Friday, January 7, 2011

Here we go again...

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I've been meaning to blog about these GOP "cut-go" rules. What a scam! The name sounds like it might be similar to the "pay-go" rules of the Democrats. But whereas "pay-go" was designed to avoid increasing the deficit, "cut-go" seems to be designed to explode the deficit. It's basically a con on the American people.

Here's how TPM put it:
In 2007, just weeks after Republicans lost control of the House and Senate and six years after the first passel of Bush tax cuts were signed into law, Democrats made a key change to the budget rules to prevent that episode from repeating itself.

Republicans had used the budget reconciliation process -- immune from a filibuster -- to pass the cuts and explode the deficit: two things the reconciliation process was never meant to allow. To get away with it, Republicans were forced to include a 10-year sunset in package -- planting the seeds for the tax cut fight we just saw on Capitol Hill. After Dems wrested control of Congress, they banned the reconciliation loopholes used by the GOP altogether.

But as they return to power in the House of Representatives, Republicans are taking steps to unravel those changes.

And here's a more detailed explanation from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. An excerpt:
Current House rules include a pay-as-you-go requirement that any tax cut or spending increase for a mandatory (i.e., entitlement) program must be offset by cuts in other mandatory spending or increases in other taxes, in order to avoid increasing the deficit. Current rules also bar the House from using budget “reconciliation” procedures — special rules that facilitate speedy action on specified budget legislation — to pass bills that would increase the deficit. The new rules would alter and greatly weaken these commonsense measures ...

Sadly, we’ve been here before. In the 1990s, when pay-as-you-go rules applied to both spending increases and tax cuts and Congress used reconciliation solely to enact deficit-reduction packages, the country went from large deficits to a balanced budget. (A strong economy obviously helped as well.) But in the early 2000s, with Republicans controlling Congress and President Bush in the White House, Congress set aside pay-as-you-go and turned reconciliation on its head, using it not to reduce deficits but instead to push through costly, unpaid-for tax cuts in both 2001 and 2003. Previously, reconciliation had only been used for deficit reduction.

The results are plain to see. The Bush-era tax cuts were a significant factor in the return to large deficits after 2001, contributing $2.6 trillion (including added interest costs on the national debt) to the budgetary deterioration between 2001 and 2010. House Republicans now plan to restore the very type of permissive budget rules that contributed markedly to that fiscal deterioration.

Moreover, measures to scuttle the current, even-handed pay-as-you-go rule and to allow use of the reconciliation process to increase the deficit are even more indefensible today than such steps were in 2001 — because now we already have deficits that exceed $1 trillion a year.

Does anyone really think that Republicans care two hoots about the budget deficit? If so, why do they keep pushing measures to hugely increase the deficit? Why is it that only Democrats seem to fight to keep the deficit down, while Republican control inevitably means huge deficit increases?

And I was wondering what "cut-go" says about waging war, too. Much of our current deficit is the result of two idiotic wars Republicans started, without paying for them (remember how the Iraq War was going to "pay for itself"?). And caring for our maimed soldiers is going to be a necessary expense for generations.

Anyway, I thought Jon Stewart did a great job with that video clip. And here are a couple of cartoons that fit well in this post, too:

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