"It says to Congress, you have to pay as you go," President Barack Obama said on Feb. 13, the day after he signed the "pay-as-you-go" law. "You can't spend a dollar unless you cut a dollar elsewhere. ... We have to cut where we can, to afford what we need," he stated.
What a difference a month makes.
Pay as you go? Not really.
This week, Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., who had thought Obama and Democratic House and Senate were serious about pay-as-you-go, has been vilified by the press, the Democratic Party and some of his colleagues in the Republican Party. Why? Because Bunning wanted to figure out how to pay for extended benefits instead of borrowing to provide them.
Go figure -- he thought they really were supposed to pay as they went. Sounds reasonable. That's what everyone else in our country has to do: figure out where the money is coming from before spending it.
But in this case, the Democrats wanted to go first and pay later. Their argument: that the measure was emergency legislation and therefore not subject to pay-go.
An emergency is defined by Merriam-Webster Online as "an unforeseen combination of circumstances or the resulting state that calls for immediate action." A program that expires as planned, that's not an emergency, that's bad planning and management -- and the Democratic Party is in charge.
Bunning released this statement Tuesday regarding his position on the benefits bill: "Just over a month ago, Democrats passed pay-go legislation and then turned around and waived it for the next two major pieces of legislation that were considered by the Senate. What was the point of passing pay-go legislation? If Democrats continue to ignore their own rules, I will oppose future legislation that is not paid for."
Why was Bunning the only senator standing up and demanding that the Senate abide by the intent of paying as they go rule? Maybe it was because Bunning, after two terms in office, is not seeking re-election.
After five days of trying to get the Senate to pay as they go, Bunning finally agreed late Tuesday night to give up the floor of the Senate and proceed with a vote, if first the Senate voted on his amendment. Bunning's amendment proposed paying for the extension of benefits by ending a tax loophole for paper companies for a wood product, "black liquor."