February 13th, 2010
12:34 PM ET
12 years ago

Obama hails return of 'pay-go'

Washington (CNN) – President Barack Obama is wasting no time touting his own efforts to impose fiscal discipline and intimating, in the process, that Capitol Hill and the prior administration did not do enough to keep runaway deficit spending under control.

Friday Obama signed into law a record $1.9 trillion increase in the federal government's borrowing cap. The legislation, which passed Congress largely along party lines, raised the debt ceiling to $14.294 trillion.

The measure also enacted a statutory, pay-as-you-go, or "pay-go," procedure requiring lawmakers to find ways to pay for proposed spending increases or tax cuts by offsetting them with higher taxes or reduced spending elsewhere in the budget.

In his weekly radio and Internet address out Saturday, Obama is lauding the return of the ‘pay-go’ requirement.

“It was this rule that helped lead to balanced budgets in the 1990s, by making clear that we could not increase entitlement spending or cut taxes simply by borrowing more money. And it was the abandonment of this rule that allowed the previous administration and previous congresses to pass massive tax cuts for the wealthy and create an expensive new drug program without paying for any of it. Now in a perfect world, Congress would not have needed a law to act responsibly, to remember that every dollar spent would come from taxpayers today – or our children tomorrow.”

“But this isn’t a perfect world,” continues Obama. “This is Washington. And while in theory there is bipartisan agreement on moving on balanced budgets, in practice, this responsibility for the future is often overwhelmed by the politics of the moment. It falls prey to the pressure of special interests, to the pull of local concerns, and to a reality familiar to every single American – the fact that it is a lot easier to spend a dollar than save one.”

“Now, Congress will have to pay for what it spends, just like everybody else,” the president also says in Saturday’s address.

In addition to the return of the “pay-go” rule, Obama also mentions spending cuts he has proposed in his latest budget blueprint; his recently announced proposal to freeze nondiscretionary, nonsecurity spending for three years; and his plan to create a bipartisan fiscal commission by executive order.

Related: Senate nixes debt commission

“After a decade of profligacy, the American people are tired of politicians who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk when it comes to fiscal responsibility,” the president also says in Saturday’s address. “It’s easy to get up in front of the cameras and rant against exploding deficits. What’s hard is actually getting deficits under control. But that’s what we must do.”

In a statement released Friday evening after Obama signed the law increasing the debt ceiling and re-imposing “pay-go,” Republican National Committee Chairman Steele slammed the president.

“With a simple stroke of his pen, President Obama now has the ability to continue his binge spending agenda to the tune of an additional $1.9 trillion, the largest one-time increase in our history,” Steele says. “If the president thinks he can hide his embarrassing binge spending habit behind a thin fig leaf like PAYGO, then he truly has hit rock bottom.”

Filed under: national debt • President Obama
soundoff (42 Responses)
  1. Albert R. K. . L.A., CA

    Reagan was a master at using reverse euphemisms calling the notion of paying for something you use, “liberal tax and spend” politics. Yet his borrow and splurge policies increased the national debt more than every president before him combined. Then George H.W. Bush and George W, Bush each out borrowed and splurged their predecessors with all that money they spent going to their global corporate friends. Since Reagan, only Clinton left a surplus. This mess we are in did not happen since Obama was elected. Obama was elected because this mess happened and Republican global corporate sympathizers in the Senate are obstructing him from changing it. Maybe this new “Pay-go” law is a sign that we do have hope for change.

    February 13, 2010 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  2. Christine

    I cannot believe this ", raised the debt ceiling to $14.294 trillion" - This Obama guy screamed to lower deficit - but here he goes on the other side, increasing the debt ceiling. Obama's act is like a SLAP ON OUR FACES AMERICAN PEOPLE - I maybe wrong here but this guy is meant to bring United States down to the drain instead of helping its citizens life out of debt.
    This is like credit cards, the more the company increases the credit card limit, the more Americans gets into debt. HORRIBLE, PRESIDENT– Please wake up. Your policy is a destruction to the savings of American family. I am scared that my families savings in the bank will go down to penny's because of the government's debt and the value of dollar goes down. Sorry for my rant here but I am really angry now with this government. I like the Obama during campaign, the Obama that is acting now is 360 degrees the opposite.

    February 13, 2010 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  3. Illinoistom

    What's the over/under on whether this means massive spending cuts versus massive tax increases? I'm betting on tax increases.

    February 13, 2010 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  4. Independent

    On an issue that should have mutual approach on both sides, Steele unfortunately chose divisive rhetoric (again).

    Instead of ridiculous "thin fig leaf" nonsense, why doesn't Steele try to use a real 'olive branch' for a change? He could start by convincing his Republican colleagues/co-sponsors to actually vote for their own bill to work WITH the president's support on fiscal policy.

    February 13, 2010 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  5. WrongKindofChange

    Here it comes...higher taxes! The democrats continue to grow the governemnt and are going to tax all of us to pay for it.

    Here's an idea. Cut the government spending. It's called budgeting. If you don't have the money for it then cuts have to be made. Grow some balls Obama and quit worrying about the lobbiests who got you elected and start worrying about the American people. Less goverment, less taxes, and more power for the people.

    February 13, 2010 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  6. JES

    How about term limits and we vote on the cost of living and any other raises any government elected official gets.

    Line item veto start using and cut all the pork out not just some.

    I dopn't want my tax dollars going to waste.

    Balance the budget would be another good idea but I know that won't happen.

    February 13, 2010 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  7. Mike in MN

    Obama has no shame. He is beyond belief. He can't resist another partisan attack on Bush yet his first budget increased spending by 300 billion over the last Bush budget and was not paid for and added to the deficit. His new budget he just released increases spending by another 300 billion and he does not pay for the increased spending. His new budget will have a 2010 deficit of 1.56 trillion, 256 billion more than the 2009 deficit of 1.3 trillion. That is not how pay-as-you-go works. Who does he think he is kidding? How stupid does Obama think the voters are? When exactly is he going to do what he says instead of tell us what he thinks we want to hear and then do something else? Bush never increased the deficit by 256 billion in a single year. Obama calling Bush irresponsible is like a thief calling a burglar a criminal. The Bush deficits were bad, Obama's are a threat to our national security.

    February 13, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  8. rob

    Excellent Mr. President.

    February 13, 2010 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  9. Mike in MN

    If Obama is serious about pay-as-you-go and being responsible, he will volunteer to rip up his new budget he just sent to Congress and offer to craft a new one. The new Obama budget increases spending by 300 billion without paying for it. The result is a 2010 deficit of 1.56 trillion which is 256 billion more than the 2009 deficit of 1.3 trillion. Obama is not paying for 256 billion of his new spending. It's is beyond belief that Obama would make partisan jabs at the previous administration for being irresponsible when he is even more so. And it is beyond belief that Obama would again brag about steps he has taken to reduce the deficit when he is in fact increasing it by record amounts to record levels. Cutting spending on one program while increasing it by even more on another is not cutting govenment spending, it is increasing it and the 256 billion increase in the deficit proves it.
    If Obama contiunes down this path of out of control spending, our nation may not survive his 4 year term.

    February 13, 2010 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  10. Bill from GA

    I would like for our President to endorse Congressional pay hikes. Then I know 41 senators would be against it.

    Come on, people. Where is the outrage against Congress's pay hike??

    February 13, 2010 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  11. Bill from GA

    Having just listened to the Pres. , i wonder if Congressional pay hikes are going to be frozen. You Betcha, NOT!

    Get mad, America. We can all agree that Congress should forgo any pay hikes until our debt is shrinking. If a few of them get their feelings hurt, some more (probably better) will be glad to take their place.


    February 13, 2010 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  12. Mike in MN

    I see some states are now asking for money from the federal government to bail them out. That is a big no! The states need to cut spending as does the federal government. If the states can be bailed out by the feds, they will spend whatever they want and will just look to the feds to bail them out when they spend to much.
    Time for a frank discussion between government and the people. If the people want the current levels of government, we will have to pay more in taxes because current taxes do not pay for the current government. If he people don't want to pay higher taxes then the size of government needs to be cut to reduce the spending and cost.
    We can't continue down the current path.
    And Obama is feeding us a line of bull when he talks like this is a partisan problem only Bush and Republicans are guilty of. Just check out the budget he just sent to congress that will increase the deficit by an al time record amout with his unfunded spending increases. At the very same time he is preaching against this kind of irresponsible government, he is doing it himself.

    February 13, 2010 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  13. Perusing-through

    Give the Republican-GOP a little time, and they will find something about "Pay-As-You-Go" they don't like. Why? Because the President supports it.

    The GOP will be against "Pay-As-You-Go" simply because President Obama supports it.

    February 13, 2010 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  14. andy

    This guy just beats all I have seen.Spends money he does not have like a drunk sailor,raises his credit limit to spend more and when the voters tell him he is wrong,he will now save the day by doing what he should have a year ago.How can anyone not see thru him.

    February 13, 2010 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  15. jules sand-perkins

    What does the President think he's talking about?
    HE himself is the biggest spender of government money!
    HE is asking Congress to spend our money!
    It's not that Congress is asking him for health-care et al.
    The President can't even get his spending ambitions passed by Congress!

    February 13, 2010 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  16. beanne

    Hahahahahah is he serious?...I almost choked when I heard this.He has been the most reckless President EVER with Taxpayers money...He has got to be kidding us...what a hypocrit......all this guy knows how to do besides put America and Americans down then spen our money, is to blame...blame...blame....wow and we the people, honestly, are sick of it!

    February 13, 2010 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  17. Jenn, Philadelphia

    And he touts paygo as if it were his idea. Note the key word "statutory", he had no choice. He walks the walk and talks the talk, of the same kind of politician as all the others. He's also threatening to use executive powers to push forth his agenda without legislative input. How very George Bush of him. He says one thing ("i want to work with the opposition") and does another (i'll enact executive powers).

    February 13, 2010 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
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