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PAYGOing Our Way Out of Debt

Restoring Spending Rules is the Pivot Point to Draw Down Nation's Debt

Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28) today released the following op-ed to local media on the state of the nation's deficit and how restoring spending rules in Congress can immediately reduce federal spending:

PAYGOing Our Way Out of Debt
By Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28)

When you’ve dug yourself a hole, the best way to get out is to stop digging. I believe it works the same way with the nation’s growing debt.

Either we get serious about balancing our federal budget or our $12 trillion deficit will become unbearable for generations to come.
Debts like these don’t appear overnight.

Since 2001, Washington has doubled the nation’s deficit through unsustainable spending.

A series of cascading decisions turned a projected $5.6 trillion surplus in 2001 into a $12 trillion record-setting deficit in 2010.
Somewhere within that decade there was a turning point in Washington.

And 2002 was a very crucial year. That’s when Congress let Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO) spending rules expire. The same budget rules which helped create the fiscal surpluses of the 1990s, when record deficits turned into record surpluses.

Letting PAYGO expire undoubtedly helped steer this country off a fiscally-sustainable path.

Now this common sense policy is finally going to be put back to practice. And at a time when most Americans live by the PAYGO philosophy, it’s a budget blueprint which makes budget sense.

Under PAYGO, every dime of spending must be offset by another dime of savings. Meaning you can only spend what you have, not any more, and as the Federal Government spends more than it has, we need PAYGO back.

Thanks to the relentless efforts of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition, of which I am a proud member and the only member from Texas, we’re the closest we’ve ever been to restoring PAYGO.

As a Blue Dog Democrat in Washington, I believe Congress should be proactive in reversing the spending track of the last decade. Even if we’re not responsible for the decisions which ran our deficit into the red, we’re all responsible for bringing it back to the black.

As a sponsor of the PAYGO bill, I can tell you these policies are built on bipartisan ideas to rein-in the kind of spending we saw over the past 10 years and this time PAYGO won’t have an expiration date.

That’s why Blue Dogs have persistently pressed both Congress and the White House to reinstate PAYGO rules.

Now the House and the Senate have finally heeded our call. And President Obama is fully committed to signing PAYGO back into law.

This is the swiftest action we’ve taken in the past 10 years to reduce the nation’s debt and restore global faith in our domestic economy.
PAYGO is essentially a pivot point for the American people to renew their confidence in Congress and it’s a critical step forward towards restoring fiscal responsibility in Washington.

More importantly, it’s about balancing our checkbooks like Americans do everyday, spending only what we have because we can’t afford to spend any more.