Diary

House Democrats Getting Worried About the Deficit

Of course, worrying about something and doing something about it are two very different things. But do you suppose Peter Orszag would be getting a grilling about the massive loopholes in PayGo if they weren’t worried about losing seats in 2010?

During the House Budget Committee hearing, Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) noted the exemptions will cost more than $3 trillion over 10 years. Policies that won’t be subject to pay-go restrictions under Obama’s bill include the extension of middle-class tax cuts enacted during the Bush administration, funds to keep the Alternative Minimum Tax from hitting middle-income Americans and Medicare payments to physicians…

Orszag said items were exempted because neither lawmakers nor the White House have come up with ways to pay for them. Those policies also have broad support from both Democrats and Republicans in Congress.

But Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) suggested lawmakers consider letting more of the tax cuts, championed by President George W. Bush, expire, and not just the ones for those Americans making more than $200,000.

“We’re basically pre-judging policy in favor of the Bush tax cuts and against other necessary measures,” Doggett told Orszag…

The Democrats’ commitment to fiscal discipline would be more believable if they didn’t carve out PayGo exemptions anytime it was hard to find a way to ‘pay for’ new spending – as Orszag does. Isn’t the point of PayGo that it (supposedly) forces legislators to suck it up and make difficult decisions about ‘paying for’ new spending? There’s no point to it if you only apply it to things that are easy to cover; it’s the hard ones that explode the deficit.

And it’s nice to see that some things never change. Faced with a deficit blown wide open by Barack Obama, Lloyd Doggett’s first instinct is to raise taxes. Anyone surprised?