As one of its first acts, the new Republican majority in the House of Representatives decided to do away with the “pay-go” rule instituted by House Democrats, in favor of something called “cut-go.” Under pay-go, legislation that added to the deficit needed to be offset with either spending cuts or revenue increases elsewhere. Under cut-go, however, new spending can only be offset with spending cuts (which means that no new revenue is allowed, even from closing something like a corporate tax loophole), while new tax cuts are allowed to be deficit-financed.
Republicans have been very clear about how this works. In Congressional Quarterly today, Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) tried to justify the change by saying, “I’ve never felt that letting people keep more of their own money should be in the same category as (government) spending more of their money.” But the distinction has evidently been lost on MSNBC, which today ran a segment on the new Congress with the chyron “GOP Requiring All Bills Be Paid For”:
“Just a quick note for the DC press corps,” Kevin Drum wrote yesterday. “Republicans don’t care about the deficit. They care about cutting taxes on the rich and shifting spending from the poor to more deserving corporate recipients.”
Not only did House Republicans craft their new rules to allow for unlimited deficit-financed tax cuts, they also immediately exempted their very first bill — repeal of the Affordable Care Act — from their cut-go rule, as such repeal would increase the deficit by $230 billion over ten years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
House Republicans have made it abundantly clear with their initial actions that they have no intention of actually paying for any tax cuts they want to implement, no matter the effect on the deficit. Explaining something in a seven word chyron can be difficult, but this particular one was an outright falsehood.