Balanced Budget Amendment the Answer? Pryor says no, Boozman says yes (part 3)(Famous Arkansan, Wayland Holyfield)

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Fellow conservative Senators speak out on why a Balanced Budget Amendment is necessary NOW to curb government spending.

Steve Brawner in his article “Safer roads and balanced budgets,” Arkansas News Bureau, April 13, 2011, noted:

The disagreement is over the solutions — on what spending to cut; what taxes to raise (basically none ever, according to Boozman); whether or not to enact a balanced budget amendment (Boozman says yes; Pryor no); and on what policies would promote the kind of economic growth that would make this a little easier.

Over the next few days I want to take a closer look a Cato Policy Report from July/August 1996 called “Seven Reforms to Balance the Budget” by Stephen Moore. Stephen Moore was the Cato Institute’s director of fiscal policy studies, and afterwards, a Cato senior fellow. This article is based on testimony he delivered before the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight on March 27, 1996. Moore observed:

I would urge that a new budget act contain the following seven provisions, which are discussed in order of priority.

1.) An Enforceable Legislative Balanced-Budget Requirement

Don’t wait for a balanced-budget amendment. Act now. The most urgent reform for this Congress to undertake is passage of a balanced-budget law that enforces the deficit targets established in the House budget resolution.

What I have in mind is a new Gramm-Rudman-Hollings formula that establishes iron-clad enforceable deficit targets. One of the great myths in Washington is that Gramm-Rudman was repealed because it wasn’t working. Gramm-Rudman was repealed by the pro-spending constituencies in Congress precisely because it was working too well.

Gramm-Rudman was enacted in 1985, when Congress was under intense public pressure to immediately reform the budget and reduce the $200 billion budget deficit. The controversial law required Congress to balance the budget by 1991 by meeting a series of annual deficit reduction targets. If Congress missed those targets, the law would trigger automatic spending cuts–a process called “sequestration”–to reduce the deficit to the mandated level.

Critics charge that the act was a dismal failure because Congress continually veered off the balanced-budget track. It is true that Congress routinely missed the deficit targets. Actual deficits under Gramm-Rudman were, on average, about $30 billion per year above maximum deficit targets.

Still, Gramm-Rudman had a positive effect on the federal budget. The best way to measure its impact is to compare the actual deficits recorded during the five years the act was in effect with what the deficit was projected to be by the Congressional Budget Office without Gramm-Rudman. The 1989 deficit was about $100 billion lower than had been expected in 1985 without Gramm-Rudman. The deficit fell from 6 to 3 percent of GDP under Gramm-Rudman.

The most dramatic effect of Gramm-Rudman was to curb government expenditures. Government spending in the five years before the act grew at a rate of 8.7 percent, but it slowed to only 3.2 percent in the five years Gramm-Rudman was in effect. Even entitlement spending was curtailed under Gramm-Rudman to a 5 percent growth rate, because Congress realized that if it allowed programs like Medicare and Medicaid to rise uncontrollably, that would eat up the rest of the budget and cause painful automatic cuts in discretionary spending.

Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Tex.) and House Majority Leader Dick Armey have introduced legislation to restore many of the features of Gramm-Rudman. The most vital reform is a series of deficit reduction targets that, if missed, would trigger automatic across-the-board spending cuts–a sequester. I would urge that any new sequester process include all federal outlays except interest payments and Social Security benefits. That would impose a much-needed dose of discipline on the budget process.

Table 1: 40 Years of Government Growth

Billions of 1995 Dollars
1955 1995 Real Growth
1955-95 (%)
National defense 242.8 271.6 11.9
Health 1.7 272.4 16,374.2
Income security 28.8 223.0 674.0
Social Security 25.2 336.1 1,236.4
Education & social services 2.5 56.1 2,117.4
Vetrans’ benefits 26.6 38.4 44.5
Community development 0.7 12.6 1,618.8
Interest 27.6 234.2 750.0
Int’l affairs 12.6 18.7 48.2
Science & Technology 0.4 17.0 3,937.8
Agriculture 20.0 14.4 -27.9
Justice & general govt. 5.2 32.1 523.4
Transportation 7.1 39.2 453.1
Energy & natural resources 7.2 26.5 268.4
Offsetting recipts -19.8 -41.4 108.6
Total Outlays 388.9 1,538.9 295.7


Another famous Arkansan.

Wayland Holyfield

Inducted in 1996

 (b. 1942) – Holyfield is from Little Rock and has written 15 number one country songs for many Nashville recording artists, such as Ronnie Millsap, Randy Travis, Reba McEntire, the Judds, Julio Iglesias, Don Williams and Waylon Jennings. “I am proudest of the song “Could I Have This Dance” because it is used in so many weddings (listed as one of the top 5 wedding songs). Touching people’s lives is what songwriting is really about. I am proud to be able to say that I am a professional songwriter and that my music has had an impact in some small way on those who have heard it. What a wonderful legacy.” Holyfield received the NSAI Presidential Award in 1979, has received 14 BMI performance awards, and also received 16 ASCAP performance awards. He wrote and recorded the song “Arkansas, You Run Deep in Me” for the Arkansas Sesquicentennial in 1986. He is quoted as saying “I live in Tennessee,” I work in Nashville, but Arkansas is always home and I wrote this song from my heart.”

The Life and Work of Award Wining Songwriter, Wayland Holyfield (1/2), Songs By: Williams, Gilley

Wayland Holyfield is the writer and performer of “Arkansas (You Run Deep in Me),” which was named one of Arkansas’s official state songs in 1987. Grammy-nominated Holyfield, a prolific songwriter has written more than forty top-ten hits, including fourteen that claimed Billboard’s number one spot. Wayland composed a huge cache of songs of which one hundred — thirty – four of his compositions have been published and recorded by an array of successful and popular artists from the country music arena.

Wayland Holyfield was born on March 15, 1942, northeast of Little Rock, Arkansas,USA in the town of Mallettown. Wayland attended the University of Arkansas (1961-1965) earning a BA degree in marketing. In 1972, he moved to Nashville, Tennessee, to pursue a songwriting career. Holyfield had his first major hit when Johnny Russell charted “Rednecks, White Socks and Blue Ribbon Beer” (No.4, 1973), just nine months after Wayland signed a publishing contract with Jack Clement. In 1975, Wayland achieved his first solo number one composition, You’re My Best Friend (No. 1, 1975), recorded by Don Williams. In addition to Williams, Holyfield’s songs have been recorded by numerous Nashville luminaries including George Strait, Reba McEntire, Tammy Wynette, Conway Twitty, Charley Pride, Mark Chesnutt, John Anderson, Mel Street, The Oak Ridge Boys and Anne Murray.

For nearly two decades, Holyfield supplied the Nashville recording industry with a steady supply of chart toppers such as “Till The Rivers All Run Dry” (Don Williams, No. 1, 1976), “Some Broken Hearts Never Mend” (Don Williams, No. 1, 1977), “I’ll Do It All Over Again” (Crystal Gayle, No. 2, 1977) and “If I Had a Cheating Heart (Mel Street, No 9, 1978). In 1980, Wayland received a Grammy nomination for “Could I Have This Dance” (Anne Murray, No. 1, 1980), which was featured in the movie, Urban Cowboy starring John Travolta. Wayland has long been active in protecting songwriters’ rights and was the first writer member from Nashville to serve on the board of ASCAP, the performance rights association.
Other popular Holyfield compositions include, I’m Getting Good at Missing You (Solitaire) (Rex Allen Jr., No. 10, 1977), “Nobody Likes Sad Songs” (Ronnie Millsap, No. 1, 1979), “Tears of the Lonely” (Mickey Gilley, No. 3, 1982), Ed Bruce’s biggest chart single, You’re the Best Break This Old Heart Ever Had “(No. 1, 1981) and “Down In Tennessee” (John Anderson, No. 12, 1985).

Throughout his career, Wayland accumulated several awards, including ASCAP\Country Writer of the Year\co-winner (1983) and NSAI Presidential Award (1979). Wayland’s songwriting skills earned him sixteen ASCAP performance awards and fourteen BMI performance awards. Holyfield is the current chairman of the Nashville Songwriters Foundation. He has been a member of the board of directors of the Nashville Songwriters Association International, (NSAI) for almost 25 years. In 1990, Holyfield was elected to the ASCAP Board of Directors, the first Nashville writer so honored. Holyfield was elected to the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1992. “Most of us go to our grave with our music still inside us”. ….. Wayland Holyfield. ~RJB: Country Music Historian, 9/2010.

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