September 2, 2014

New House Rules Will Clear Path for New Deficits

  • The federal budget process is a mixture of rules, timelines and norms that work together to influence policy decisions. It shapes how the...

Last week the House adopted budget enforcement rules that restrict spending but exempt tax cuts. Included are rules that weaken PAYGO by excluding revenues, allow reconciliation to be used for deficit-financed tax cuts, permit the chairman of the Budget Committee to unilaterally impose budget allocations, and establish spending reduction accounts in appropriations bills.

Spending restraint is certainly important. But the House approach of ignoring the budgetary effects of tax cuts is fiscally irresponsible and abandons the Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO) principles that were successful in the 1990s. Several fiscal commissions have recommended a wide range of options for reducing budget deficits, saying that everything should be on the table. The House should heed this advice and pay for any proposal that would significantly add to deficits over the long term.