Coburn, Baby, Burn

The Hill reports that Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) has promised to block all future spending bills that are not fully “paid for.” He currently is leading a Republican effort in the Senate to deny a month-long extension of expanded unemployment benefits, health insurance subsidies for the unemployed and the Medicare “Doc fix” unless the $9 billion cost is fully offset.

The debt inferno has to be extinguished. We can’t dance around the issue anymore. Simple fiscal discipline is a good first step. As CRFB has made clear in recent statements, Congress must adhere to PAYGO and make the difficult decisions required to pay for the legislation it enacts. The PAYGO law that Congress recently enacted is already filled with loopholes, deeming spending as “emergency” in order to bypass it weakens it further. Even when spending is used to provide fiscal stimulus, offsets over a longer period of time need to be found.

CRFB applauds Senator Coburn’s stand and hopes that he and others will fight just as hard for offsets on the revenue side. Those concerned about reducing the debt must pay for all tax cuts, as well as spending increases. Failure to offset tax cuts will not only add to our debt, but will incentivize politicians to disguise new spending as targeted tax credits, deductions, and exclusions – using that side of the budget to deficit-finance their policy goals.

The fiscal responsibility boogie is not a complicated dance, but it requires balance and coordination. Both spending and revenue must be on the floor.