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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, December 14, 2006

It's pay-as-we-go time as Dems take the reins

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Considering that Democrats have been out of power in Congress for 12 years, the new House leadership decision to stall on budgetary decisions seems the best pick from a dismal set of options.

The majority's stated intention to delay crafting new budgetary policy until after the 2007 fiscal year ends Sept. 30 amounts to a punt. Ordinarily, opting simply to continue spending at the same rate for the short term, essentially putting federal spending on auto-pilot, is bad budget practice, economic analysts say.

But new House leaders need time to arrive at some consensus about spending policy.

It enables them to tackle more of their agenda in the early days of the new congressional session, plucking lower-hanging fruit such as an increase in the minimum wage.

Of course, Washington can't tread water forever. The voters expect some change in direction, in the Iraq war and at home. The GOP "Contract with America" has withered over the years and was nullified through more recent acts of self-serving initiatives and corruption in the House. Democrats can rail against the past for only so long and will be held accountable, now that their watch has begun.

Local "pork" projects have been set aside, and considering the deep national deficit, that's a good first step.

Let's make sure the second step isn't a replacement of GOP pork with the Democratic brand. With rising wartime spending, Americans should expect more fiscal prudence in other areas. "Pay as you go," both by reducing spending and curbing or rescinding the tax cuts for the wealthy, should be the watchword.