Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 29, 2010

PAYGO.... In case we needed additional evidence that bipartisanship is pretty much impossible, we got some yesterday.

The Senate took a vote on extending the federal debt ceiling -- without which the United States would go into default. All 40 Republicans voted no.

The Senate took a vote on requiring Congress not to pass legislation that it can't pay for. All 40 Republicans voted no.

The Senate took a final vote on passing the overall plan. Thirty-nine Republicans voted no. The 40th, Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), skipped the vote.

The paygo vote was especially ridiculous. The idea is to "impose a requirement that key parts of the budget must be paid for with spending cuts or tax increases to prevent the federal deficit from increasing." It's known as the pay-as-you-go approach, or "paygo" -- if policymakers are going to increase spending or cut taxes, they have to figure out a way to pay for it at the time.

A similar rule was in place during the Clinton era, when the deficit was eliminated altogether. Republicans -- you know, the ones who claim to have the high ground on fiscal responsibility -- scrapped paygo in 2002. Soon after, GOP policymakers stopped trying to pay for their policies, and Republicans quickly added $5 trillion to the national debt, and left a $1.4 trillion deficit for Democrats to clean up.

As part of the effort to address the GOP's mess, Democrats have embraced paygo as a matter of common sense. President Obama, in his State of the Union address, urged Congress this week to "restore the pay-as-you-go law that was a big reason for why we had record surpluses in the 1990s."

Just a few years ago, a handful of Senate Republicans -- Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, George Voinovich, and John McCain -- argued that paygo should be brought back. They were unsuccessful in persuading their Republican colleagues at the time, and yesterday, they voted with their Republican colleagues to reject the idea that they'd already embraced.

And that, in a nutshell, is why the notion of bipartisanship with a failed and discredited minority is so hard to take seriously. GOP lawmakers are so reflexive in saying "no" to everything, they end up opposing ideas they support, and at that point, reason has no meaning.

Steve Benen 8:35 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (32)

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Comments

Fortunately for the GOP, no Democrat will have the wits to make hay of this vote. The campaign ads write themselves...and then the Democratic caucus accidentally leaves the copy on the top of the car and drives away.

Posted by: allen on January 29, 2010 at 8:37 AM | PERMALINK

In spite of all the stupidity demonstrated by the GOP on a daily basis, there is nothing that gets this Republican's attention faster than this single act of fiscal insanity. If the Dems don't hammer this home every time the GOP even suggests the Dems are solely responsible for the current debt crisis, then forever STFU !!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Chopin on January 29, 2010 at 8:44 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, what they said!

Posted by: bleh on January 29, 2010 at 8:49 AM | PERMALINK

But, but, but they didn't filibuster. That must be proof of their good intentions and bipartisanship.

Posted by: martin on January 29, 2010 at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK

It's quite pointless to talk about bipartisanship when there's no margin between the parties. Any Republican Senator who can count to forty (and I'll assume, for the sake of argument, that this is something they all can do) can see that if Republicans don't stick together they will be completely irrelevant.

Posted by: MattF on January 29, 2010 at 9:02 AM | PERMALINK

Perhaps at some point in the near future, Obama et al. will realize that there will be no bipartisanship.

Most of us realize this a year ago.

I hate to say this, but Bush's way of doing things--ramming them through, twisting/breaking arms, etc.--appears to be the only way to get anything done.

Can Dems to that? Will they do that? This is the New American Century, and this is How Things Are Done now.

Posted by: terraformer on January 29, 2010 at 9:04 AM | PERMALINK

The MSM and the assholish pundits will spin it this way:

Democrats , once again, fail to obtain bipartisnship on an important bill. Polls clearly state that the electorate wants the congress to work together. The bill would have forced the congress to find a way to pay for it's programs without adding to the already sky rocketed deficit. John McCain said that the President needs to cut taxes and end the inheritance tax in order to pay for the expensive bills like the ones that would be created if Health care were to be enacted. The bill, McCain said, would cost the people of the United States trillions over 10 years. GOP leadership is lamenting that the democrats are not listening to their ideas of how to bring the deficit down and point to the major political losses in Massacheusits, Virginia and New Jersey as proof that the American people do not favor Obama's socialist agenda.

Posted by: Stevio on January 29, 2010 at 9:05 AM | PERMALINK

Got to ask the obvious question here:
Will the democrats now be required to raise taxes to pay for the wars? If not, is military spending exempt from Pay Go? And if so, then Pay Go is nothing more than symbolic posturing, which the dems are just as good at as the reps.

Posted by: lou on January 29, 2010 at 9:08 AM | PERMALINK

At some point when do people stop blaming democrats for not getting the message across but rather blame the public for being so woefully uninformed. It's not like the vote is secret or that it's not reported anywhere. it's not like Obama didn't urge congress to pass this bill?

For all of you worried about Obama's continued outreach to republicans - I think that this has changed a bit from being a genuine attempt at outreach to now being an exercise in giving them enough rope to hang themselves with before November.

I would also say that this outreach/rope giving exercise is precisely what so many of Obama's supporters loved about the idea of negotiating with Iran and other 'enemy' countries.

Posted by: homerhk on January 29, 2010 at 9:09 AM | PERMALINK

Don't worry, I'm sure McCain will be grilled on the obvious inconsistency the next time he's on a Sunday talk show.

Posted by: Basilisc on January 29, 2010 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

At some point when do people stop blaming democrats for not getting the message across but rather blame the public for being so woefully uninformed.

I blame both of them. I also blame the media for ignoring the Democratic message while touting GOP talking points 24/7. Okay?

Posted by: allen on January 29, 2010 at 9:13 AM | PERMALINK

I wonder how this vote is being spun on CNN and Morning Joe?

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 29, 2010 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

Allen, I appreciate the sharing of blame! What more do you think that the dems or Obama can do?

Posted by: homerhk on January 29, 2010 at 9:18 AM | PERMALINK

No, opening negotiations with foreign opponents is not akin to reaching out to those who can and wish to destroy you internally.

While, apparently, taking time from his "three dimensional chess" thinking, Obama and Rahm E are emulating Charlie Brown on the field of football.

Posted by: berttheclock on January 29, 2010 at 9:18 AM | PERMALINK

Don't worry, I'm sure McCain will be grilled on the obvious inconsistency the next time he's on a Sunday talk show.

Posted by: Basilisc on January 29, 2010 at 9:12 AM

Surely you jest.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 29, 2010 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK

At some point when do people stop blaming democrats for not getting the message across but rather blame the public for being so woefully uninformed.

We can blame the public if we like but that isn't going to be particularly helpful politically. Its a politicians job to communicate and sell their ideas. Coming to the conclusion that people are too stupid to buy what you are selling basically by definition means that you have given up on politics and the democratic process.

Posted by: brent on January 29, 2010 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

Frankly it is time somebody started blaming the Republicans. Maybe, just maybe, one of the corporate stenographers on Sunday news could ask Preident McCain this Sunday (he is on isn't he?)why he votes against positions he ordinarily champions. Naw, George, and the gang only ask President McCain what he tells them to ask.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 29, 2010 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

Ron - I do. My "sarcasm" tag isn't working right now for some reason.

Posted by: Basilisc on January 29, 2010 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

Basilisc, sorry I called you Surely.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 29, 2010 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

Paygo is just a thinly disguised attempt by democrats to raise taxes. Why the republicans never attempted a filibuster is beyond me, but I suppose McConnell's rationale is to allow the democrats some bipartisan breathing room.

Posted by: MynameisAL on January 29, 2010 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

Well, of course the Republicans voted no. If your primary goal is to destroy the United States government, then you're obviously not going to want legislation that allows that government to operate effectively and responsibly.

Posted by: josef on January 29, 2010 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

Everyone knows that reducing the federal deficit is the most important task faced by our legislators; when there is a democrat in the White House.

Everyone also knows that the way to reduce the deficit is to cut taxes on the wealthy; which increases federal revenues.

Therefore, as tax increases would become more likely with this legislation, it is not hypocritical for our republican senators to vote against it.

For all who protest that the last 30 years of cutting taxes for the wealthy did not increase federal revenues and lower the deficit; you just fail to realize that taxes on the wealthy were insufficiently cut.

Long live Ronald Reagan and his legacy of balancing the budget by decreasing taxes!!!

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on January 29, 2010 at 9:41 AM | PERMALINK

Time to start out and out and immediately ridiculing folks like Bayh, Landrieu, Nelson, Lie-berman (and any Republican) whenever they start talking about bipartisan solutions to anything.

Posted by: bubba on January 29, 2010 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

terraformer writes:"Bush's way of doing things--ramming them through, twisting/breaking arms, etc.--appears to be the only way to get anything done."

-Please join me in a chorus of (sung to Dire Straits I want my MTV)

I WANT MY L. B. J. . .

Posted by: DAY on January 29, 2010 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

It all comes down to the concept of Strategic Deficit. David Stockman. And it's worked for the GOP for years.

Posted by: Noam Sane on January 29, 2010 at 9:57 AM | PERMALINK

As the democrats voted yesterday to raise the federal debt limit to $14.3T, it is time to reflect upon the insanity of what the dems are doing to our country.

Everyone knows that all of the federal debt accumulated by our country has occurred in the last year since The Chosen One became president. Well, except for the people who know that the federal debt limit was under $6T when George became president and was $12+T when he left office. But that was obviously Clinton's fault, so we can ignore that.

As many of our republican funded think tanks have proclaimed, the best proposals to reduce our federal debt are:
1) Eliminate income taxes on the wealthy (said by Senator McCain to be $5M a year in income) as they are the job creators for our economy and we know this will increase federal revenues.
2) Raise income taxes on all of the parasites in our country (who make less than $250K a year).
3) Default on the $3+T in bonds in the Social Security Trust Fund.
4) Raise the social security tax rate (of course without raising the cap on which these taxes are collected)
5) Raise the age at which people who should be working can become parasites drawing from social security.

A modification of an idea recently proposed by a democrat senator would be to sell Patriot Bonds with a low rate of interest. This would assure that only idiots and fools (our republican voter base) would buy them. Then, when we have sold $3T of these bonds, we could default on them also.

The above measures would fairly quickly reduce our federal debt by about half!

We should and can time all of these to 2012, so that in 2013 when we republicans regain the presidency and can again rightfully rule this country; deficit spending will no longer matter.

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on January 29, 2010 at 9:57 AM | PERMALINK

This goes well beyond party discipline; I wonder who the arm-twister is these days? Mitch McConnell? He's not a very scary-looking guy - at least Tom DeLay looked like he could beat the shit out of you if you didn't cast a party-line vote. I wonder what some of these individuals are being promised in exchange for votes that plainly fly in the face of reason. They certainly don't believe that twaddle about Obama leading the country into socialism, do they? In my experience, Republicans were always like pushers - happy to get the public addicted, but smart enough not to use their own product.

Posted by: Mark on January 29, 2010 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

RepublicanPointofView at 9:57 am was oen of the funniest things I have read in a long time. But also saddest because it is true.

Posted by: CalStateDisneyland on January 29, 2010 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

Allen, I appreciate the sharing of blame! What more do you think that the dems or Obama can do?

Are you kidding me? "What more" when they haven't even started? How about actually furthering the message when they do get the mic? Do you see any message unity among the Dems/president you do see on your TV? Um, no. Do you see any message unity among Dem caucus websites, mailers, press statements? Um, no. What you see is missed opportunity after missed opportunity.

Posted by: allen on January 29, 2010 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

Voinovich is retiring, and Snowe has the safest seat in the Senate. You don't get whipping this good anywhere west of Westminster.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on January 29, 2010 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

Can everyone take a moment to step out of their political biases and notice how against logic each of your stances are.

Democrats:
Do not act as if this legislation will benefit the economy the way it is written. This proposal (now Executive Order) not only disregards generational theft so that the payment can be left for latter generations' taxes but it allows the government to raise taxes in order to create benefits. If you take a moment to look back in history and see that not only does raising taxes take money away from the economy because it discourages people from spending, it also increases the need for government spending because less people are receiving benefits from outside sources other than the government.

Republicans:
If you are ignoring the importance of this proposal then your party lines are too strict. Any step towards a cap on government spending is not only needed it is vital. It is common sense that the federal deficit will exponentially increase due to the increase of government spending the current majority is passing. If you are fighting this proposal to protect the rights of people and limit the size of government then do not refute the proposal, change it.

Solutions:
All of you are blaming the other party like five year olds on the playground. Government spending is like a broken swing, either way the swing is broken and you share the swing. You share the government and it is broken so stop ganging up on each other and make actual progress. Also Obama is not making efforts towards the Republican party. None of us are stupid and we all no a false appearance when we see one. Enact this proposal but revise it. Make this proposal so that it cannot raise taxes on a specific group of people without cutting their tax in another area. The only way to cap the spending is to actual cap the money used. For every bill passed there must be a budget cut elsewhere, not an increase in taxes because every fifth grade social studies student can tell you that the more money government removes from economy the less money left in the economy and more in the government.

Please stop blaming each other and from the eyes of a fifteen year old who does not have the priviledge to vote, make a difference your voice is a gift not a ticket to join a clique.

Posted by: Haley on March 28, 2010 at 8:53 PM | PERMALINK

Allen, I appreciate the sharing of blame! What more do you think that the dems or Obama can do?

Are you kidding me? "What more" when they haven't even started? How about actually furthering the message when they do get the mic? Do you see any message unity among the Dems/president you do see on your TV? Um, no. Do you see any message unity among Dem caucus websites, mailers, press statements? Um, no. What you see is missed opportunity after missed opportunity.

Nice thanx

Posted by: علماء الآثار on June 11, 2010 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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