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Apparently Budgetary Tradeoffs Don’t Apply to New Presidents

Posted By Stephen Keen On November 12, 2008 @ 5:51 pm In Ongoing Priorities | Comments Disabled

Has the Blue Dog Coalition given up on their version of fiscal responsibility? Jim Cooper (D-TN), leader of the Blue Dogs – the self-described fiscally-conservative group of congressional Democrats [1]was quoted in a Wall Street Journal op-ed announcing [2], “I’m not sure the old rules are relevant anymore… It would be unfair to the new President to put him in a budget straitjacket.” This effectively kills any plans for PAYGO budgeting in the 111th Congress. Apparently budgetary trade-offs no longer apply when liberals occupy the oval office.

Interestingly enough it was the President-elect himself who illustrated budget trade-offs best. During the second presidential debate, Senator Obama responded [3]to a question regarding the candidate’s handling of taxpayer money saying:

Well, look, I understand your frustration and your cynicism, because while you’ve been carrying out your responsibilities — most of the people here, you’ve got a family budget. If less money is coming in, you end up making cuts. Maybe you don’t go out to dinner as much. Maybe you put off buying a new car. That’s not what happens in Washington. And you’re right. There is a lot of blame to go around.

PAYGO [4] attempts to force Congress to make those tough budgeting decisions. Although PAYGO is not the most effective tool for reining in runaway spending and deficits [5], it is clear that some type of budget constraint [6]is necessary.

When it was politically advantageous, the Blue Dogs were PAYGO’s principal supporter. Following the 2006 mid-term elections they issued a press release proudly declaring [7], “We heard the message the country sent to Congress in November and that’s why passing PAYGO budget rules to stop any new deficit spending is a first step to getting our country back on track fiscally.”

Unfortunately, when the hard decisions came the Blue Dogs surrendered, voting 12 times for a total of over $398 billion in new deficit spending. Now they plan to abandon it completely.

The WSJ op-ed describes [2]the Blue Dogs decision to ditch PAYGO well:

PAYGO was always a big con designed not to reduce spending but to stop tax cuts. It was invented to stop the GOP Congress and then a Republican President, but it is inconvenient when Democrats run the show. With the recession available as an excuse for just about anything, get ready for the first $1 trillion federal budget deficit. And don’t expect any howling from the Blue Dogs.

The federal deficit for 2008 is $455 billion, rising from 1.2 percent of GDP in 2007 to 3.2 percent of GDP in 2008 [8]. After the elections the Blue Dogs should have an even louder voice. Why aren’t they preaching PAYGO now?


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URL to article: http://blog.heritage.org/2008/11/12/apparently-budgetary-tradeoffs-don%e2%80%99t-apply-to-new-presidents/

URLs in this post:

[1] the self-described fiscally-conservative group of congressional Democrats : http://www.house.gov/ross/BlueDogs/

[2] was quoted in a Wall Street Journal op-ed announcing: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122628143512612399.html

[3] Senator Obama responded : http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/10/08/politics/2008debates/main4508405.shtml

[4] PAYGO: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PAYGO

[5] PAYGO is not the most effective tool for reining in runaway spending and deficits: http://www.heritage.org/Research/Budget/wm685.cfm

[6] some type of budget constraint : http://www.heritage.org/Research/Budget/bg1793.cfm

[7] a press release proudly declaring: http://www.house.gov/ross/BlueDogs/Press%20Releases/Blue%20Dog%20Democrats%20Hail%20Key%20Measures.html

[8] 2008 is $455 billion, rising from 1.2 percent of GDP in 2007 to 3.2 percent of GDP in 2008: http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/99xx/doc9912/11-2008-MBR.pdf

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