I have been a strong proponent of pay-as- you-go. Every dollar that I’ve proposed, I’ve proposed an additional cut so that it matches.
And some of the cuts, just to give you an example, we spend $15 billion a year on subsidies to insurance companies. It doesn’t — under the Medicare plan — it doesn’t help seniors get any better. It’s not improving our health care system. It’s just a giveaway.
We need to eliminate a whole host of programs that don’t work. And I want to go through the federal budget line by line, page by page, programs that don’t work, we should cut. Programs that we need, we should make them work better.
Now, what is true is that Sen. McCain and I have a difference in terms of the need to invest in America and the American people. I mentioned health care earlier.
If we make investments now so that people have coverage, that we are preventing diseases, that will save on Medicare and Medicaid in the future.
If we invest in a serious energy policy, that will save in the amount of money we’re borrowing from China to send to Saudi Arabia.
If we invest now in our young people and their ability to go to college, that will allow them to drive this economy into the 21st century.
But what is absolutely true is that, once we get through this economic crisis and some of the specific proposals to get us out of this slump, that we’re not going to be able to go back to our profligate ways.
And we’re going to have to embrace a culture and an ethic of responsibility, all of us, corporations, the federal government, and individuals out there who may be living beyond their means.
Here’s what I heard Obama say: Yup. I support PAYGO, and will continue to do so. Here’s how…”
He then gave an example of a cut he thinks could be made.
I was very heartened to hear him address this last night; discussing PAYGO in terms of cuts (rather than just taxes) is the correct approach in my mind. There are no hard and fast rules in an economic crisis, but a responsible framework is essential.
So imagine my surprise when Dear Husband sent me some links this morning to people celebrating how Obama had abandoned “pay as you go”.
Here’s Matt Stoller at Open Left, for instance:
He talked about how the country needs to live within its means and so he supports PAYGO, but importantly, also said we’ll have to get back to that after we get through these rough economic times. I don’t have the exact quote but it’s very good news that he supports a Keynesian stimulus, and hopefully he’ll be able to bring the Blue Dogs along.
He seems to base his conclusion on this bit: “once we get through this economic crisis and some of the specific proposals to get us out of this slump, that we’re not going to be able to go back to our profligate ways.”
Sorry, but I don’t see it. To draw the conclusion that Obama’s abandoning PAYGO requires one to ignore everything between his opening paragraph and the end.
Via memeorandum, I see that this interpretation is being picked up by the right, too, as proof that Obama’s “walking away from another centrist position”.
I’m tempted to put this all off to people hearing what they want to hear — and as a supporter of PAYGO (as the concept was used by Obama last night), it’s possible that I’m doing the same thing.
But I don’t think so.