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White House

 

« Voight Rips Obama at GOP Fundraiser | Blog Home Page | Sotomayor Hearings To Start July 13 »

From Stimulus To Paygo

One day after announcing a ramping up of spending, President Obama today focused on efforts in his administration and by the Democrats in Congress to reinstitute fiscal discipline through the use of "paygo" rules.

"It is no coincidence that this rule was in place when we moved from record deficits to record surpluses in the 1990s - and that when this rule was abandoned, we returned to record deficits that doubled the national debt," he said in the East Room, speaking to an audience of Blue Dog Democrats.

When advised, the event was said to be focused on the role of paygo rules in entitlement reform. But the president only mentioned it briefly in that context: "Entitlement increases and tax cuts need to be paid for," he said. "Paying for what you spend is basic common sense. Perhaps that's why, here in Washington, it has been so elusive."

Instead, Obama used the event to rattle off a series of initiatives already announced that the White House has said will put a dent in the nation's deficit. He repeated that within four years, the deficit will be halved - though he did not address longer-term projections that show it increasing beyond one term.

He also announced that in the first round of TARP fund repayments, the government will turn a slight profit and the debt will drop $68 billion. He cautioned that there may be "some losses to the taxpayers" as other financial institutions repay government funds, however.

Some institutions have been eager to return the funds for some time, because of executive compensation and other restrictions on them. To them, Obama said: "The return of these funds does not provide forgiveness for past excesses or permission for future misdeeds. It is critical that as our country emerges from this period of crisis, that we learn its lessons."

Congress must still approve of the paygo rules; Obama noted that they passed in the last Congress, but were rejected by the White House. Republicans did not comment on paygo beyond noting what they see as contradictory messages.

"That is an interesting claim given that we have just gone through five months of historic spending of taxpayer dollars," House Minority Whip Eric Cantor said.