By Peter Marcus, DENVER DAILY NEWS
U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet is calling for fiscal responsibility in government.
But Republican leaders question why the Democrat went ahead and voted for spending legislation if his intentions are to curb out-of-control spending.
Bennet — along with Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. — has introduced Pay-As-You-Go legislation, which would require Congress to explain how it can pay for new programs and spending before actually going through with it.
The so-called PAYGO legislation — similar to that enacted in the 1990s under President Bill Clinton — would institute spending cuts if the new laws aren’t matched by increased revenues or cuts somewhere else.
Blue dogs pushed a similar proposal through the House in July.
While Bennet is not a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, he says he does believe in fiscal restraint.
“We need to return to the simple, common sense laws of the 1990s that required us to pay for new spending programs and new tax cuts,” Bennet said earlier this month. “The last administration abandoned that law, and the results speak for themselves.”
The White House on Tuesday released shocking projections for the nation’s deficit. Over 10 years, the deficit is likely to climb to $9 trillion.
State Republican Party Chairman Dick Wadhams Wednesday called Bennet’s proposal a “joke,” arguing that if he believed in fiscal restraint he wouldn’t have voted in favor of President Obama’s $787 billion economic stimulus package; the $410 billion omnibus bill that funds the government; and he wouldn’t be backing the proposed $1 trillion health care reform package.
“He introduces a piece of paper saying, ‘Oh, let’s be fiscally responsible,’ but it is not worth the paper it is written on,” said Wadhams. “Actions speak louder than words. If he believes in this he would have had the guts to vote against the stimulus bill, against the appropriations bill, against the bailouts, and he would come out right now against the health care bill.”
But Bennet defends his support for health care reform as being a fiscally responsible move. He points out that rising health costs are bankrupting families and costing the government. He said reform would lower the government’s fiscal burden over time.
Bennet believes his PAYGO plan is a good way to achieve reform while also paying for it. He added, however, that PAYGO is only a beginning. He is also calling for “sensible yearly limits on spending.”
“Our fiscal crisis is the single biggest threat to our economy and our country,” Bennet said. “It’s time we took sensible steps to get a hold of the growing deficits and debts that are constraining our kids futures.”
Distributed by Colorado Capitol Reporters