Tuesday, June 9, 2009

President Obama Proposes Making "Pay As You Go" a Federal Law

If 21st Century Jeffersonians were to criticize a single action of President Obama's up to this point, it would be the massive increase in federal spending that has happened under his watch. While one could make a legitimate argument that the present economic situation requires such actions, the massive budgetary pressure, the rapidly expanding national debt, and the increasing accumulation of power in the central government certainly are a cause for concern for modern Jeffersonians.

Today, however, we have news that perhaps the winds are beginning to shift direction. President Obama has announced a proposal to enshrine the "Pay As You Go" rule, which require Congress to balance any increase in spending by making cuts elsewhere, into federal law. Currently, this rule (known as PAYGO) is simply an administrative Congressional action, which can easily be countermanded.

This will please the fiscally-conservative Blue Dog Democrats in Congress, while the liberal Democrats will clearly raise concerns. The Republicans are sure to find some way to criticize the President about this, but they would also criticize Obama if he said he thought the sky was blue. All in all, this is a positive move that 21st Century Jeffersonians should support.

Jefferson believed that any time the government spent more money than it brought it, a tax should be implemented to ensure that the debt was paid off within twenty years, so as to ensure that no generation would be required to pay for expenditures about which it had not been consulted. In Jefferson's mind, failure to do this was not only bad fiscal policy, but a crime.

President Obama deserves a lot of credit for many of his actions thus far, but the level of spending that we have seen since he has taken office should raise alarm bells. If he is serious about enshrining "Pay As You Go" into law, this concern will be greatly lessened.

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