Monthly Archives: December 2011

Goalkeeper is lucky sometimes (Soccer Saturday)

Vegalta Sendai were up 1-0 in the first half of their J-League match against defending champions Nagoya Grampus Eight when the losing home side’s keeper, Yoshinari Takagi, came out of his area to collect the ball. He took too long to clear it., allowing Atsushi Yanagisawa to take the ball off him for a seemingly easy chance at a wide-open net. But, Yanagisawa decided to shoot from outside the box instead of going in a bit closer and ended up putting his shot wide of the far post.

Yanagisawa fell over in shock, while Takagi quickly resumed play in the hopes that no one would remember his goof-up to start the series of goof-ups. In the end, the combination of flubs didn’t matter, though, and Vegalta held on to win 1-0.

Reasons why Mark Pryor will be defeated in 2014 (Part 10)

It is apparent from this statement below that Senator Mark Pryor is against the Balanced Budget Amendment. He has voted against it over and over like his father did and now I will give reasons in this series why Senator Pryor will be defeated in his re-election bid in 2014. However, first I wanted to quote the statement Senator Pryor gave on December 14, 2011. This information below is from the Arkansas Times Blog on 12-14-11 and Max Brantley:

THREE CHEERS FOR MARK PRYOR: Our senator voted not once, but twice, today against one of the hoariest (and whoriest) of Republican gimmicks, a balanced budget amendment. Let’s quote him:

As H.L. Mencken once said, “For every complex problem there is a solution which is simple, clean, and wrong.” This quote describes the balanced budget amendment. While a balanced budget amendment makes for an easy talking point, it is an empty solution. Moreover, it’s a reckless choice that handcuffs our ability to respond to an economic downturn or national emergencies without massive tax increases or throwing everyone off Medicare, Social Security, or veteran’s care.There is a more responsible alternative to balance the budget. President Clinton led the way in turning deficits into record surpluses. We have that same opportunity today, using the blueprint provided by the debt commission as a starting point. We need to responsibly cut spending, reform our tax code and create job growth. This course requires hard choices over a number of years. However, it offers a more balanced approach over jeopardizing safety net programs and opportunity for robust economic growth.



Balanced Budget Amendment: Cut Spending Later, Cut Spending Now

March 31, 2011


Two key principles should govern congressional consideration of an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that requires the federal government to balance its budget:

  • First Principle: A Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA) is important to help bring long-term fiscal responsibility to America’s future when the BBA takes effect after ratification by three-quarters of the state legislatures; it is equally important for Congress to cut spending nowto address the current overspending crisis.
  • Second Principle: An effective BBA will include three elements to: (a) control spending, taxation, and borrowing, (b) ensure the defense of America, and (c) enforce the requirement to balance the budget.

Cuts for the Future, Cuts for the Present

Federal spending is out of control—both obligations for the future and spending right now.

Congress must get spending under control in the long term. America cannot raise taxes to continue overspending, because tax hikes shrink our economy and grow our government. America cannot borrow more to continue overspending, because borrowing puts an enormous financial burden on the American children of tomorrow. A BBA will help address this long-term problem because, after the multi-year process for securing ratification of the BBA by three-quarters of the states, the BBA will keep federal spending under control in subsequent years.

Congress also must get spending under control in the short term. Federal overspending is not simply about the future, but also about the present. Under the President’s Fiscal Year 2012 Budget Submission, measured by the Congressional Budget Office, the federal government will spend $1.2 trillion more than it will take in, a gargantuan burden of additional debt forced on future generations to pay current bills.

Thus, America needs both a Balanced Budget Amendment for the long term and deep cuts in federal spending starting right now, without waiting for a BBA to take effect. As Congress considers budget resolutions, appropriations bills, appropriations continuing resolutions, and debt limit bills, Congress should take every opportunity now to cut federal spending, including for the biggest overspending problem: the ever-growing entitlement programs.

Congress should recognize that the best way to encourage state legislatures to ratify a BBA is to demonstrate, through consistent congressional cuts in spending, that the American people have the will to accept spending cuts to balance the budget.

Elements of a Successful Balanced Budget Amendment

A successful BBA will:

  • Control spending, taxing, and borrowing through a requirement to balance the budget.The BBA should cap annual spending at a level not exceeding either: (a) a specified percentage of the value of goods and services the economy produces in a year (known as gross domestic product, or GDP), or (b) the level of revenues. To ensure that Congress cannot simply balance the budget by continually raising taxes instead of cutting overspending, the BBA should require Congress to act by supermajority votes if Members wish to raise taxes. Any authority the BBA grants Congress to deal with economic slowdowns, by waiving temporarily the requirement that spending not exceed the GDP percentage or revenue level, should specify the amount of above-revenue spending allowed and require supermajority votes.
  • Defend America. The BBA should allow Congress by supermajority votes to waive temporarily compliance with the balanced budget requirement when waiver is essential to pay for the defense of Americans from attack.
  • Enforce the balanced budget requirement. The BBA should provide for its own enforcement, but must specifically exclude courts from any enforcement of the BBA, so unelected judges do not make policy decisions such as determining the appropriate level of funding for federal programs. A government that spends money in excess of its revenues must borrow to cover the difference. Therefore, to enforce the requirement to balance the budget, the BBA should prohibit government issuance of debt, except when necessary to finance a temporary deficit resulting from congressional supermajority votes discussed above.

America is in a fiscal crisis. Our government spends too much. Overspending must stop immediately. Overspending will stop only if Congress cuts spending now, including with respect to the ever-expanding entitlement programs. For the future, Congress and three-quarters of state legislatures can adopt and ratify a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to anchor the American willingness to live within a balanced budget.

David S. Addington is Vice President for Domestic and Economic Policy, and J. D. Foster, Ph.D., is Norman B. Ture Senior Fellow in the Economics of Fiscal Policy, at The Heritage Foundation.

Ron Paul has made his position on healthcare clear in the past

Ron Paul has made his position on healthcare clear in the past

Ron Paul sets the liberals straight on the solution for our healthcare problem in this video clip above during one of the presidential debates.

Despite Flaws, U.S. Health Care the Best

by Michael D. Tanner

Michael Tanner is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, and the co-author of Healthy Competition: What’s Holding Back Health Care and How to Free It.

Added to on October 18, 2011

This article appeared in USA Today on October 18, 2011.

Similarly, when Canadian Human Resources Minister Belinda Stronach needed treatment for breast cancer, she had it done at a California hospital. And, when then-Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams needed to have a leaky heart valve repaired, he had it done at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in Florida.

These high-profile patients were following in the footsteps of tens of thousands of patients from around the world who come to the United States for treatment every year.

We aren’t perfect, but if you’re sick, the United States is still the place you want to be.

They come here because they know that despite its flaws, the U.S. health care system still provides the highest quality care in the world. Whether the disease is cancer, pneumonia, heart disease or AIDS, the chances of a patient surviving are far higher in the U.S. than in other countries.

According to a study published in the British medical journal The Lancet, the U.S. is at the top of the charts when it comes to surviving cancer. For example, more than two-thirds of women diagnosed with cancer will survive for at least five years in the U.S. That’s 6 percentage points better than the next best country, Sweden.

Michael Tanner is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, and the co-author of Healthy Competition: What’s Holding Back Health Care and How to Free It.


More by Michael D. Tanner

Moreover, the U.S. drives much of the innovation and research on health care worldwide. Eighteen of the last 25 winners of the Nobel Prize in medicine are either U.S. citizens or work here. U.S. companies have developed more than half of all new major medicines introduced worldwide over the past 20 years. And Americans played a key role in 80% of the most important non-pharmaceutical medical advances of the past 40 years.

Does U.S. health care cost too much? Sure. But on a year-to-year basis, the cost in other countries is rising about as fast. Do we need to expand coverage? Certainly. But at least we’ve avoided the government-imposed rationing that afflicts so many countries. We aren’t perfect, but if you’re sick, the United States is still the place you want to be.

Ron Paul on Jay Leno (part 2)

I saw Ron Paul on Jay Leno’s show the other day and here is some of the things he talked about:



“Ron Paul is one of the outstanding leaders fighting for a stronger national defense. As a former Air Force officer, he knows well the needs of our armed forces, and he always puts them first. We need to keep him fighting for our country.” – Ronald Reagan



As an Air Force veteran, Ron Paul believes national defense is the single most important responsibility the Constitution entrusts to the federal government.

In Congress, Ron Paul voted to authorize military force to hunt down Osama bin Laden and authored legislation to specifically target terrorist leaders and bring them to justice.

Today, however, hundreds of thousands of our fighting men and women have been stretched thin all across the globe in over 135 countries – often without a clear mission, any sense of what defines victory, or the knowledge of when they’ll be permanently reunited with their families.

Acting as the world’s policeman and nation-building weakens our country, puts our troops in harm’s way, and sends precious resources to other nations in the midst of an historic economic crisis.

Taxpayers are forced to spend billions of dollars each year to protect the borders of other countries, while Washington refuses to deal with our own border security needs.

Congress has been rendered virtually irrelevant in foreign policy decisions and regularly cedes authority to an executive branch that refuses to be held accountable for its actions.

Far from defeating the enemy, our current policies provide incentive for more to take up arms against us.

That’s why, as Commander-in-Chief, Dr. Paul will lead the fight to:

* Make securing our borders the top national security priority.

* Avoid long and expensive land wars that bankrupt our country by using constitutional means to capture or kill terrorist leaders who helped attack the U.S. and continue to plot further attacks.

* Guarantee our intelligence community’s efforts are directed toward legitimate threats and not spying on innocent Americans through unconstitutional power grabs like the Patriot Act.

* End the nation-building that is draining troop morale, increasing our debt, and sacrificing lives with no end in sight.

* Follow the Constitution by asking Congress to declare war before one is waged.

* Only send our military into conflict with a clear mission and all the tools they need to complete the job – and then bring them home.

* Ensure our veterans receive the care, benefits, and honors they have earned when they return.

* Revitalize the military for the 21st century by eliminating waste in a trillion-dollar military budget.

* Prevent the TSA from forcing Americans to either be groped or ogled just to travel on an airplane and ultimately abolish the unconstitutional agency.

* Stop taking money from the middle class and the poor to give to rich dictators through foreign aid.

As President, Ron Paul’s national defense policy will ensure that the greatest nation in human history is strong, secure, and respected.

“Friedman Friday” (“Free to Choose” episode 3 – Anatomy of a Crisis. part 3 of 7)

Worse still, America’s depression was to become worldwide because of what lies behind these doors.
This is the vault of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Inside is the largest horde of gold in the world. Because the world was on a gold standard in 1929, these vaults, where the U.S. gold was stored, provide an excellent test of where the depression originated. If the depression had started in Europe or somewhere else in the world, the U.S. would have lost gold, more gold would have flown out of the country then came in. If, on the other hand, the depression started in the United States, the opposite would happen. More gold would come in from abroad as the effects of our depression spread there then went out abroad, in reality that is exactly what happened.
When the international money system was based on gold, the rules of the game were these. The gold in the United States was supposed to control the amount of money issued by the Federal Reserve. In turn, the amount the Federal Reserve issued controlled the amount of money issued by the commercial banks which in turn controlled the amount of money that individuals, businesses and industry could get from the banks. The result, a monetary structure all supposedly tied to the amount of gold in the vaults in the United States. But in 1930 the Federal Reserve didn’t play by the rules. It stood by as banks started to collapse and with each one that went the money supply fell. Businesses and industry inevitably began to fail. Americans, now poor, bought less from abroad. Britain was one of the countries effected. Like the United States, Britain had its own monetary structure tied to gold. The trouble was that Britain could now sell less abroad. It cut down the amount it bought from abroad but not by enough. Under the rules of the gold standard, it had to pay the difference in gold. With every bar of gold that was shipped out of Britain, the amount of money decreased.
A depression that was already underway in Britain got worse. British gold flowed into the United States, supposedly to form the foundation of a new slice of the monetary structure. But the Federal Reserve didn’t let it. The gold was simply locked away. The results, Britain remained in trouble until in 1931 it went off the gold standard cutting the link between the amount of gold and the amount of money. In the United States, suffering the worst depression in history, there was plenty of gold, but to no avail.
Although these events happened almost 50 years ago, many of our policies today derived directly from them. Central bankers throughout the world, government officials everywhere, are afraid of a new great depression. They, have therefore, moved the opposite direction. Instead of the problem of too little money, we are faced with the problem of too much money. The problems of inflation that plagues us today trace directly from the problem of deflation that plagued us from 1929 to 1933.
People came to believe that free market capitalism had failed. Something was needed to replace it. At Cambridge University in England, a new orthodoxy emerged in the 30’s one that has remained powerful to this day.
It owes its influence to the brilliance of one man. John Manrd Kane was unquestionably one of the greatest economists of all time. Like other economists of his generation, he found The Great Depression both a paradox and a challenge. It was a paradox because it seemed to contradict some of the fundamental principles that economists have come to take for granted. Kane rose to the challenge by constructing a complex and sophisticated hypothesis which not only explained what had been going on, but also offered a way out way to end The Great Depression and to avoid similar episodes in the future. The core of his theory was that what happened to the quantity of money didn’t matter. What really mattered was a particular category of spending. In economists jargon, autonomous spending. What kind of spending is that? It might be investment by business enterprises in building factories and adding to the number of machines and adding to inventories. It might be spending by individuals to build houses. Or, most important of all, it might be deficit spending by government. If private spending on investment, on house building, is not enough to maintain full employment, then government could always step in and spend enough to make up the difference. The theory of pump priming was born. The theory was a godsend to politicians who had been grasping at any expedient. After all, throughout the ages, politicians had been only too willing to spend money provided they didn’t have to tax their citizens to pay for it. And here along came a scientific theory offered under the most responsible of auspices that justified what they had been wanting to do all along. Is it any wonder that government spending has exploded ever since or that deficit spending, even without the excuse of war, and on a large scale, has become the order of the day?
In America, the new Roosevelt administration adopted the Keynesian approach. It authorized massive spending on government projects. It involved government increasingly in the running of the economy. It developed programs designed to provide security for every individual. In England too, the idea that only the government could bolster the economy was firmly established as this film at the time makes clear.
With the assistance of the national government, work was restarted on the great Granada, 534. And we all hope that this is a prelude to a period of increasing prosperity in the industry. Exports of cotton goods to India have increased and as a result of the quota system in the colonies, which the national government introduced in order to diminish the dangers of Japanese competition, exports of cotton good to those colonies have been more than doubled. One of the most important contributions which the national government has made toward the improvement of social conditions has been a housing campaign without parallel in our history.
Though some of these measures may have been useful and indeed needed during the depression years, the length to which they have since then carried would have horrified Kane.
Kane died in 1946. I have always regarded it as a tragedy that they did not live another decade. He was the one man who had the standing, the personality, the force of character to persuade his disciples not to carry too far some ideas which were good for the 1930’s but which did not apply in the post war situation. That he might have done so is suggested by an article he wrote just before his death. The last article he ever wrote published after his death. In that article he expressed strong reservations about the lengths to which some of his disciples had been carrying his ideas. If he had been able, if he had lived another decade, the postwar inflationary explosion might have been av

Reasons why Mark Pryor will be defeated in 2014 (Part 9)

It is apparent from this statement below that Senator Mark Pryor is against the Balanced Budget Amendment. He has voted against it over and over like his father did and now I will give reasons in this series why Senator Pryor will be defeated in his re-election bid in 2014. However, first I wanted to quote the statement Senator Pryor gave on December 14, 2011. This information below is from the Arkansas Times Blog on 12-14-11 and Max Brantley:

THREE CHEERS FOR MARK PRYOR: Our senator voted not once, but twice, today against one of the hoariest (and whoriest) of Republican gimmicks, a balanced budget amendment. Let’s quote him:

As H.L. Mencken once said, “For every complex problem there is a solution which is simple, clean, and wrong.” This quote describes the balanced budget amendment. While a balanced budget amendment makes for an easy talking point, it is an empty solution. Moreover, it’s a reckless choice that handcuffs our ability to respond to an economic downturn or national emergencies without massive tax increases or throwing everyone off Medicare, Social Security, or veteran’s care.There is a more responsible alternative to balance the budget. President Clinton led the way in turning deficits into record surpluses. We have that same opportunity today, using the blueprint provided by the debt commission as a starting point. We need to responsibly cut spending, reform our tax code and create job growth. This course requires hard choices over a number of years. However, it offers a more balanced approach over jeopardizing safety net programs and opportunity for robust economic growth.


Mark Pryor will be defeated for his re-election because he is involved constantly in cover votes!!! Take a look at the video below and the discussion of a cover vote concerning the Balanced Budget Amendment. Look at the excellent article below concerning the history of the Balanced Budget Amendment votes of the past. OVER AND OVER POLITICIANS HAVE TRIED TO COVER THEMSELVES WHEN WHAT THEY REALLY WANT TO DO IS TO SPEND LOTS OF OUR KIDS’ MONEY THAT THEY WILL HAVE TO PAY BACK.


Considering a Balanced Budget Amendment: Lessons from History

July 14, 2011


Abstract: Attempts at passing a balanced budget amendment (BBA) date back to the 1930s, and all have been unsuccessful. Both parties carry some of the blame: The GOP too often has been neglectful of the issue, and the Democratic Left, recognizing a threat to big government, has stalled and obfuscated, attempting to water down any proposals to mandate balanced budgets. On the occasion of the July 2011 vote on a new proposed BBA, former Representative from Oklahoma Ernest Istook presents lessons from history.

A proposed balanced budget amendment (BBA) to the Constitution is set to be considered by Congress this July—the first such vote since 1997.

The BBA is a powerful proposal that attracts great vitriol from the American Left, which recognizes it as an enormous threat to its big-government ways—perhaps the greatest threat. For that reason, the history of Congress’s work on a BBA is full of frustrations, high-profile defections, reversals, and betrayals.

This paper discusses that history. It also describes some of the milktoast versions and amendments that have been offered to gut the BBA while providing political cover for those who are unwilling to support a robust version.

Brief History

Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1798, “I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our Constitution. I would be willing to depend on that alone for the reduction of the administration of our government; I mean an additional article taking from the Federal Government the power of borrowing.”[1] Yet according to the Congressional Research Service,[2] the first balanced budget amendment was not proposed until 1936, when Representative Harold Knutson (R–MN) introduced House Joint Resolution 579, proposing a per capita limit on federal debt.

No BBA measure passed either body of Congress until 1982, when the Senate took 11 days to consider it and mustered the necessary two-thirds majority on the version crafted by Senator Strom Thurmond (R–SC).[3] A companion measure received a vote of 236 to 187 in the House—short of the required two-thirds. Despite opposition from Speaker Thomas “Tip” O’Neill (D–MA), the floor vote was obtained by means of a discharge petition led by Representatives Barber Conable (R–NY) and Ed Jenkins (D–GA).[4]

Subsequently, continuing opposition from Speaker O’Neill and his successor, Jim Wright (D–TX), prompted creative use of discharge petitions to circumvent leadership opposition. Several House votes were held in the early 1990s, when Representative Charles Stenholm (D–TX) led bipartisan coalitions to force Democratic leaders to permit (unsuccessful) floor votes. At the time, even prominent Democrats such as Representative Joseph Kennedy (MA) openly supported the BBA and voted for it. There were multiple House and Senate votes, but all were unsuccessful.[5]

The first and only time the House gave two-thirds approval to a balanced budget amendment was in 1995, when Members voted for the “Contract with America” that helped Republicans win major congressional majorities. That was the last time the House held a floor or committee vote. Since then, the Senate has failed twice—each time by a single vote—to gather the two-thirds needed.[6]

Defections Block BBA Approval

Three Senators were the key defectors who prevented Congress from approving a balanced budget amendment in the 1990s. One actually had never supported it and bucked his party to oppose it. The other two flip-flopped in order to go along with their party in opposing the BBA.

First, in 1995, Senator Mark Hatfield (R–OR) took the heat when he would not join his party in support of a BBA. But Hatfield’s vote would have been unnecessary had Senator Tom Daschle (D–SD) not reversed years of prior support to oppose the BBA at President Bill Clinton’s urging.

Then, in 1997, the measure again failed by a single vote in the Senate when newly elected Senator Robert Torricelli (D–NJ) broke his campaign pledge and refused to support the same BBA that he had supported as a House member.[7]

More recently, many House Democrats who voted for the BBA in 1995 are now saying they will vote no in 2011. Most notable among these is House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D–MD).

Senate Defections

Senator Hatfield called the BBA a “political gimmick,” and his high-profile defection broke GOP party unity. Less noticed was that his opposition could have been a moot point. Then-Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R–KS) told The New York Times that Hatfield offered to resign before the vote—a resignation that would have produced a 66-to-33 victory for the BBA—but Dole refused to accept the resignation offer.[8]

Still, with or without Hatfield’s vote or resignation, the BBA would have prevailed in the 1995 Senate vote were it not for Senator Daschle’s reversal. That flip-flop is described in a book about his later ousting from office by the voters:

Although the balanced budget amendment had not been a major issue nationally for several years, it provided a striking contrast between Daschle’s first campaign in 1978 and his early career in Congress, when he consistently promoted the amendment, and his later years in the Senate. During his last competitive Senate bid in 1986, Daschle ran a television ad saying that “in 1979, Tom Daschle saw the damage these deficits could do to our country. His first official act was to sponsor a Constitutional amendment to balance the budget.” In 1992, Daschle’s campaign literature touted the “Daschle Plan,” which included the balanced budget amendment: “In 1979, before it became popular, I was pushing a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. It was my first official action, and I’ve authored or coauthored one every year.” In 1995, the amendment had the support of sixty-six of the sixty-seven senators needed for passage, but Daschle voted against it because of opposition from the Clinton administration…. When pressed on the amendment in the last [2004] television debate, Daschle said that he had opposed the bill in the 1990s because there were no provisions in the amendment allowing for emergencies such as war. But the record showed that there was an emergency clause.[9]

In 2011, Daschle has penned several articles denouncing the BBA, complaining that it would make the country’s fiscal crisis even worse and would tie lawmakers’ hands.[10]

The 1997 effort to approve the BBA failed in the Senate by a single vote, just as it had in 1995. This time it was Senator Torricelli doing the political acrobatics. As the New York Daily News described it:

Sen. Robert Torricelli (D–N.J.) yesterday announced he will vote against the balanced budget amendment to the Constitution giving Democrats the one-vote margin they need to kill it. The freshman senator flipped on his campaign pledge to support the amendment and on his own past voting record in the House in favor of similar proposals. “I have struggled with this decision more than any I have ever made in my life,” Torricelli said…

Torricelli acknowledged that he had campaigned in support of the amendment to win his Senate seat last year and had voted three times in favor of similar amendments as a House member. But he said President Clinton’s efforts in bringing down annual budget deficits from $300 billion to $100 billion, and the President’s commitment to a balanced budget by 2002, had relieved the pressure for a constitutional amendment.[11]

Trying to give himself political cover, Torricelli tried but failed to get the Senate to support a loophole-riddled version.

House Reversals

Chief among Representatives who supported a BBA in 1995 but say they will actively oppose it in 2011 is Representative Hoyer. In 1995, he even helped to garner votes for the BBA. As the Baltimore Sun reported at the time, “‘The issue of a balanced budget is not a conservative one or a liberal one, and it is not an easy one,’ said Mr. Hoyer, who said he fears the consequences of a national debt that is headed toward $5 trillion. ‘But it is an essential one.’”[12] Arguing for the BBA on the House floor in 1995, Hoyer said:

[T]his country confronts a critical threat caused by the continuation of large annual deficits…. I am absolutely convinced that the long term consequences of refusing to come to grips with the necessity to balance our budget will be catastrophic…. [T]hose who will pay the highest price for our fiscal irresponsibility, should we fail, will be those least able to protect themselves, and the children of today and the generations of tomorrow.[13]

Hoyer reversed course after rising to high leadership within his party, as did Daschle. Daschle did a turnaround against the same language he previously had supported. Hoyer, however, argued that the latest 2011 version (with tax limitation and size-of-government limits) had gone beyond what he originally supported in 1995:

It would require drastic and harmful cuts to programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, programs that form the heart of America’s social compact…. Unlike previous balanced budget amendments, this amendment would mean great pain for ordinary Americans, even as it shielded the most privileged from any comparable sacrifice. It is not a solution to our nation’s pressing fiscal challenges.[14]

It is an open question how other Democrats who supported the 1995 version of the BBA will vote on the tougher 2011 version.[15] They include another member of the current Democratic House leadership, James Clyburn (SC).

The GOP was also guilty of abandoning the BBA—by neglect. The BBA had been the number one item on its Contract with America legislative agenda in 1994, but after the single (and successful) 1995 House vote, House GOP leaders refused all entreaties to bring it up again. No House or Senate vote has been held since Torricelli’s dramatic about-face in 1997.

For part of the time while Republican leaders were dormant on a BBA, the budget was balanced. Rather than spotting an opportunity to cement that condition into a permanent requirement, however, some saw it as proving that a BBA is not needed.

During that time when the federal budget was balanced without a BBA requirement (fiscal years 1998–2001),[16] Congress had political incentives to maintain that balance. However, after 9/11, Washington not only ramped up national security spending, but also let other spending rise significantly. The prevailing notion seemed to be that if the budget was not balanced, then it mattered little just how far out of balance it was.

That experience illustrates not only the need for a proper BBA, but also the need for any national security exceptions to be drafted narrowly, to permit deficits only to the extent necessary to provide for non-routine defense circumstances and not to justify unrelated deficit spending.

Watering Down the BBA

The versions of the BBA to be voted on in 2011 are improvements over the Contract with America. Because of this strengthening, the current versions are described herein as “BBA-plus.”[17]

Simply put, the additional features require a supermajority to raise taxes; create limits on the level of federal spending (as a percentage of the national economy); tighten the permitted and limited exceptions to a balanced budget; and limit the potential for judicially imposed tax increases as a means of enforcement.

According to their strictness, different variations in proposed texts could be considered good, better, and best, with a full-featured BBA-plus being the best. But the greater the strictures, the more difficult passage becomes. Many pro-BBA lawmakers have therefore introduced and supported versions that were not as strong as they prefer but have greater likelihood of adoption.

These variations also create potential for mischief. Because they recognize the huge popular support for the BBA, many opponents have attempted to offer amendments and variations that would water down or emasculate the provisions of the BBA so that they could posture as supporters while justifying their “no” votes. The following is a historical synopsis of those tactics.

Taking Social Security Off-Budget. The most prominently advanced effort to weaken a BBA is a provision to separate Social Security payments and receipts from the requirements for a balanced budget. Amendments to do so were offered in both the House and Senate from 1995 to 1997. Senator Harry Reid (D–NV) was a principal leader of that effort in 1997.

Reid and others argued that removing Social Security from a BBA would protect the program from spending cuts. They argued that its funds do not actually constitute government spending since the program involves a trust fund. This ignored the fact that the entirety of the trust fund has been invested in federal bonds and that all of the borrowed money has been spent. Furthermore, during the 1990s, the Social Security program was producing annual surpluses ranging from $60 billion to $65 billion, which disguised deficit spending elsewhere. Today, Social Security runs an annual deficit.

If Social Security were removed from a BBA’s requirements, Congress would be approving major deficit spending while not counting it as a deficit. Politicians would only be pretending to have balanced the budget. As the Congressional Budget Office reported this past January, “Excluding interest, surpluses for Social Security become deficits of $45 billion in 2011 and $547 billion over the 2012–2021 period.”[18]

The Torricelli Ploy. As previously mentioned, the most transparent ploy to create an excuse for opposing the BBA came in 1997 from newly elected Senator Robert Torricelli. As a House member, he had voted for a substitute version and also voted “yea” on final passage of the Contract with America BBA in 1995. He campaigned for the Senate in 1996 as a BBA supporter.

As heads were counted for the 1997 Senate vote, it was apparent that Torricelli and Senator Mary Landrieu (D–LA), both previous BBA supporters, were the swing votes. If both voted “yea,” the necessary two-thirds would be achieved in the Senate. President Clinton lobbied both Senators to vote “nay.” Landrieu announced that she would vote yes, and Torricelli announced that he would vote no. Reporters openly asked him whether “he drew the short straw.”

In a move that was publicly derided, Torricelli offered an amendment to the BBA on the Senate floor and then announced he would vote no because the amendment failed. Then, minutes later in a news conference, he undercut his own explanation by stating that in the future, he would vote no on all Republican versions of a BBA and yes on all Democratic versions.

Torricelli’s unsuccessful amendment would have waived the balanced budget requirement whenever a simple majority in Congress declared “an imminent and serious military threat” or “a period of economic recession or significant economic hardship” or when Congress chose to approve deficit spending for “investments in major public physical capital that provides long-term economic benefits.”[19] The three-pronged nature of Torricelli’s effort was a lumping together of provisions that were also offered separately in both the House and Senate by others.

Other Diluting Amendments. The following is a sampling of other proposals offered on the House or Senate floors during the 1995–1997 considerations:[20]

  • Representative Robert Wise (D–WV) offered a multifaceted substitute that would have provided for separate federal capital and operating budgets; would have required that only the operating budget be balanced; would have exempted Social Security from balanced budget calculations; and would have permitted Congress to waive the balanced budget provisions in times of war, military conflict, or recession.
  • Senator Richard Durbin (D–IL) tried to insert the following language into the BBA: “The provisions of this article may be waived for any fiscal year in which there is an economic recession or serious economic emergency in the United States as declared by a joint resolution, adopted by a majority of the whole number of each House, which becomes law.”
  • Senator Barbara Boxer (D–CA) proposed, “The provisions of this article may be waived for any fiscal year in which there is a declaration made by the President (and a designation by the Congress) that a major disaster or emergency exists, adopted by a majority vote in each House of those present and voting.”
  • Representative Major Owens (D–NY) wanted “to allow a majority of Congress to waive the balanced budget provisions contained in the joint resolution in any fiscal year that the national unemployment rate exceeds 4 percent.”
  • Representative John Conyers (D–MI) wanted to require a detailed plan of spending cuts before balance could be required, proposing “to exempt Social Security from balanced budget calculations; and provide that before the constitutional amendment could take effect, Congress would be required to pass legislation showing what the budget will be for the fiscal years 1996 through 2002, containing aggregate levels of new budget authority, outlays, reserves, and the deficit and surplus, as well as new budget authority and outlays on an account-by-account basis.”
  • Representative David Bonior (D–MI) tried not only to exempt Social Security from the calculations, but also to require only a simple constitutional majority vote (218 in the House, 51 in the Senate) to allow deficit spending.
  • Additional amendments were more straightforward, such as whether a supermajority would or would not be required to raise taxes under the BBA. The House Rules Committee screened out 38 proposed floor amendments; only six were permitted.


History shows that the potency of a balanced budget amendment attracts fervent efforts to confuse the issues, especially by creating counterfeit versions and exceptions to provide political cover. Proponents of a BBA should prepare accordingly.

If not for high-profile political defections in the mid-1990s, the BBA would have been approved by Congress. Had it then been ratified by the requisite three-fourths of the states, today’s debates over borrowing limits, entitlements, and spending levels would be greatly different, if not absent.

However, the versions considered in the ’90s were notably weaker than both the House and Senate versions of the BBA-plus now being considered. Had an earlier version been adopted, today’s debate might be about efforts by Congress to evade the spirit of the BBA by exploiting loopholes in that earlier version. This is why vigilance is necessary to prevent the insertion of loopholes into the language of a BBA-plus.

Those who do not learn from the failures of history are doomed to repeat them.

The Honorable Ernest J. Istook, Jr., a former Member of Congress, is Distinguished Fellow in Government Studies in the Department of Government Studies at The Heritage Foundation.

Reasons why Mark Pryor will be defeated in 2014 (Part 8)

It is apparent from this statement below that Senator Mark Pryor is against the Balanced Budget Amendment. He has voted against it over and over like his father did and now I will give reasons in this series why Senator Pryor will be defeated in his re-election bid in 2014. However, first I wanted to quote the statement Senator Pryor gave on December 14, 2011. This information below is from the Arkansas Times Blog on 12-14-11 and Max Brantley:

THREE CHEERS FOR MARK PRYOR: Our senator voted not once, but twice, today against one of the hoariest (and whoriest) of Republican gimmicks, a balanced budget amendment. Let’s quote him:

As H.L. Mencken once said, “For every complex problem there is a solution which is simple, clean, and wrong.” This quote describes the balanced budget amendment. While a balanced budget amendment makes for an easy talking point, it is an empty solution. Moreover, it’s a reckless choice that handcuffs our ability to respond to an economic downturn or national emergencies without massive tax increases or throwing everyone off Medicare, Social Security, or veteran’s care.There is a more responsible alternative to balance the budget. President Clinton led the way in turning deficits into record surpluses. We have that same opportunity today, using the blueprint provided by the debt commission as a starting point. We need to responsibly cut spending, reform our tax code and create job growth. This course requires hard choices over a number of years. However, it offers a more balanced approach over jeopardizing safety net programs and opportunity for robust economic growth.



Furthermore, it does his best to guard this secret so he can continue to spend like crazy. The only thing that can stop this is a Balanced Budget Amendment and he knows it.

New CBO Numbers Re-Confirm that Balancing the Budget Is Simple with Modest Fiscal Restraint

Posted by Daniel J. Mitchell

Many of the politicians in Washington, including President Obama during his State of the Union address, piously tell us that there is no way to balance the budget without tax increases. Trying to get rid of red ink without higher taxes, they tell us, would require “savage” and “draconian” budget cuts.

I would like to slash the budget and free up resources for private-sector growth, so that sounds good to me. But what’s the truth?

The Congressional Budget Office has just released its 10-year projections for the budget, so I crunched the numbers to determine what it would take to balance the budget without tax hikes. Much to nobody’s surprise, the politicians are not telling the truth.

The chart below shows that revenues are expected to grow (because of factors such as inflation, more population, and economic expansion) by more than 7 percent each year. Balancing the budget is simple so long as politicians increase spending at a slower rate. If they freeze the budget, we almost balance the budget by 2017. If federal spending is capped so it grows 1 percent each year, the budget is balanced in 2019. And if the crowd in Washington can limit spending growth to about 2 percent each year, red ink almost disappears in just 10 years.

These numbers, incidentally, assume that the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts are made permanent (they are now scheduled to expire in two years). They also assume that the AMT is adjusted for inflation, so the chart shows that we can balance the budget without any increase in the tax burden.

I did these calculations last year, and found the same results. And I also examined how we balanced the budget in the 1990s and found that spending restraint was the key. The combination of a GOP Congress and Bill Clinton in the White House led to a four-year period of government spending growing by an average of just 2.9 percent each year.

We also have international evidence showing that spending restraint – not higher taxes – is the key to balancing the budget. New Zealand got rid of a big budget deficit in the 1990s with a five-year spending freeze. Canada also got rid of red ink that decade with a five-year period where spending grew by an average of only 1 percent per year. And Ireland slashed its deficit in the late 1980s by 10 percentage points of GDP with a four-year spending freeze.

No wonder international bureaucracies such as the International Monetary fund and European Central Bank are producing research showing that spending discipline is the right approach

Daniel J. Mitchell • January 27, 2011 @ 12:00 pm
Filed under: Government and Politics; Health Care; Tax and Budge

Spending cuts proposed by Republican presidential candidates

I have talked a lot about spending cuts on this blog. Here is a great article on this very subject:

A Guide to the Presidential Candidates’ Proposals to Cut Spending

Posted by Tad DeHaven

Over at Downsizing the Federal Government, Chris Edwards and I have regularly complained that most policymakers have been insufficiently specific when it comes to identifying spending cuts. With the Republican primaries about to get underway, it’s a good time to see what the current crop of presidential aspirants has to offer.

There are multiple ways to skin this cat, but I decided to put together a comparison table based solely on the content found on each candidate’s campaign website. I did not consider past statements or votes, the televised debates, or outside sources (unless linked to by a campaign’s website). The idea is that statements on each candidate’s website should offer the clearest indication of their intentions should they become president.

Ron Paul is the only candidate who actually produced a proposed federal budget. Therefore, I started with his template and added additional agencies/programs cited on the websites of the other candidates. Again, the idea is to show specifically what the candidates are proposing to cut. Thus, proposed spending reforms such as a Balanced Budget Amendment or a spending cap are not included.

There is a degree of subjectivity in putting this together, but I tried to be fair and consistent. It is for informational purposes only (i.e., it should not be construed as an endorsement of any candidate(s)). Finally, it is possible that proposals were missed, but that could be a reflection of a website’s accessibility to pertinent information.

The following are brief overviews for each candidate (in alphabetical order):

Michele Bachmann

  • Bachmann says she “supports abolishing the federal Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Education.” However, she does not say if all of those agencies’ functions would be abolished.
  • Bachmann says she “voted for the Ryan Plan to make sure that Medicare is secure for future generations” but that “the Ryan Plan is just the very first step on health reform, and I voted for it with an asterisk with further reforms in mind.”
  • Bachmann’s statements on foreign policy portend increased military spending.

The number of specific spending cuts on Bachmann’s website is paltry and it’s evident that she supports increased military spending given her hawkish statements on foreign policy.

Newt Gingrich

  • Gingrich supports federal subsidies for agriculture and energy, but says that most of the Department of Education’s “responsibilities and positions will be eliminated.”
  • On the issue of foreign policy, Gingrich says “Think Big.” Gingrich’s statements on foreign policy portend increased military spending.
  • Gingrich offers a 49-page white paper on entitlement and welfare reform. Proposed reforms to Social Security include personal savings accounts. Medicare reforms include providing premium support for the purchase of private health insurance. Medicaid would “ideally” be block-granted to the states. In addition, the paper lists 184 federal means-tested programs that would be block granted.

Gingrich’s website provides a lot of information, but his spending proposals are a mixed-bag. He is heavy on ideas and reforms, but it appears that the federal government’s hand would also remain heavy. In addition, the budgetary effects of Gingrich’s proposals are murky. For instance, he proposes to replace the Environmental Protection Agency with a “pro-growth” Environmental Solutions Agency.

Jon Huntsman

  • In an op-ed linked from his website, Huntsman appears to endorse ending “unaffordable subsidies for agriculture and energy.” The website also says that Huntsman will “adopt a comprehensive energy strategy that frees us from foreign oil, that eliminates all energy subsidies, and that levels the playing field for competing fuels and technologies.”
  • Huntsman says that he “will reform entitlement programs – based on the Ryan Plan – while holding true to our nation’s commitments to those in or near retirement.” It is not clear what reforms to Social Security he would embrace.
  • Huntsman’s statements on military spending and foreign policy are more reserved than the hawkish tenor exhibited by the rest of the field – Ron Paul and Gary Johnson excluded.

Huntsman doesn’t offer much when it comes to specific spending cuts. The absence of specifics and details leaves a lot of question marks. Huntsman does not propose any spending increases and his relatively reserved views on foreign policy indicate that military spending cuts could be possible.

Gary Johnson

  • Johnson calls for repealing the Medicare prescription drug benefit and block-granting the entire program – along with Medicaid – to the states. On Social Security, he only proposes to “fix Social Security by changing the escalator from being based on wage growth to inflation.”
  • Johnson says the government should “stop spending on the fiscal stimulus, transportation, energy, housing, and all other special interests.” He also proposes to “reduce or eliminate federal involvement in education” and end “unnecessary farm subsidies.” And Johnson’s proposal to rein in the failed “war on drugs” would generate savings at the Department of Homeland Security.
  • Johnson proposes to bring the troops home from Afghanistan and an end to nation-building. He clearly envisions a less interventionist foreign policy, which should translate into reduced military spending.

Johnson embraces a sizable reduction in the scope of the federal government’s activities, but more details and elaboration would be helpful – especially on entitlement programs. Johnson’s intentions on foreign policy are best encapsulated by his statement that “it’s time to recognize that you can’t have limited government at home, but big government abroad.” Overall, Johnson’s spending proposals reflect a vision for a federal government more limited in size and scope.

Ron Paul

  • Paul’s “Plan to Restore America” would eliminate the departments of Commerce, Education, Energy, Housing & Urban Development, and Interior. Numerous agencies and programs would be eliminated or cut.
  • Paul supports allowing younger people to opt-out of Social Security and Medicare. Medicaid and other mandatory programs like food stamps would be block-granted to the states. Funding would be cut and froze. Further elaboration on his ideas for Social Security and Medicare would be helpful.
  • Paul proposes to end all foreign aid. Military spending cuts would be achieved by bringing troops home from overseas and pursuing a non-interventionist foreign policy.

When it comes to proposing specific spending cuts and identifying the dollars amounts, Paul’s website is unrivaled. He is the only candidate to put together an actual budget proposal. Paul’s spending proposals would amount to the largest reduction in the size and scope of the federal government of any candidate.

Rick Perry

  • Perry proposes to eliminate the departments of Commerce, Education, and Energy. However, he is not proposing that all of the functions contained within those departments be eliminated. For example, Perry proposes “block-granting all funding for elementary and secondary education,” which means federal taxpayers would still be on the hook.
  • Perry’s proposals on entitlements are consistent with the GOP field. Proposed Social Security reforms include the creation of personal retirement accounts for younger workers. He would block-grant Medicaid to the states and Medicare would be “reformed” to be “sustainable for the long-term.”
  • In comparison to economic issues, Perry has relatively little to say on foreign policy. Although Perry does not strike the hawkish tone of other GOP candidates, there’s nothing on his website to suggest that he’ll rein in military spending.

Like Gingrich, Perry’s website contains a healthy amount of content. Perry deserves credit for offering specific spending cuts and elaborating on why he believes those cuts would be prudent. However, unlike Paul, Perry proposes to eliminate departments without also eliminating the functions contained within them. And unlike Johnson and Paul, Perry does not embrace a reduced U.S. military presence abroad, which implies that he would not rein in military spending.

Mitt Romney

  • Romney’s “Plan for Jobs and Economic Growth” is 87 pages long. Nine pages are devoted to fiscal policy. Those nine pages don’t offer much in the way of specific spending cuts. Romney does suggest some good cuts, but they are not large in budgetary terms.
  • When it comes to entitlements, Romney has virtually nothing to say on Social Security. He does propose block-granting Medicaid to the states. On Medicare, Romney says “the plan put forward by Congressman Paul Ryan makes important strides in the right direction by keeping the system solvent and introducing market-based dynamics.” Romney then says that his “own plan will differ, but it will share those objectives.”
  • The foreword to Romney’s 44-page paper on foreign policy was written by the prominent neoconservative, Eliot Cohen. It’s safe to say that military spending would not be threatened on Romney’s watch.

Despite the fact that Romney’s website offers a lot of content, he doesn’t offer many specifics when it comes to spending. The spending cuts that Romney does specify are not easily found on his website. They are also relatively small cuts that would have little effect on the size and scope of the federal government. It’s also evident that Romney supports increased military spending.

Rick Santorum

  • Santorum’s website doesn’t offer many details or elaboration, but he does list a number of proposals to cut spending. For example, he proposes to “eliminate all agriculture and energy subsidies within four years letting the markets work.”
  • Santorum’s proposals for entitlement programs are vague: “reform Social Security and Medicare for sustainable retirements.” However, he does allude to having supported private retirement accounts in the past. He also proposes to “block grant Medicaid, Housing, Job Training, and other social services to the States.”
  • Santorum’s statements on foreign policy – arguably the most hawkish of the candidates – clearly indicate that he favors increases in military spending.

Santorum’s statements on foreign policy put him at odds with Johnson’s view that “you can’t have limited government at home, but big government abroad.” However, he does suggest broad spending cuts – although more details and elaboration would be helpful.

Cato Institute: Government spending is 41% of GDP

Cato Institute: Government spending is 41% of GDP

I love the Cato Institute because they give us the facts that liberals just can’t refute. Instead of trying to raise our taxes, President Obama should be cutting spending.

American Government Spending: 41% of GDP

Posted by Chris Edwards

My good friend Kathy Ruffing at CBPP takes me to task for testifying that government spending in the United States is 41 percent of GDP, which in my view is a very high and harmful level.

Kathy says that recent U.S. spending data is “exaggerated” because of the recession, and indeed, spending has soared not only here, but in most major countries because of the unfortunate popularity of Keynesian pump-priming theories. My point was that the American smaller-government advantage eroded both during the Bush growth years and during the Obama recession years, as seen in Figure 2 of my testimony.  

Kathy noted that the OECD data I used are different than U.S. national income accounts data published by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Well, that’s right. Every country has quirks in the way they do their national income data. The advantage of using OECD data is that the economists at the OECD adjust for these quirks and create spending data that is comparable across countries. If Kathy has more accurate international comparisons, I’d love to see them.

Finally, Kathy says that just because American government spending divided by GDP is about 40 percent, that “doesn’t mean that government controls about 40 percent of the U.S.economy.” I don’t agree. She means that government does not produce 40 percent of gross domestic product, which is true. The broader figure of 40 or 41 percent includes not just government production but government transfers. And transfers do entail government control over resources because both the taxing and spending activities involved in transfer programs distort private sector behavior. Thus, the government misallocates resources both when it “produces” useless solar power activities in its own labs and when it subsidizes failed private solar companies.   

Anyway, thanks to Kathy for raising the important issue of the overall size of government because it is something that the policy community should focus more attention on. For data geeks, the OECD has all kinds of cross-country comparison data here. Government spending is Table 25.

Federal Spending per Household Is Skyrocketing

Everyone wants to know more about the budget and here is some key information with a chart from the Heritage Foundation and a video from the Cato Institute.

The federal government is spending more per household than ever before. Since 1965, spending per household has grown by nearly 162 percent, from $11,431 in 1965 to $29,401 in 2010. From 2010 to 2021, it is projected to rise to $35,773, a 22 percent increase.



Federal Spending per Household Is Skyrocketing

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, White House Office of Management and Budget, and Congressional Budget Office.

Chart 1 of 42

In Depth

  • Policy Papers for Researchers

  • Technical Notes

    The charts in this book are based primarily on data available as of March 2011 from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The charts using OMB data display the historical growth of the federal government to 2010 while the charts using CBO data display both historical and projected growth from as early as 1940 to 2084. Projections based on OMB data are taken from the White House Fiscal Year 2012 budget. The charts provide data on an annual basis except… Read More

  • Authors

    Emily GoffResearch Assistant
    Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy StudiesKathryn NixPolicy Analyst
    Center for Health Policy StudiesJohn FlemingSenior Data Graphics Editor

Ron Paul on Jay Leno (part 1)

I saw Ron Paul on Jay Leno last night:

As President, Ron Paul will lead the way out of this crisis by:

* Vetoing any unbalanced budget Congress sends to his desk.

* Refusing to further raise the debt ceiling so politicians can no longer spend recklessly.

* Fighting to fully audit (and then end) the Federal Reserve System, which has enabled the over 95% reduction of what our dollar can buy and continues to create money out of thin air to finance future debt.

* Legalizing sound money, so the government is forced to get serious about the dollar’s value.

* Ending the corporate stranglehold on the White House.

* Driving down gas prices by allowing offshore drilling, abolishing highway motor fuel taxes, increasing the mileage reimbursement rates, and offering tax credits to individuals and businesses for the use and production of natural gas vehicles.

* Eliminating the income, capital gains, and death taxes to ensure you keep more of your hard-earned money and are able to pass on your legacy to your family without government interference.

* Opposing all unfunded mandates and unnecessary regulations on small businesses and entrepreneurs.

These are just a few of the steps we can take to put America back in place as the world’s leading economy.  Taking a stand for these principles has often been a lonely fight in Congress for Ron Paul, but, now more than ever, our nation needs a President who will champion sound money, responsible spending, lower taxes, and free market enterprise.