The first thing the Democratic-led Congress did in January 2007 was reimpose pay-as-you-go, or PAYGO, budget rules that Republicans had let lapse. The PAYGO rules had helped President Clinton turn over an historic budget surplus to President Bush–who quickly turned it into a record deficit:
Simply put: Under PAYGO, Congress can only spend a dollar if it saves a dollar. Today, House Democrats introduced President Obama's Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2009 — legislation that will serve as a supplement to the existing House PAYGO rule, providing an enforcement mechanism that will hold both chambers of Congress, as well as the Administration, accountable for paying for legislation. This legislation is necessary to help reverse years of recklessness by the Bush Administration, which left America in an unprecedented fiscal hole, facing a deficit of $1.3 trillion.
The legislation introduced today to make pay-as-you-go budgeting the law of the land will help return our nation to sound fiscal health. Just as every American family must leave within their means, so must the federal government.
Since the first day Democrats reclaimed control of Congress in 2007, PAYGO has been a rule of the House of Representatives. I am proud to join my colleagues today in introducing legislation that will make PAYGO rules into law with enforceable consequences.
When Democrats implemented pay-as-you-go budgeting in the 1990s, we reversed huge deficits of the Reagan-Bush years, created budget surpluses, and produced an economic boom. Today, we are taking the first step in the direction of greater stability and greater security for our economy, our citizens, and our future generations.