Statement ● Fiscal Responsibility
For Immediate Release: 
February 4, 2010
Contact Info: 
Katie Grant
Stephanie Lundberg
(202) 225 - 3130

View video of this statement. 

WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor today in support of statutory “pay-as-you-go” (PAYGO). Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“The House has just voted that our country should pay the bills it has already incurred. Those obligations come from actions America has already taken, which cannot be changed. But we can and must confront our record debt going forward. We can and must set a more responsible path for our country.
“A New York Times analysis found that 90% of our deficit is due to the policies of the previous administration, the extension of those policies, and the economic downturn. But however we believe America got into this mess, this Congress can begin getting America out of it. That is why Congress must pass one of the most proven deficit-cutting tools we know—statutory pay-as-you-go legislation, or ‘PAYGO.’
“PAYGO compels Congress to find savings for the money it spends—so it keeps our deficit from increasing. Under PAYGO, we’ll be required to find savings to balance any new tax cuts or entitlement spending—which makes this law essential to the wise prioritization that responsible budgeting demands. As the Concord Coalition, a bipartisan fiscal responsibility group, put it: ‘PAYGO requires anyone proposing tax cuts or entitlement expansions to answer the question: ‘How would you pay for it?’ Going through this process would force an explicit trade-off between spending, taxes and debt, which is exactly the priority-setting exercise that the budget process should facilitate.’
“We all know that such deliberate priority-setting stops us from passing our bills onto our children. Under President Clinton, PAYGO helped turn record deficits into a $5.6 trillion projected surplus over ten years. We also know that PAYGO was disregarded, waived, and finally allowed to expire under President Bush—and our deficits grew out of control.
“Some argue that the PAYGO legislation on the floor today is too weak; but I’d point out that it brings our country more fiscal discipline than it has seen in nearly a decade. PAYGO can’t get us out of our fiscal hole, but it can keep us from digging it any further.
“When my Republican colleagues raise their concerns about our growing debt, I absolutely agree with them. But it is not enough to complain about the debt—we have to do something about it. If my colleagues are sincere in their concerns, I hope they will work with us to pass PAYGO and contribute to the bipartisan fiscal commission announced by President Obama.
“America’s dangerous fiscal condition threatens our prosperity and our place in the world. If my colleagues will forgive a Democrat for paraphrasing Ronald Reagan, there are no easy answers to this mess—but there is a simple answer. The answer lies in recommitting ourselves to the principle that has served our prosperity so well in the past: the principle of responsibility.”