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Incoming House GOP Announces Rule Changes

I especially like this one.

On the spending front, Republicans plan to implement a series of rules called CUT/GO — a conservative answer to the PAY/GO rules instituted by Democrats. Under CUT/GO, increases in mandatory spending would have to be offset by spending cuts in other programs. Mandatory spending refers to the autopilot portion of the budget covering Social Security, Medicare and other programs designed to make payouts based on eligibility criteria rather than a set dollar figure each year.

Under CUT/GO, offsets could not be achieved by raising taxes, according to the summary.

In addition, GOP leaders will eliminate the so-called Gephardt Rule, which has long allowed House members to avoid a direct vote on raising the nation’s debt ceiling. The rule provided that a bill increasing the debt limit was automatically generated when the House adopted a conference report on the annual budget resolution.

As someone who had to read more about “PAYGO” in the past eight months than he thought was possible, the House GOP’s “CUT/GO” will have actual teeth to it.  “PAYGO” has been a joke — especially under past Congresses.  To put it to you another way, all spending under the Obama Administration — where they increased the national debt to the tune of over 3 Trillion dollars — was legal under the PAYGO rules.

This way seems to actually do something about increases in government spending since past PAYGO “offsets” have never been offset in future budgets.

As for the elimination of “the Gephardt Rule,” that’s a transparency and accountability measure which should have happened a long time ago.  (Gephardt’s been out of Congress since 2004 if my memory’s correct.)  Not only in the past has Congress hid the debt limit increase in budget resolutions, but they hid them in controversial bills like TARP, the Stimulus, and various “must-pass” Omnibus spending bills.

Other rules the House GOP are implementing or returning are term limits on committee chairmanships to six years (Dave Obey and Charlie Rangel demanded that one had to go after the 2006 midterms),  restoring or changing the names of some committees, and limiting access to the “Members Only” gymnasium for ex-members of Congress who become lobbyists.

The only real question is how the Chairman rules will apply to the current sitting ranking members who are set to become the Chairman of these committees.   If that rule applies, Paul Ryan will only have this Congress to be House Budget Chairman since he has been Ranking Member since 2007.

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