House passes pay-as-you-go bill

Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 12:10am

UPDATE: The House passed PAYGO today 233-187. No Republicans voted for the bill. 

The on-again, off-again controversy of adding a pay-as-you-go rule to budgeting in Washington seems to finally be subsiding, as the House is expected Thursday to vote the rule back into law.

U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., said Wednesday he expects the House to pass PAYGO legislation, which would require any mandatory federal spending increases to be accounted for, both in the immediate and long term.

Cooper, a member of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition of Democrats and a co-sponsor of the PAYGO bill that passed the House in June, said he’s been disappointed in Congress for waiting as long as it has to pass the bill.

“Most every family budget is pay as you go, and the federal government should also live by that standard,” Cooper told The City Paper. “Congress has utterly failed in its responsibility to curb the federal debt and deficit.”

The pay-as-you-go rule initially passed the House last summer, and it appeared to be on track to pass the Senate with bipartisan support. However, as President Obama made public his endorsement of PAYGO, key Republicans backed off and the bill foundered. A slightly modified version passed the Senate last week, a day after the president made reference to his desire for the bill’s passage in his first State of the Union address.

Tennessee Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, both Republicans, voted against the legislation.

Although it existed before, President Clinton pushed PAYGO as part of a budget-balancing plan in the late 1990s. It passed in 1998; supporters attribute some of Clinton’s fiscal success to the policy. But that law expired in 2002.

The newly minted Democratic Congress passed a procedural rule that was principally the same in 2006, riding a wave of voter unease with government spending under the Bush administration. That rule, however, could be overturned by a majority vote in the House and 60 ayes in the Senate.

The biggest difference between the Clinton-era law and the one the House is expected to pass Thursday is that the current legislation would require spending initiatives to be deficit neutral over five and 10 years, not annually, according to information from the office of House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.

“I think it will mean more fiscal discipline,” Cooper said of PAYGO, adding he believes it was “tragic” to allow the original law to lapse in 2002. 

3 Comments on this post:

By: Kosh III on 2/4/10 at 7:20

"Tennessee Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, both Republicans, voted against the legislation"

So now we see that fiscal conservatism is no more than a convenient talking point. Hypocrites!

By: Marymeet on 2/4/10 at 11:24

Alexander and Corker are twin sons of different mothers. They spout only canned preapproved Republican messages. Of course they don't want pay as you go, it would mean being honest, citizen oriented and giving the back of their hands to corporations, just when the corporations can give them unlimited amounts for campaigning.

Way to go Rep. Cooper! Isn't it funny that a Democrat is a co-sponsor, a Democratic President has urged it passage and the Republicans don't want this bill to pass?

Want to bet the Republicans try to take credit for it eventually?

I am disgusted but not surprised.

By: WickedTribe on 2/6/10 at 2:57

At least the Republicans have stopped pretending to be anything besides the Party of No.

Sad thing is, they'll still elected.