« Security Is Opprtunity | Main | Baucus. Max Baucus »

PAYGO!

There's a lot going on on Capitol Hill this week: the beginnings of an ugly-looking highway bill, the wrap-up of the ugly bankruptcy bill, the sudden possibility that the very ugly Mr. DeLay's reign of bribery and intimidation may be numbered, the Bolton nomination, the last gasp of Social Security.

One vote in the Senate will be of profound importance, however: On Wednesday, Senators Chafee and Feingold are expected to offer an amendment to the budget resolution restoring the "Pay-as-you-go" rules, known as PAYGO, which will require Congress to pay for any further tax cuts with offsetting tax increases or spending cuts. The budget resolution as passed by the Senate Budget Committee lasts week instructs the Senate Finance Committee to come back with tax cuts totaling $70 billion, which will add to the deficit.

If the PAYGO rules, which were rejected on a party-line vote in the Budget Committee, pass, those tax cuts will either have to be paid for, or they will be subject to a "point of order" in the Senate which will require 60 votes.

More likely, if the PAYGO amendment passes in the Senate, it will not pass in the House, and the two houses will not be able to agree on a budget resolution, which is not the end of the world. It happened last year. Without a budget resolution, though, there can't be a budget reconciliation bill. The effect is the same as having a budget resolution with PAYGO in it: Any further tax cuts will have to be subject to full debate in the Senate, and can't be rammed through with 50 votes.

Few things are more arcane than congressional PAYGO rules. And yet, little is more important, especially right now. A few weeks ago, in writing about Goldwater, I noted that the genius of Rove and his followers was that they had figured out how to separate the ideological conservatism that Americans liked from the operational conservatism -- the real cuts in government -- that Americans did not. PAYGO rules are a way of forcing those two back together. If Republicans are serious about cutting taxes and making government smaller, they must be willing to come forward simultaneously with the cuts they are willing to make and bear the consequences. Or, if they do not want to make cuts but still want to cut taxes for the top 0.2% of the population, they must be willing to say whose taxes they are willing to raise to pay for those cuts.

If you're still reading this, there's more on the PAYGO rules at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities site, and on the use of reconciliation to push through tax cuts here.

Like the bankruptcy bill, this is one of those things that most Senators assume no one pays attention to. A little bit of attention might make a real difference. It's probably the single most important vote in the budget process, because it sets a limit to just how much nefarious, dishonest tax-cutting is possible. So call your Senators and encourage them to vote with Feingold and Chafee on the PAYGO rules.

I also noted from Steve Clemons that the key votes on John Bolton's nomination to the U.N. happen to be Feingold and Chafee. So it might be worth a call to those two offices also. Tell the receptionist, "I want to thank Senator Chafee/Feingold for his leadership on honesty in our budget. And I'd also like to urge him to oppose John Bolton." Mix a little love in with the pressure -- it's a time-honored strategy.

Posted by Mark Schmitt on March 15, 2005 | Permalink

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341ce8a553ef00d83458832469e2

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference PAYGO!:

» Your spasm of activism. from Long story; short pier
By way of the Hellcat, here’s Patridiot Watch on the Democratic Party’s usurious credit card: Just a week after handing the Republicans and credit card companies a big win by restricting people’s rights to enter into bankruptcy, the ... [Read More]

Tracked on Mar 15, 2005 5:04:44 PM

» Feingold and Chaffee Are Senators... from Brad DeLong's Website
Mark Schmitt writes that Feingold and Chaffee are trying to do good this week. Let's salute them. We need more senators like this, and fewer who either have two faces or no sense of their responsibility to the country: The Decembrist: PAYGO!: There's a... [Read More]

Tracked on Mar 16, 2005 9:50:58 PM

» Delta Deficit Equals Zero from Threading the Needle
One of Bush's greatest achievements has been his ability to be all things to all people, especially with respect to fiscal policy. Somewhere along the line he realized (or, more accurately, Karl Rove realized) that fiscal conservatism presented certa... [Read More]

Tracked on Mar 17, 2005 1:32:07 AM

» Suicide rate falls to record low from rate in England
suicide rate in England is at its lowest in a century, official figures have shown. [Read More]

Tracked on Apr 21, 2006 9:04:43 AM

» Prices at the Pump Still Climbing? from alling Gas and
alling Gas and Crude Stockpiles Could Drive Retail Gas Prices Even Higher [Read More]

Tracked on Apr 28, 2006 3:13:48 AM

» Parker, Spurs Race Past Kings in Opener from of their NBA title
over the Sacramento Kings in the opener of their Western Conference first-round series [Read More]

Tracked on May 15, 2006 3:48:51 PM

» From Troubled Youth to English Lord from n American National
n American National Is Accused of Stealing the Identity of a Dead Baby [Read More]

Tracked on May 16, 2006 4:51:02 AM

» Bush admits broken border (Reuters) from National Guard
but he said millions of illegal immigrants should be given a chance to become citizens. [Read More]

Tracked on May 19, 2006 12:23:51 AM

» Wife's Tip Helps Tim Thomas from be matched up
He just considers his wife to be better, writes Doug Haller of THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC. After learning that [Read More]

Tracked on May 20, 2006 9:27:19 PM

» India - AIMMM deplores killings in Jammu, Afghanistan and Vadodra from expresses its
of 34 Hindus in two separate terrorist attacks over the last two days in Udhampur and Doda districts of Jammu and Kashmir.... [Read More]

Tracked on May 30, 2006 9:09:14 AM

» U.S. Military Denies New Abuse Allegations at Ishaqi from fficials Conclude
fficials Conclude Troops Followed Rules of Engagement [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 10, 2006 9:25:29 PM

» The Last Emerging Market from tame? A new U.K.
too tame? A new U.K. fund is seeking to invest in the Hermit Kingdom's mineral wealth [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 15, 2006 6:57:59 AM

» Stem Cells Found In Adult Skin Can Be Transplanted And Function In Mouse Models Of Disease from and the University
stem cells derived from adult skin can create neural cell types that can be transplanted into and function in mouse models of disease. This research [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 16, 2006 1:37:58 AM

» Teen Sentenced To Life For Killing Girlfriend's Parents from to subscribe.
outside of the United States, please contact All Headline News (AHN) sales via email at [email protected] AHN offers content [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 17, 2006 9:19:07 PM

» French parents fight against immigrants' expulsion from returns to the
family eats and sleeps -- and worries the police will come looking for her. [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 2, 2006 3:28:42 AM

» Thursday News Roundup from Strangely enough,
affected people in St. Louis, Oklahoma, and New York City. Strangely enough, Congress has responded by pushing [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 31, 2006 6:41:21 PM

Comments

Mr. Schmitt - "Chafee" has one "f."

Posted by: Dave M | Mar 15, 2005 3:11:14 PM

PAYGO is Graham-Rudman-Hollings redux. Could Phil Graham be taking back his party from the Bush hacks? Please tell me he is.

Posted by: pgl | Mar 15, 2005 4:49:11 PM

It's too much at once!! There is apparently also a vital vote Wednesday in a Senate committee to prevent drilling in the Alaskan wildlife refuge (if John Kerry and Robert Redfort's warm personal emails are to be believed).

Posted by: Nell Lancaster | Mar 15, 2005 5:41:20 PM

If the Dems are smart, they will build on the PAYGO theme for the rest of the year. Make a huge issue out of it. Pin the USA flag on it.

No PAYGO, No Bucks. And No Buck Rogers.

Posted by: Movie Guy | Mar 16, 2005 12:34:00 AM

I was at a reception last night where Barack Obama gave some remarks. They opened things up for questions afterwards, so I asked Obama whether he thought the Senate would agree to adopt the PAYGO rules set to be proposed today by Feingold/Chafee. He explained the concept to the room and said he doubted it would pass the Senate largely because Bush's proposed budget simply doesn't work under PAYGO rules. Guess we'll know soon enough.

Posted by: fnook | Mar 16, 2005 8:56:25 AM

I slapped together a post on the merits of PAYGO .

Basic idea: you can't limit spending with paygo rules unless the rules also apply to revenues, because there just isn't enough upside to voting against spending. If you want to limit spending, the rules have to be symmetrical.

Posted by: ChasHeath | Mar 16, 2005 12:28:03 PM