This is what I'm talking about. As noted in the story, the President's initial budget proposal had a similar provision, but tougher provision. This is the type of rational thinking that can win over the American people, change the way government works, and put us on a path back to balanced budgets and rational debt (at the very least).
The President's plan calls for all spending legislation to be accounted for and covered in the next decade. His initial plan called for paying for it in the same year, but that was booted. This softer, gentler version should be a no-brainer to pass. If you can vote for the legislation to spend tax dollars surely you can account for a way to pay for it over the course of the next decade. It this type of rational budgeting that really would be change we can believe in and shut up the political talking point that this administration is mortgaging our future. Of course it can already be pointed out that the President offered a tougher proposal in his budget to pay as we go, but now this one is highlighted and already Republicans are attacking the messenger in the classic fallacy of those without a leg to stand on argumentatively:
"It's as if the administration and these Democrat leaders are living in an alternate universe," said House Republican Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia. "The quickest way to save money is to stop recklessly spending it."
This is a perfect time for Representative Cantor to tell us how the President's proposal will aide in reckless spending? Won't forcing Congress to pay for every dollar spent mean that A) They won't spend as much and B) What they spend won't be reckless because by definition it will be planned and paid for?
Sure this is not the best pay as you go legilsation, but as I have already mentioned twice, the President tried a tougher measure that was shot down in his budget. I would personally support a Balanced Budget amendment similar to the ones that constrain state governments.
My feeling is that Republicans won't be the major obstacle on pay as you go except for political reasons. They don't want the President to outflank them and strip them of a talking point. But at the end of the day they can't attack the president on spending and then vote against a pay as you go measure. Rather the real heat will come from Democrats.
I warn my fellow Democrats that this is not the time to embrace the spending habits of Bush/Delay/Frist/Rove etc... Just because we have taken power does not mean we should abuse it or consider ourselves secure on the throne. One way we gained power was advocating fiscal responsibility. Howard Dean was one of the fiercest advocates on this matter.
I want to make a couple of points to head off any concern or talking point against the president's plan.
- Fiscal Responsibility is not the same is cutting spending. It simply implies paying for what you need and want. There is no honor in accounting tricks or reckless deficit spending. That is the way of priming the economic pump like George W. Bush. You can be an advocate for health care reform, environmental reform, and infrastructure spending and be an advocate for fiscal responsibility. So this is not the President selling out liberals or throwing us under the bus to triangulate. We as a party ran on fiscal responsibility and the President repeatedly campaigned on paying as we go.
- Deficits are not completely crippling, but they do matter. Reagan did not prove that deficits don't matter. Rather he proved they can be smoked and mirrored for a while, but eventually matter (ask George H.W. Bush). Deficits are like problems in a marriage. Every marriage has problems. But problems not dealt with over time will destroy the marriage. Manageable deficits for necessities can be handled, but deficits of astronomical measures ignored over a long period can cripple an economy and no matter how much one wishes to ignore them they will return to bite you in the ass.
I hope that we all can get behind the President on this tenet of the party. Fiscal Responsibility is a political winner and a necessity.