By Erik Wasson
The rules change alters the existing pay-as-you-go rule in the House to a cut-as-you-go requirement under which any bill increasing mandatory spending over a span of one, five or 10 years cannot be considered on the floor.
To address spending that appears offset in the first 10 years, but balloons in the out years, the rules contain a provision forbidding consideration of new mandatory spending measures that increase spending above $5 billion within 40 years.
Like "pay-go," "cut-go" does not apply to discretionary funding under annual appropriations bills, just to mandatory spending that, once enacted, is on auto-pilot. Pay-go, however, required points of order to tax cuts that were not accompanied by spending cuts, something absent in the new cut-go approach.
Steve Ellis of Taxpayers for Common Sense said Wednesday the GOP rule is worse than pay-as-you-go since it exempts special-interest tax breaks. He also criticized it for not including discretionary spending.
“The bottom line is that CUTGO is takes a weak budget balancing tool and makes it weaker. It is PAYGO-lite,” he said.
He noted that a a weaker statutory version of “pay-as-you-go” will remain in effect. Under that law, the Office of Management and Budget keeps track on a PAYGO scorecard of all legislation to determine if there is a PAYGO violation over a five- or 10-year period. The problem is that too many budget items were exempted from pay-go.
On a positive note, he said that cut-go would have prevented the GOP majority from adopting the new Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit.
“This massive increase in mandatory spending was not offset. So CUTGO isn't entirely toothless,” he said.