Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

'Stop This Fiscal Madness': Dems Urged to Vote Down 'Brainless Republican Idea' as Pelosi Plows Ahead With Pay-Go

"This is a terrible move from Pelosi and Democratic Party leadership and a slap in the face for movements demanding justice and prosperity for all—not just a privileged few."

Jake Johnson

House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) speaks during her weekly news conference December 6, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

After the incoming House Democratic majority's newly released rules package made clear that presumptive Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is moving to ram through a fiscally conservative "pay-go" measure despite widespread grassroots opposition, progressives condemned the proposed rule as a harmful "roadblock" to a bold agenda and urged their representatives to vote it down.

"Pay-go isn't only bad economics; it's also a dark political maneuver designed to hamstring progress on healthcare and other legislation."
—Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.)
"In order for pay-go to go into effect, it needs to pass the House," Warren Gunnels, policy director for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), pointed out on Twitter. "If some 18 Democrats vote no, it fails. The vote will take place on Thursday. Will enough progressives have the courage to vote no on the first roadblock to Medicare for All, Green New Deal, and college for all? Let's see."

In a petition pressuring House Democrats to vote against any rules package containing pay-go, Social Security Works declared that the proposed provision "would leave Democrats fighting for working families with one arm tied behind their backs."

"Reject the pay-go rules that perpetuate deficit scaremongering and bolster claims that we need to cut Social Security and Medicare," reads the group's petition, which currently has over 23,800 signatures.

If implemented, pay-go would require all new spending to be offset by budget cuts or tax hikes. Such a restriction, progressive lawmakers and economists argue, would unnecessarily hamstring the House Democratic majority's ability to pursue the bold agenda that voters demanded in the November midterms.

"Let's stop this fiscal madness in its tracks. We need a flexible budget to rebalance our economy."
—Stephanie Kelton, Stony Brook University

"This is a terrible move from Pelosi and Democratic Party leadership and a slap in the face for movements demanding justice and prosperity for all—not just a privileged few," argued Justice Democrats communications director Waleed Shahid.

"There's enormous appetite in the Democratic Party and among all Americans for major public investment to tackle our nation's major crises: deepening inequality and structural racism and climate disaster," Shahid added in a statement. "Pelosi and the Democratic Party leadership's support of pay-go makes actually solving these crises all but impossible. The Democratic Party leadership is unilaterally disarming and shooting themselves in the foot."

Just hours after the House Democrats' proposed rules package was made public, Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.)—who will be sworn in on Thursday—and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) became the first lawmakers to vow to vote no if pay-go is included.

In a tweet, Khanna declared: "I will be voting no on the rules package with pay-go. It is terrible economics. The austerians were wrong about the Great Recession and Great Depression. At some point, politicians need to learn from mistakes and read economic history."

Echoing Khanna's opposition, Ocasio-Cortez announced that she will also oppose the rules package, arguing that pay-go is "a dark political maneuver designed to hamstring progress on healthcare and other legislation."

"We shouldn't hinder ourselves from the start," Ocasio-Cortez concluded.

As Common Dreams reported at the time, the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) in December successfully killed a deeply regressive, Pelosi-backed tax rule that would have made progressive policy priorities like Medicare for All and a Green New Deal impossible to fund.

With a vote on the rules package slated for Thursday, advocacy groups and policy experts argued that the pay-go fight is another chance for the growing and emboldened CPC to flex its muscle and signal that it is prepared to fight for an ambitious agenda.

"We urge them to recognize that this era calls for bold leadership," declared Social Security Works. "That means improved Medicare for All, expanded Social Security, and taking on Big Pharma to lower prescription drug prices. Our government's priority should be delivering results for the people, not appeasing the Wall Street Journal editorial page."

"Let's stop this fiscal madness in its tracks," concluded Stony Brook University economics professor Stephanie Kelton, who has urged Democrats to ditch their deficit obsession and unleash "the power of the public purse" on behalf of progressive policies. "We need a flexible budget to rebalance our economy."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'This Cannot Happen': Biden DHS Seeks Contractor for Migrant Detention Center at Guantánamo Bay

The solicitation for bids—which requires some guards who speak Spanish and Haitian Creole—comes as the administration is under fire for mass deportations of migrants, including thousands of Haitians.

Jessica Corbett ·


Global Vaccine Goals 'Fall Terribly Short' Due to Big Pharma and Rich Nations' Greed: Experts

"Wealthy nations are using up the world's vaccine supply, and developing nations are suffering and losing thousands of people every day."

Brett Wilkins ·


11 Senators Support House Progressives' Push to Pass Full Biden Agenda

"We voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill with the clear commitment that the two pieces of the package would move together along a dual track."

Jessica Corbett ·


Ex-Prisoners Recall US Torture at 'Afghanistan's Abu Ghraib'

"It is psychologically hard for me to recall all that was happening," said one former Bagram Air Base inmate. "The torture was mostly done by Afghans, sometimes the Americans. But the orders came from the U.S."

Brett Wilkins ·


Rapid Shift to Electric Vehicles Could Create Over 150,000 Jobs in US by 2030

A new report says "smart" pro-labor policies by lawmakers would transform the "inevitable" shift to EVs "into a new beginning for U.S. producers and the rebuilding of a foundation for good jobs."

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo