Obama on the Record: ‘Pay As You Go’

Paying for what you spend is basic common sense. Perhaps that’s why, here in Washington, it’s been so elusive. Of course, there have been those in Washington leading the charge to restore PAYGO, and many of them are here today. I want to recognize Congressman George Miller, who introduced the first PAYGO bill in the House. (Applause.) I want to thank the House Blue Dogs and their leader, especially Baron Hill, who has been a driving force in favor of PAYGO. (Applause.) I want to acknowledge Senator Claire McCaskill, who’s shown real leadership on this issue in the Senate. (Applause.) And as I said, I want to acknowledge the Speaker of the House, as well as leader Steny Hoyer, who are here because they understand the importance of this principle and are fully supportive of our efforts.

In fact, two years ago, a new Democratic Congress put in place congressional rules to restore this principle, but could not pass legislation without the support of the administration. I want you all to know you now have that support. (Applause.)

The fact is there are few who aren’t distressed by deficits. It’s a concern that crosses party lines, geographic boundaries, and ideological divides. But often, in the give-and-take of the political process, the vested interests of the few overtake the broader interests of the many. The debate of the day drowns out those who speak of what we may face tomorrow. And that’s why “pay as you go” is essential. It requires Congress to navigate the ebb and flow of politics while remaining fixed on that fiscal horizon.

The reckless fiscal policies of the past have left us in a very deep hole. And digging our way out of it will take time, patience, and some tough choices. I know that in the face of this historic challenge there are many across this country who are skeptical of our collective ability to meet it. They’re not wrong to feel that way. They’re not wrong to draw this lesson after years in which we’ve put off difficult decisions; in which we’ve allowed our politics to grow smaller as our challenges grew ever more daunting.

But I think everybody understands this is an extraordinary moment, one in which we are called upon not just to restore fiscal responsibility, but to once again live up to the broader responsibilities we have to one another. And I know that we can summon that sense of shared obligation; that we have the capacity to change, and to grow, and to solve even our toughest of problems.

And that’s at the heart of why we’re here. I appreciate the work of the people in this room who’ve shown a willingness to make hard choices and do the hard work that’s essential to overcoming the challenges of the present, while leaving our nation better off in the future. So this is going to be a lift. We know it’s going to be tough. I think we can get it done, especially with the extraordinary leadership that is on display here today.

Thank you very much, everybody. (Applause.)

(Source: White House)

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