Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Why Paygo has to include revenue

The GOP like to set up pay as you go voting rules so they only apply to the spending side of the equation. Indeed, have set up rules this way since 2001, leaving the rules in place only for spending.

Witness the outcome. Revenues are way, way down, and not only that, but spending is up, too!

Why would spending go up if the rules are still hypothetically set up to make it hard to approve an increase of spending? It's pretty simple, really.

We've selected a congress that rails against big government, but gets elected by virtue of delivering to favored constituents. Along the way, the evolutionary selection process has adapted the idea of "starving the beast" into an electorally more rewarding form. Cutting revenues masquerades as fiscal conservatism, because it will hypothetically force big cuts later. No elected official ever has to make a hard choice, since cutting taxes will do the hard work for you!

You can see where this leads. Why should an elected official who theoretically has a goal of shrinking government stick their neck out and risk getting voted out of office, or perhaps even worse, losing quid pro quo voting deals and being unable to deliver goodies to big campaign donors, when they can capture the "starve the beast" voting block just by cutting taxes and then just advocate for spending they want without opposing spending they despise?

You simply can't get to a rational form of fiscal conservatism with one-sided PAYGO voting rules. You need to have the same rules on the revenue side as on the spending side to establish the dynamics of winners and losers - one person's spending initiative by necessity is in conflict with another person's tax cut (or even the SAME person's tax cut!).


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