A Balanced-Budget Amendment to the Constitution

Opponents of a Balanced-Budget Amendment to the Constitution usually complain that it would not pass muster at the Supreme Court, because most proposals would have the President or the courts step in to balance the budget if the Congress failed—and only Congress has the power of the purse.  However, there are lots of smart people in Washington who have thought about these issues, and in fact both houses of Congress introduce proposals every few years.  In the last year there has been quite a flurry, with Democrats and Republicans separately introducing legislation and joint balanced-budget amendment resolutions in March:

Blue Dogs offer balanced budget amendment to deal with debt

By Jared Allen – 03/02/10 07:13 PM ET

Blue Dog Democrats on Tuesday introduced legislation to add a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution.

The legislation would require the federal government to pay down the national debt — which is over $12 trillion — and balance the budget by 2020. This year’s budget deficit is projected to be $1.6 trillion.

“Talking about paying down the debt and balancing the budget is easy,” Blue Dog Co-Chairman Jim Matheson (D-Utah) said in a statement. “It’s where the rubber meets the road that Congress has fallen short.”

The amendment would require Congress to produce a balanced budget every fiscal year, and require the president to submit a balanced budget in an annual address to Congress.

http://thehill.com/homenews/house/84579-blue-dogs-offer-balanced-budget-amendment

In 1995 Congress came within a single vote of passing a balanced-budget amendment and sending it to the states for ratification.  A number of states have been clamoring for the opportunity for years, as most of them MUST balance their own budgets as a matter of law . . . . . Here’s a proposal from 1997 that would work:

http://rpc.senate.gov/releases/1997/v5.htm

This is simply a matter of gathering sufficient votes in Congress.  The resistance is entirely related to the fact that every Senator and every Congressman knows that balancing the budget will be painful, and that most will lose their jobs as a result.

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2 Comments
  1. Dallas says:

    Our elected officials either will not or cannot work to achieve a better life for our children and grandchildren. The system is broken. Whether it is because of personal greed, religious views or ignorance the current state of our legislative system needs to change. We need to move toward a balanced budget, a legislative process that is more open and “democratic”, and a simpler tax structure.

    A perfect demonstration of one of our problems is the recent debate and vote on the new health care program. Whether you agree with the legislation or not, every Republican voted against it. For me this represents a polarization and lack of independent thinking that will not allow effective governance. I would hope that an elected representative would have enough intellect to judge something on its merits, enough reason to decide what is right, and have enough backbone to stand by their beliefs. I do not see much of this happening.

    For a start I think we need to institute term limits. That may be the only way to destroy these exclusive clubs in which the members only objective is to increase the wealth of themselves and their friends.

    In the past almost every person in our country could work hard and expect to improve their standard of living. This is no longer true.

    Reply
  2. admin says:

    Balanced-Budget amendment, line-item veto, tax reform, spending limits, and term limits; over the course of the last month these five items have been coming up more and more frequently. There’s an opportunity here if a few energetic and articulate people are willing to work at it.

    Reply
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