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Apr 4

Congressional Republicans Are Seeking A Balanced Budget Amendment

Congressional Republicans are continuing a welcomed pattern of pursuing fiscal responsibility by the federal government – just what the voters charged them to do. Their political counterparts and their ideological antithesis, the Democrats, instead are plotting to sabotage talks on federal spending and speciously blame and attack the Republicans. Their philosophy is that there can really never be too much spending.

Prudently, the Republicans are resurrecting the idea of a balanced budget amendment in order to force restraint in spending and taxation. They are conflating ideas from the past with new ones to create a Constitutional Amendment that will facilitate this.

In the end, they will irrefutably show that they are the party of fiscal responsibility and restraint so that the taxpayers can keep more of what they earn and all of us can enjoy a higher standard of living.

Budget Balance By Law
Investor’s Business Daily   03/28/2011

Fiscal Policy: The balanced budget amendment idea has lain dormant for years. But Republicans are bringing it back. In a day when runaway spending is running away faster than ever, we need a mechanism to rein it in.

GOP leaders expect in the next two weeks to introduce to the public a balanced budget amendment that they believe will fix the profound debt and deficit problems that lawmakers have created for the taxpayers. Done correctly, a balanced budget amendment might do just that.

Congressional Republicans had planned to announce their intention to amend the Constitution in the middle of the month, but decided to wait for a few weeks until they could come up with a bill they could all support.

Once lawmakers have agreed to a piece of legislation, the GOP will go public with it — and the promise is the process will be highly transparent.

In other words, Congress won't have to pass the amendment before everyone finds out what's in it.

"We will have a genuine rollout," Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, guaranteed Human Events, "so the American people can know what we're doing and they can call, and email, and fax, and demand their senators and congressmen support it and create a true grass-roots effort."

While there are competing versions of the balanced budget amendment among Republican lawmakers, Human Events reported last week that the likely final version of the amendment will:

• Cap spending at 18% of GDP. Under President Obama, spending has soared to 23.8% (fiscal 2010) and 24.7% (current fiscal year) of GDP.

• Allow federal spending to exceed federal revenue only when two-thirds of both chambers approve a specific dollar amount beyond government income.

• Prohibit tax hikes to balance the budget unless two-thirds in both chambers vote to override the limitation. The significance of this can't be overstated. Any amendment that enforces a balanced budget without such a restraint would only make matters worse. A large number of Democrats and a few soft Republicans would be giddy at the prospect of endlessly raising taxes.

• Require increases in the debt limit to be approved by three-fifths of both chambers.

• Force the president to submit a balanced budget each year to Congress.

In return for allowing the debt ceiling to exceed its current $14.2 trillion threshold, the GOP is demanding that Congress vote on a balanced budget amendment.

Should Republicans get their vote, and two-thirds of each chamber approve the amendment, it will go to the state legislatures. It must then be ratified in three-fourths of the states to be added to the Constitution.

To get it through the House, Republicans will need help from Democrats. Their 49-seat majority does not reach the two-thirds level required to approve an amendment. But a balanced budget amendment bill introduced this year by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., has 215 co-sponsors, with 13 Democrats among them.

The GOP will also need help from Democrats, who have 51 of the 100 seats, to move it through the Senate. With votes from all 47 Republicans, the amendment will have to attract support from 20 Democrats.

While the numbers would indicate that passage in the Senate is unlikely, the prospect isn't entirely hopeless. Human Events notes that there are four Democrats who voted for the balanced budget amendment in 1997 who still serve in the Senate.

Democratic Sens. Mark Udall — who has offered his own balanced budget amendment — and Claire McCaskill — who has pushed for a 20.6% of GDP cap on spending — are two others who might vote for another balanced budget amendment.

But even if it gets hung up in one or both chambers, Cornyn still believes that the balanced budget amendment will at least be a useful guide to politics.

"I think the voters would know," he told Human Events, "with very stark clarity, who is for a balanced budget and who is not."

Typically all anyone needs to know about where a politician stands on a balanced budget is party affiliation. But maybe the shocking behavior of the Obama spending machine will clear up some Democrats' thinking. For those who refuse to learn, there are the elections of 2012.

http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article/567387/201103281851/Budget-Balance-By-Law.htm

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