WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD) released the following statement tonight after a united Democratic Caucus, and 72 Republicans, defeated the Majority’s sham budget enforcement bill on a vote of 146-268. This bill would have required budget offsets (through “pay-as-you-go” or PAYGO budget rules) for mandatory spending increases but not tax cuts. This defeat was yet another embarrassment for House Republicans on the Fiscal Year 2005 Budget. For the first time in three decades, it appears that Congress will not adopt a budget when the House, Senate and White House are all controlled by the same political party:
“Tonight can aptly be called ‘Republican Budget Failure Redux.’ Republicans have followed their total lack of leadership on the most basic legislative duty – to adopt a budget for the nation – with a total lack of leadership on real budget enforcement legislation. Make no mistake, applying PAYGO rules to spending and taxes is critical to reining in record Republican budget deficits.
“Yet, the Republican leadership insisted on bringing a budget enforcement bill to the Floor that applied such rules to spending only. This bill was an irresponsible charade. Republican leaders rolled the dice on this bill, and they lost. What they should have done is work in a bipartisan manner to adopt real PAYGO rules that apply to both spending and taxes.
“Ironically, 193 Republicans did just that in 1997, voting for budget enforcement rules that required offsets for spending increases and tax cuts. Tonight, though, they denounced and opposed the Democratic substitute that was the virtual mirror image of that 1997 legislation. Voters should hold them responsible for this fiscal flip-flop as well as their support for policies that have turned record budget surpluses into deficits in just three and a half years.”
[The pay-as-you-go rules that served as the foundation for the fiscal discipline of the 1990s were a delicate balance that had bipartisan support. They required any increases in spending or decreases in revenue to be offset so that the deficit would not be increased. Limiting pay-as-you-go to mandatory spending is an incomplete solution that will only serve two ends: (1) direct more federal policy through the increasingly complex and targeted tax code; and (2) further erode the revenue stream that will force cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other programs that serve working Americans. In addition to House Republicans who supported PAYGO in 1997, President Bush supported applying such rules to taxes and spending in his first three budgets.]