House Approves Budget Resolution

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Like the Senate Version, It's More Responsible Than the President's Budget

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a budget resolution Thursday that would require any extension of the Bush tax cuts, which expire at the end of 2010, to be offset with new revenues or spending cuts to avoid increasing the deficit. Like the Senate version, this budget resolution includes pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) rules and is supposed to balance the budget by 2012 (at which point it claims to produce a surplus of $153 billion). The plan is not perfect. Like the Senate version and the budget proposal offered by the President, this "balanced budget" projection includes the Social Security surpluses, which are really supposed to be counted separately from other revenues as explained in last week's Digest.

Nonetheless, the House should be commended for passing a budget that shrinks deficits and does not assume that tax cuts will be extended without being offset, as the President's budget does. Republicans are trying hard to portray the budget plan as a tax increase because it requires extension of the tax cuts to be paid for. The tax cuts enacted over the past six years (when Republicans controlled the House, Senate and White House) were written to expire at the end of 2010, so any extensions will in fact be new tax breaks. Prohibiting new tax breaks or new spending that is funded by increased borrowing is a common sense reform that helped balance the federal budget in the 1990s.

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