Today, the House of Representatives voted to institute a record $1.9-trillion increase in the Federal Government’s statutory debt limit (H.J. Res. 45) -- the fifth such increase since January 2007, pushing the government’s total debt ceiling to $14.3 trillion, roughly the size of the entire U.S. economy. U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent (PA-15), voted against the measure, and issued the following statement:
“The Majority in Congress is trying to convince the people of its ‘fiscal responsibility’ by touting the adoption of budgetary procedures known as ‘pay-as-you-go’ [pay-go]. In concept, pay-go would require any legislation affecting mandatory spending or tax revenue to be ‘budget neutral,’ meaning that it would not increase the deficit. Pay-go is a good concept; however, this legislation fails to make the changes necessary to enforce fiscal responsibility. I am disappointed this bill carves out exemptions for certain categories of direct spending - in other words, it protects spending increases in those areas from required offsets.
“More troubling, this legislation will do nothing to address the largest threat to our economic security -- the unsustainable growth of entitlement spending. Married to a record increase in the debt ceiling, and on the heels of a budget proposal with a record deficit, I am not confident pay-go will be used in a meaningful and responsible manner.
“The Majority promised it would adopt pay-go budget reform when they took control of Congress in 2007 – yet since then the deficit has swollen from $161 billion to $1.6 trillion. The majority has made a standard practice of setting aside pay-go whenever it is inconvenient to come up with spending offsets. Pay-go has been waived or circumvented for $1.3 trillion in deficit increases simply by declaring massive spending increases, like the so-called stimulus, ‘emergency spending.’
“I fear that, coinciding with the record increase in the debt limit, pay-go will simply be a gimmick used to justify higher spending and higher taxes. I am concerned that we are being prepared for tax hikes that will crush any chance we now have for a sustainable recovery.
“We owe the people fiscal responsibility, but we also owe a promise that we will achieve it by curbing our spending habits, not by taking more of their money to spend.