short for pay as you go, although maybe they took out the middle part so they didn’t have to actually… you know… pay as you go. For a rule that is supposed to mean they actually do pay as you go, meaning you have to cut spending to offset new spending, or tax more to offset new spending, its hard to see how they can use that moniker, with all of the exceptions they make.
In fact, as with several other key campaign promises Obama made in his run for the presidency, the PayGo rules that Congress has been working with are anything but clear cut requirements for offsetting new spending. Even the Brookings Institution, a left leaning think tank, came to the conclusion that all of the exemptions cover “most of the major causes of fiscal deterioration over the next decade.”
For example,democrats didn’t want to find offsets for COBRA and unemployment extensions earlier this year, so they waited until the last minute, even though they knew the issue was coming up far in advance, and then labeled it an emergency. In this last word is the rub. Democrats made it so they could label just about anything as emergency spending, making the PayGo rule really just partisan spin meant to make it sound like they were being serious about our debt. Clearly the American people have not been fooled.
Now the republicans are coming back with their own version of the deficit bait and switch game. Without seeing the actual proposals, we’ll not know exactly how it will work when the rubber hits the road, but from what is currently being reported the GOP would like CutGo to require offsets for any spending increases… but not for tax cuts. Clearly that magical voodoo economics pool of money that appears to offset tax cuts is finally here… somewhere… after similar claims were proven false during the heavy deficit spending years of Reagan and Dubya.
Oh, and surprise of all surprises… it appears that the GOP may be backing off of it’s earmark ban now that it will be getting some more power.
Read more of Solomon's work at Rise of the Center