With congressional Democrats trying to resolve differences on the war supplemental, the Blue Dog Coalition has yet to crack on its demand that any new entitlement spending be offset under pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) rules. Today the Concord Coalition weighed in with a letter from executive director Robert L. Bixby urging the Blue Dogs to set a positive example for fiscal responsibility.
“To be blunt, paygo is under assault,” Bixby wrote. “Congress has waived paygo for economic stimulus legislation and a one-year Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) ‘patch.’ These waivers alone have added roughly $180 billion to the projected debt, not including higher debt service costs.”
The Blue Dogs have insisted that a $52 billion entitlement expansion of a veterans’ education program known as the GI Bill must be offset. The dispute has prevented Speaker Nancy Pelosi from bringing the bill to the floor.
David M. Walker, until recently comptroller general of the United States and now president and chief executive of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, agreed with Bixby. “The Blue Dogs are on the right side of this issue,” Walker said. “If the proposed benefit is so important, the Congress should pay for it. If they aren’t willing to do that, then we should not expand the benefit.”
In his letter to the coalition of moderate and conservative Democrats, Bixby noted the importance of strict adherence to PAYGO to lessen the debt left to future generations of Americans. “Expressing support for paygo in the abstract is easy,” he wrote. “Making the trade-offs is the hard part.”