Fiscal responsibility will not be a priority of the incoming 111th Congress, the Wall Street Journal editorializes today:
As Congress gears up to pass another spending “stimulus” bill, there’s one political silver lining: Democrats are being forced to abandon the pretense of fiscal conservatism known as “pay as you go” budgeting.
Late last week the leader of the House Blue Dog Coalition, Tennessee Democrat Jim Cooper, announced that with Barack Obama about to enter the White House, “I’m not sure the old rules are relevant anymore.” Why not? Because, Mr. Cooper said, “It would be unfair to the new President to put him in a budget straitjacket.”
Democrats ran on “paygo” in 2006, promising to offset any new spending increases or tax cuts with comparable tax increases or spending cuts. Once in charge on Capitol Hill they quickly made exceptions, waiving paygo no fewer than 12 times to accommodate some $398 billion in new deficit spending — not that the press corps bothered to notice. That didn’t stop Majority Leader Steny Hoyer from announcing in May that “We’re absolutely committed to paygo. Speaker [Nancy Pelosi] is committed to paygo. I’m very committed to paygo. Our caucus is committed to paygo.”
Yet now Mr. Cooper is delivering official last rites, as the Washington spending machinery powers up in earnest. Paygo was always a big con designed not to reduce spending but to stop tax cuts. It was invented to stop the GOP Congress and then a Republican President, but it is inconvenient when Democrats run the show. With the recession available as an excuse for just about anything, get ready for the first $1 trillion federal budget deficit. And don’t expect any howling from the Blue Dogs.