PAYGO rules regularly broken

May 28, 2010

Back in March, Bankrupting America warned in an opinion-editorial that the Pay-as-you-go (or PAYGO) rules currently in effect in Congress, and frequently referred to as evidence of fiscal discipline, would be broken regularly in the name of “emergency.” Well, it looks as though that prediction is coming true.

Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal reported that in the last three years, PAYGO has been violated by $1 trillion.

The Hill, a newspaper that covers Capitol Hill, reported Tuesday that Democrats plan to add $50 billion in domestic spending to an appropriations bill meant to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Included in that $50 billion is $5.7 billion for Pell Grants to college students and $9 billion in loans for renewable energy projects. According to an editorial this week in USA Today, much of this spending would be exempt from the PAYGO rules because it would fall into the “emergency” category. As the article helpfully reminds us, “the dictionary defines emergency as ‘a sudden, generally unexpected occurrence.’”

It’d be hard to argue that anything in this bill can be categorized as a “generally unexpected occurrence.” After all, the President submitted his budget request just three months ago and none of this funding was included.

Though we disagree with USA Today’s approval of tax increases to pay for this new spending (those could kill any recovery that may be underway), if really an “emergency,” the package should be paid for through cuts to other non-essential programs.

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