James Horney, director of federal fiscal policy at the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, has a different take. The PAYGO rules, he noted, exempt emergency spending. "Right now, adding to the deficit in fact helps the economy, it doesn't hurt," Horney noted. The benefits extension "is temporary and deals with a short-term economic problem." To Horney, in exempting the bill to extend jobless benefits, PAYGO is working as it should.
Horney added, "I would have more sympathy for (Bunning) and others if they applied the same logic to new tax cuts or to extending expiring tax cuts like the estate tax."
Point taken, and it's a good one. But if supporting tax cuts years ago means a lawmaker cannot push for fiscal discipline today, then Washington will never grow up and, as Obama put it, "pay for what it spends."