Brummett: Congress abdicates political responsibility to make wise cuts, but we don’t need balanced budget amendment (Part 5)

Uploaded by on Oct 4, 2010

Politicians and interest groups claim higher taxes are necessary because it would be impossible to cut spending by enough to get rid of red ink. This Center for Freedom and Prosperity video shows that these assertions are nonsense. The budget can be balanced very quickly by simply limiting the annual growth of federal spending.

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Below in the clip you can see President Reagan asking for a balanced budget amendment back in the 1980’s. How much heartache would we have avoided if we had one back then?

John Brummett in his article “It may get personal in debt-limit end game,” Arkansas News Bureau, July 19, 2011 noted:

The White House is quietly encouraging the Reid-McConnell talks.

Meantime, there is talk of pandering to the tea party radicals in the unwieldy House by letting them pursue referral of a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution.

Ratification would take years. If enacted, such an amendment would amount to the same abdication of political responsibility to make wise and responsible cuts in spending as has been evident in the debt-ceiling debate.

It is obvious to me that the Balanced Budget Amendment is needed because of the “abdication of political responsibility to make wise and responsible cuts in spending” that Brummett is talking about and we have all seen for decades.

The real debate in my view should be which variety of amendment should we pass. This is a series of posts I am doing on that subject. They come from Brian Darling’s excellent article, ” The House and Senate Balanced Budget Amendments: Not All Balanced Budget Amendments Are Created Equal,” Heritage Foundation, July 14, 2011. 

Abstract: Republicans in the House and Senate have announced that they will force votes on balanced budget constitutional amendments. While the Senate and House versions of the current BBA are similar, there are some important differences that Members of Congress and the American people need to understand. For example, the Senate version makes it more difficult to enact revenue-neutral tax reform, while the House version would waive its tax limitation in times of military conflict. How Congress resolves these differences could determine whether future Congresses and Presidents balance the budget without increasing taxes.

Enforcing Legislation

The House and Senate versions differ on the authorization for legislation to enforce the BBA. Section 7 of the House version allows Congress to enforce and implement the BBA “by appropriate legislation, which may rely on estimates of outlays and receipts.” Section 10 of the Senate version, however, allows enforcement “by appropriate legislation, which may rely on estimates of outlays, receipts, and gross domestic product.” The Senate’s version specifically references GDP, whereas the House version is silent on this point.

Brian Darling is Senior Fellow for Government Studies in the Department of Government Studies at The Heritage Foundation

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