The Paygo Fraud

The Paygo Fraud

By Jay Ambrose - March 5, 2010

When a White House statement refers to a "bedrock principle," it means something slushy and soft and not really a principle at all, but a gimmick, still one more fraud to fool the public, a joke of the kind that must keep presidential aides rolling on the floor in laughter at all the fools who cheer them on.

The "principle" referred to was what would bind Congress if it passed a pay-as-you go law: It could then "only spend a dollar if it saves a dollar elsewhere." But when the legislation actually became law and Sen. Jim Bunning of Kentucky tried to have Congress observe its provisions, the Democrats were outraged and Vice President Joe Biden portrayed the Republican in one reported interview as inhumane.

At a cost of $10 billion, the legislation extended unemployment and Cobra health benefits. Fine, said Bunning. Let's do this thing. But first, under this new law, we either have to cut some equivalent cost or raise taxes to pay for it, he said. At this point came the deluge: Biden, Democratic members of Congress and lefty commentators all over the lot carried on about how he was going to make families suffer for the sake of, well, in so many words, his ideological idiocy and lack of compassion.

He was doing no such thing, of course, and it wasn't his fault either when the government said it would find the money for these new benefits by furloughing federal workers with no compensation and would stop reimbursing state highway projects. This move was a despicable ploy to put pressure on Bunning instead of admitting the truth that those standing in the way of the benefits were those reneging on a promise to abide by the White House-enunciated, "bedrock" paygo principle.

As virtually any budget expert could tell you, finding a reasonable, nation-profiting $10 billion cut in the pile of bloat, waste, mismanagement and mistakes we call the federal budget is simplicity itself. And in fact, an idea came up -- get rid of a special interest tax break for makers of an alternative fuel that some say would be made with no such subsidy. But according to the Washington Post, Democrats were eyeing that savings for something else down the pike, and after Bunning gave up his filibuster for a vote on ending the subsidy now, the Senate turned thumbs down.

The special sadness in all of this is the hypocrisy of a president who just recently sold paygo as a mighty step toward fiscal responsibility. Not only was Biden then turned loose on an honest man trying to make paygo work, but the whole paygo law is by and large a con game to begin with. It can be waived with flimsy excuse and seems to exempt virtually every other budgetary sentence that begins with a capital and ends with a period. Even if it were religiously heeded, the budget could be swamped by the costs of the exceptions.

The benefits extension was itself portrayed an exemption, but even some Democratic senators had their doubts on that score, and at any rate, we absolutely have to begin doing something about federal spending. George W. Bush was a big spender, but hardly the last of them: A think tank analyst points out that President Obama increased the federal budget in his first year by about as much as Bush in eight. The stimulus bill alone cost as much as the Iraq war. Obama's latest budget is for $3.8 trillion with a deficit of $1.56 trillion. He has raised the debt ceiling some $2 trillion to $14.3 trillion, and Investor's Business Daily says the projected $45 trillion in spending this coming decade will be a much as all U.S. budgets from the beginning of the Republic in the 18th century to 2006.

We are faced with calamity, and the Obama administration plays games with words while Congress cannot even offset new benefits with a $10 billion savings?

It's time to start worrying, fellow Americans. Really worrying.

Scripps Howard News Service

Jay Ambrose

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