Dear Senator Pryor, why not pass the Balanced Budget Amendment? (Part 18 Thirsty Thursday, Open letter to Senator Pryor)

Dear Senator Pryor, why not pass the Balanced Budget Amendment? (Part 18 Thirsty Thursday, Open letter to Senator Pryor)

Dear Senator Pryor,

Why not pass the Balanced  Budget Amendment? As you know that federal deficit is at all time high (1.6 trillion deficit with revenues of 2.2 trillion and spending at 3.8 trillion).

On my blog www.HaltingArkansasLiberalswithTruth.com I took you at your word and sent you over 100 emails with specific spending cut ideas. However, I did not see any of them in the recent debt deal that Congress adopted. Now I am trying another approach. Every week from now on I will send you an email explaining different reasons why we need the Balanced Budget Amendment. It will appear on my blog on “Thirsty Thursday” because the government is always thirsty for more money to spend.

Recently I read a great article from the Heritage Foundation on the Balanced Budget Amendment. Here is a portion of that article:

In the immediate term, Congress should address this problem by pursuing a reform path that drives down federal spending and borrowing and gets to a balanced budget. Saving the American Dream is Heritage’s plan to do just that: balancing the federal budget in 10 years and keeping it balanced in the future—without raising taxes or neglecting our national defense. Starting immediately, Congress should take every opportunity to cut and cap federal spending, and that includes addressing the unsustainable costs of America’s entitlement programs.

A part of the long-term agenda to rein in government is an appropriate and sound amendment to the Constitution that would keep federal spending under control in subsequent years. Indeed, the principal reason for adopting a balanced budget constitutional amendment is to limit the size and scope of the federal government by limiting its spending.

Proponents have long advocated this extraordinary step because other methods of controlling spending—by rule or statute—have broken down. What was once considered part of the nation’s “unwritten” constitution—that as a rule the government should not spend beyond its means—has been lost. A constitutional rule, if properly written and enforced, would have more power than any legislative mechanism for maintaining a limit on spending.

As Heritage’s David Addington has previously stated, a BBA should do three core things.

  1. First, it should control spending, taxation, and borrowing by capping annual spending and requiring Congress to act by supermajority votes if Members wish to raise taxes. These requirements are especially necessary under current circumstances—prior to having seriously reduced spending and reformed entitlement programs, the main drivers of the country’s debt.
  2. Second, it should allow Congress by supermajority votes to waive temporarily compliance with the balanced budget requirement when it is essential to national security—the one core function that is the federal government’s exclusive constitutional responsibility.
  3. Third, it should provide for its own enforcement, specifically excluding courts from any enforcement and preventing government from just borrowing more money to meet the BBA requirement.

A BBA without these provisions doesn’t address the underlying spending problem, puts pressure on Congress to increase taxes or issue more debt rather than cut spending or reform entitlements, and invites unelected judges to insert themselves even more in the policymaking process. Which is to say that, rather than simplifying matters, a weak BBA would likely make the situation much worse.

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