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This Congress Has No Shame



Conn Carroll
Morning Bell, The Heritage Foundation
May 27, 2010

On February 4, 2010, pushing for passage of her pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) legislation, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said on the House floor: “When I became Speaker of the House, the very first day we passed legislation that made PAYGO the rule of the House. Today we will make it the law of the land. … So the time is long overdue for this to be taken for granted. The federal government will pay as it goes.” That was the promise. But here is the reality: in the three years that Speaker Pelosi has enforced her PAYGO rule, the House has violated it by nearly $1 trillion.

And now with the U.S. Debt Clock officially passing the $13 trillion milestone Wednesday, the House is set to violate their own PAYGO law yet again, this time to the tune of around $150 billion. The legislation clocks-in at almost one-fifth the size of President Barack Obama’s original $862 billion failed economic stimulus, and the leftist majority in Congress has titled it “The American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act.” And it is a tax-hiking, spending-exploding, job-killing, deficit-hiking wonder.

The Tax Hikes: The entire purpose of this bill was originally to extend some popular and well-established tax cuts that have been around for years but have to be reapproved every year. But being the big government lovers that they are, the left has crafted a bill that actually increases tax revenues by $57 billion over ten years. The biggest items are a job-killing tax on American corporations that compete overseas, a job-killing tax on innovation-creating venture capital partnerships, and a four-fold increase in the tax on oil production that ostensibly is supposed to go to the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, but is instead being siphoned off to help pay for completely unrelated new domestic spending.

The Spending: The bill originally clocked-in at almost $200 billion, and Democrats have since cut the spending to just under $150 billion, $95 billion of which will go straight onto our children’s credit card bill in flagrant violation of Congress’ own PAYGO rules. Goodies include $26 billion for infrastructure, more than $40 billion for yet another unemployment insurance extension, another $24 billion bailout of state Medicaid programs, $8 billion in needlessly expensive health insurance subsidies, and $2.5 billion for states to increase their welfare rolls. Even some Democrats are beginning to question the endless UI extensions, with Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper (D-PA) telling The Washington Post that businesses back home complain that they want to start hiring but are getting few applicants because Congress has repeatedly extended unemployment benefits.

And then there is what was originally the largest-ticket item in the bill: $65 billion over three and a half years for increasing physician Medicare reimbursements, aka the “doc fix.” This one item alone proves that all of President Barack Obama’s claims that his health care law reduces the deficit are 100% false. The CBO report this month estimated that $276 billion would be required to shore up the “doc fix” over the next decade. Adding that spending to Obamacare’s already $940 billion total would easily push it into the red. That is why Congress did not address the problem in Obamacare. Brandeis University professor Stuart Altman calls the “doc fix” charade “one of the worst pieces of legislation I’ve ever seen.” The House has cut this version of the “doc fix” down to $21.8 billion just through December 2011.

Across the country, millions of American families are struggling to make family budgets and keep to them. Not Congress. For the first time in the history of the budget process, the House of Representatives has failed to plan how they will spend your tax dollars. Instead they will recklessly continue to flagrantly violate their own PAYGO rules as they add billions and billions worth of debt onto your children. This Congress has no shame.

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