My, my, change is reletlessly rapid, ain’t it?
Wednesday: Senate G.O.P. Blocks Tight Budget Rule.
Senate Republicans on Tuesday narrowly defeated an effort to impose budget rules that would make it harder to increase spending or cut taxes, a move that critics said that showed Republicans were posturing in their calls for greater fiscal restraint.
In the first of several politically charged budget and spending issues confronting Congress this week, the Senate rejected on a 50-to-50 tie a proposal to restore what are known as “pay-go” rules, a requirement that tax cuts and some new spending be approved by 60 votes or offset by budget savings or revenue increases.
“For those who say they are fiscally responsible, here is your chance,” said Senator Kent Conrad of North Dakota, senior Democrat on the Budget Committee. “You are going to be able to prove with one vote whether you are serious about doing something about these runaway debts and runaway deficits or whether it is all talk.”
But Republicans said the push to add the rules to the budget was a back-door effort to make it harder to extend President Bush’s tax cuts.
Five Republicans joined 44 Democrats and one independent in supporting the restoration of the budget rules. Lawmakers on both sides said they thought there was an opportunity to impose the rules, given increasing Republican alarm about the level of spending and the need to get serious about reining it in.
“If everyone is concerned about deficits, then they should obviously embrace fiscal budgetary tools of enforcement like pay-go, which has traditionally been a Republican initiative,” said Senator Olympia J. Snowe of Maine, one of the five Republicans.
But other Republicans said opposition to restoring the pay-go provisions was driven by a desire to extend tax cuts.