Budget follies

Barack Obama was at it again Tuesday, highlighting his masterful ability to say one thing while actually doing something completely contradictory.

This time, the topic was again the budget. Remember a few months back when the president proposed the biggest spending plan — and the biggest deficits — in U.S. history while at the same time claiming to be in favor of “fiscal responsibility”?

Well, Mr. Obama was playing the same game this week, arguing that Congress must adapt “pay-as-you-go” budget rules.

“Entitlement increases and tax cuts need to be paid for,” he said. “They’re not free, and borrowing to finance them is not a sustainable long-term policy.”

This from a president who — when you throw in his inevitable effort to nationalize health care — would spend us into oblivion.

Yes the “paygo” rules — Congress can only spend a dollar if it saves or raises a dollar somewhere else — sound like good policy and generate applause lines. But they are, in fact, a sham and a recipe for massive tax hikes.

Congress already operates under some version of these rules. But members routinely find a way around them, and the rules don’t apply to all types of discretionary spending. And it literally takes years to kill even the most archaic, wasteful government program. Does anybody really think spending cuts will be the preferable option for meeting “paygo” demands?

Ultimately, the only thing “paygo” actually accomplishes is to give Democrats in Congress an excuse to oppose tax cuts while appearing to be fiscal watchdogs.

Even The Associated Press noted that Mr. Obama’s “paygo” proposal is “a watered down version of the … rules proposed just last month in his own budget plan.”

This is all about allowing Democrats and the president to have it both ways as they gradually push for more government control over the private economy. They can’t win elections as hyperliberal big spenders, so they create gimmicks such as “paygo” to convince voters they’re good stewards of taxpayer money — all the while spending at record levels.

“It’s as if the administration and these Democrat leaders are living in an alternate universe,” said House Republican Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia. “The quickest way to save money is to stop recklessly spending it.”

Indeed.

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