DeLay Versus Fiscal Responsibility

In a recent interview with the Washington Times, House Majority leader Tom DeLay praised himself for having “started an effort to redesign the Appropriations Committee to make it harder to spend — to make it easier to spend on our priorities and harder to spend on the Democrats’ priorities.” DeLay might have tripped over his words but the fact is that his vehement opposition to pay-as-you-go policies has definitely made it easier to spend.

Also known as “pay/go,” the pay-as-you-go system was instated under the Budget Enforcement Act of the 90s. At the heart of the policy is the requirement that any new federal government program be “’budget-neutral’ — offset by cuts in existing spending or moves that increase federal revenue.” This real, rather than simply rhetorical, commitment to fiscal responsibility is how the government was able to manage a balanced budget for years.

However, the conservative Congressional leadership “has shown little interest in reinstating federal limits on congressional budgetary authority.” One of the main reasons why the conservatives are against bringing back pay/go is that President Bush’s tax cuts, the antithesis of fiscal responsibility, would be put on the chopping block. (Conservatives have been protecting the tax cuts from any kind of spending accountability).

Conservatives such as DeLay may claim they “know that we have to show fiscal responsibility.” It’s just a matter of whether or not they care.