Balanced Budget Amendment the answer? Boozman says yes, Pryor no, Part 36 (Input from Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute Part 8)

From a lecture given by Dr. Milton Friedman in Erie, Pennsylvania (1978).

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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.

Dan Mitchell wrote a great article called “Why a Tax Limitation/Balanced Budget Amendment is Needed to Control Spending,” Cato Institute, Feb 19, 1997. I will be posted portions of that article the next few days. Here is the eighth portion:

Would the Amendment Make it More Difficult to Cut Taxes?

Because of existing budget rules and antiquated revenue-estimating techniques, it already is extremely difficult to cut taxes. It is hard to imagine how enactment of a balanced budget amendment could make tax cuts even less likely. Under current law, legislation that is estimated to increase the deficit faces procedural hurdles, including a three-fifths supermajority requirement in the Senate. In other words, tax cuts need to be accompanied by offsetting savings from the spending side of the budget.

If a balanced budget amendment is ratified by the states, the obstacles to tax cuts should remain unchanged. If anything, existing budget rules probably would be strengthened to ensure compliance with the amendment. It is almost certain that supporters of tax cuts would continue to be obliged to “pay for” their proposals with spending savings.


Excessive government spending is shackling the U.S. economy. A balanced budget amendment, however, should help limit the future growth of government by making it more difficult for politicians to finance additional spending with government borrowing. It is important to recognize that all the benefits of a balanced budget amendment depend on reducing the size of government. If, as many fear, politicians simply replace debt-financed spending with tax-financed spending, faster economic growth will not materialize. A strong tax limitation provision is the key to achieving a pro-growth balanced budget amendment.

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