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House Votes to Strengthen Anti-Deficit Budget Rules

By Brian Faler

July 22 (Bloomberg) — The U.S. House voted to toughen its often-ignored budget rules that require lawmakers to offset any new spending initiatives and tax cuts with savings to avoid adding to the federal deficit.

The chamber voted 265-166 for legislation that would put Congress’s so-called paygo rules into law and impose automatic budget cuts when lawmakers spend too much. Currently, legislators can vote to waive those rules.

Democrats said the bill, endorsed by President Barack Obama, would help put the government’s books in order after the annual deficit is projected to quadruple this year to more than $1.8 trillion.

“We have a moral responsibility not to heap mountains of debt onto our grandchildren,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat.

Obama praised the House’s action and said, “It is time to stop the practice of passing today’s costs onto future generations.”

Republicans scoffed at the plan, saying it included too many loopholes and that Democrats frequently ignore the paygo rules adopted when they took over Congress in 2007.

“This is PR politics,” said Representative Paul Ryan, the top Republican on the House Budget Committee. “This is not a bill to get Congress to live within its means. This is a bill to give congressmen and congresswomen an ability to put a press release out to make it look like they’re being fiscally responsible.”