Jefferson's democracy

Franklin Jefferson's thoughts on the world

Monday, April 03, 2006

Hypocrites in the house

In one day, the House budget committee finalized the 2.8 trillion dollar U.S. budget, with almost no debate. But representative Dennis Moore made an interesting suggestion: fiscal responsibility:

from the Olympian online:

... Moore and other Democrats were trying to reimpose the budget rule known as “pay-go.” That requirement simply says any spending increase or tax cut be offset by a comparable saving in order to avoid increasing the deficit, unless a supermajority of 60 percent of the lawmakers voted to make an exception.

[note that this doesn't forbit deficit spending-- it just means that the legislators who vote for it need to go on record as approving it. What we call "accountability."]

The rule was in effect from 1991 to 2002 and contributed directly to whittling away the deficits and moving the budget into surplus. But when Bush became president, Congress discarded the rule — an action that Alan Greenspan and many other fiscal conservatives deplored.

In the Senate on March 14, Democrats tried to revive the rule, and failed on a 50-50 tie vote. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, the Republican chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, led the effort to defeat it, arguing that it would inevitably force a tax increase. Gregg was not the least embarrassed when Sen. Kent Conrad, the North Dakota Democrat who offered the amendment to bring back “pay-go,” quoted Gregg’s own words from a 2002 debate.

Four years ago, Gregg said: “If we do not do this, if we do not put back in place caps and pay-go mechanisms, we will have no budget discipline in this Congress, and, as a result, we will dramatically aggravate the deficit
, which, of course, affects a lot of important issues,
but especially impacts Social Security.”

When Conrad quoted those words, Gregg replied: “I was right then [to support fiscal responsibility] and I am right now [to oppose it]. Times change, and the dynamics of what is happening around here change substantively.”

[The only "substantive" change is that now the Republicans control the checkbook, they want to borrow borrow borrow spend spend spend without accountability.]

That argument was replayed in the House Budget Committee, with Republicans unanimously opposing the reimposition of the pay-go rule, while Democrats supported it.

Back in 1991, in his first year in Congress, Nussle was a budget hawk, even proposing that lawmakers’ salaries be cut 5 percent every year they tolerated a deficit of any size.

This year, in his final year as Budget Committee chairman, he sent the House a fiscal plan that — by his staff’s optimistic forecast — would add $3 trillion dollars to the national debt in the next five years and boost the annual interest payments by 35 percent during that period.

Jim Nussle and Judd Gregg are not alone. The budget policies that conservatives and Republicans are swallowing these days are policies you would think would cause them to gag.

No wonder they’d rather be home campaigning.


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