There was great sound and fury in Washington this week when Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., temporarily blocked passage of a bill that would tack an additional $10 billion onto our huge federal budget deficit.
What troubled Sen. Bunning was that Congress was unwilling to offset the new spending -- which would go toward federal transportation projects, new unemployment benefits and some other items -- with cuts in other areas of the ever-expanding federal government.
Sen. Bunning was not necessarily opposed to the projects and benefits the bill would fund. Rather, he simply wanted them to be paid for without adding to deficits.
After all, lawmakers recently enacted so-called "pay-as-you-go" rules saying that new spending may not add to our crippling deficits, and Sen. Bunning wanted to see whether they meant what they said when they adopted those rules. In effect, he was calling Congress' bluff. So he proposed that instead of adding to deficits, $10 billion in unspent funds from the so-called "stimulus" be used to pay the tab.
"We cannot keep adding to the debt," he said. "It's over $14 trillion and going up fast."
Unfortunately, lawmakers immediately proved that the "pay-go" rules Democrats sought for so many years are meaningless. Democrats balked furiously at the idea of cutting other spending to pay for new spending.
Sen. Bunning is now being denounced for blocking federal spending. Instead, he should be praised for proving that Congress' supposed "pay-as-you-go" rules are really "pay-as-you-borrow-and-tax" rules.