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“Pay as you go” = Delay as you go; Update: House embraces $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, 217-212

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By Michelle Malkin  •  February 4, 2010 01:01 PM

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The House is currently debating the federal debt ceiling increase to $14.3 trillion. (The Senate, with every single Democrat voting in favor, adopted the debt limit increase last week.) These measures are on top of two other debt limit increases over the last year (including one adopted in the dead of night over Christmas break) worth more than $1 trillion.

The red ink deluge never ends.

Democrats are trying to make the debt flood look more palatable by embracing “pay-go” principles — except, of course, that the exemptions and loopholes show that pay-as-you-go is once again a delay-as-you-go tactic that pushes fiscal discipline off into the distant future:

To ease its passage, Democrats attached tougher budget rules designed to curb a spiraling upward annual deficit — projected by Obama to hit a record $1.56 trillion for the budget year ending Sept. 30. The new rules would require future spending increases or tax cuts to be paid for with either cuts to other programs or equivalent tax increases.

If the rules are broken, the White House budget office would force automatic cuts to programs like health care benefits, farm subsidies and veterans’ pensions. Current rules have commonly been waived over the past few years at a cost of almost $1 trillion.

Skeptics say lawmakers also will find ways around the new rules fairly easily. Congress, for example, can declare some spending an “emergency” — a likely scenario for votes later this month to extend jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed.

And, indeed, there already are exceptions to the new rules, such as for extending former President George W. Bush’s middle-class tax cuts past their expiration a year from now. That would add $1.4 trillion to the federal debt over the next decade.

In agreement with Obama’s budget earlier this week, there is no exception for taxpayers in the two highest tax brackets whose marginal rates are due to rise by 3 percent or 4.6 percent to a pre-Bush maximum 39.6 percent next January.

But some new White House initiatives, such as doubling the child care tax credit for families earning less than $85,000, also would have to live within the rules, as would continuing subsidies for laid off workers to buy health insurance — unless lawmakers make another exception.

Which, of course, they will.

Playing more kick the fiscal discipline can down the road again…

***

Every House Democrat supported the increase in the debt limit. Every House Democrat. Remember. Repeat.

The House has approved a measure allowing the government to borrow $1.9 trillion to pay its bills.

The measure would raise the so-called debt limit to $14.3 trillion ā€” more than $45,000 for every person living in the United States.

Democrats provided every “yes” vote in the 217-212 tally just as Republicans had to supply votes when they controlled Congress and the White House.

The massive increase in the debt is required because the government now has to borrow more than 40 cents of every dollar it spends because the recession has caused a slump in revenues at the same time spending has spiked.

CORRECTION: 37 House Democrats voted no. See roll call here.

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