The link below includes Gerstein’s story on PAYGO and a video clip of the President explaining his rationale. I thought it was worthwhile to include here and also included some thoughts of my own.
Addressing the budget and national debt are certainly two of the top priorities for any President but particularly for this President. One of the major issues I did not understand about the Iraq War was how an American President could justify the cost. When deciding whether or not to wage this war or how to go about securing Iraq, there must have been a variety of options from full-on invasion all the way down to half-hearted economic embargos. Why choose the most costly option?
I bring up the controversial decision to go into Iraq for one reason. That’s how President Bush would defend the expiration of PAYGO and his decision to deficit spend on the war in Iraq. He was say that it was the necessary by-product of waging war and defending American security. I’m fairly sure that we’ve created deficits in any major military or wartime effort. Thus, so the argument goes, it was not irresponsible because it was in America’s national security interest.
For me, it wasn’t the lack of WMDs or pre-emptive strike doctrine that was so upsetting about the choice to enter Iraq. It was the ballooning cost and open-end spending which accompany any war effort. Surely once the decision is made, Congress should step up and provide the military with the support they need to win. In hindsight, the decision shouldn’t have been made, purely on cost alone. (Of course, hindsight is 20/20 and it’s all too easy to sit in my kitchen on a Saturday morning in 2010 and claim to know what’s best for America in 2002.) I just assume that these guys knew how expensive and costly (in both dollars and lives) it would be and decided to do it anyway.
So, while I’m not sure the long term plan this President has for spending reform and saving money, I do think that this decision and these messages are the way back to limiting spending (if that’s possible) and eliminating deficits.