When John Boehner was first elected Speaker of the House of Representatives, he changed the Rules.
Yes, the actual Rules that the House uses to structure debate on pending legislation.
Boehner decreed that the House would not consider any additional federal spending without an identified “offset”. For example, in order to increase spending on Medicaid, the House would have to “offset” that spending through cuts to other programs (for example, by cutting Food Stamps).
BUT – Boehner decided that tax cuts would be exempt from this. Under Boehner’s Rules, Congress could pass any tax cut proposal without having to “offset” – or even consider! – the revenue cost of the legislation. [And yes, the Bush tax cuts are specifically mentioned, and specifically exempted from any Congressional consideration of their cost.]
In other words, under Boehner’s Rules, Congress will not add a dime to the deficit through increased spending.
But Congress can increase the deficit by any amount, as long as the money is being “spent” on tax cuts.
Yes, for more than a decade, our country has been borrowing to pay for the Bush tax cuts. And under Boehner’s Rules, Congress can increase the deficit as much as it wants – as long as the borrowed money is paying for tax cuts, not spending.
Boehner’s “Magical Math” sheds a different light on the Fiscal Cliff “negotiations”, doesn’t it?