Tag Archives: balanced budget amendment

Reasons why Mark Pryor will be defeated in 2014 (Part 11)

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 not be re-elected in 2014 in part because he voted for a 900 billion stimulus bill in 2009. SENATOR PRYOR DOES NOT WANT THE BALANCED BUDGET AMENDMENT BECAUSE IT WOULD MAKE FUTURE STIMULUS BILLS UNLIKELY. BASICALLY PRYOR BELIEVES THAT GOVERNMENT IS THE SOLUTION TO ALL OUR PROBLEMS. WHY ELSE DID HE VOTE FOR THE FAILED STIMULUS IN 2009?

I have included an article below that makes a very good point about the Balanced Budget Amendment and the stimulus:

Lee believes there are several key components to a balanced budget amendment which he outlines in his book, including making tax increases contingent on a two-thirds vote in Congress so that the option to increase taxes is not the default maneuver to balance a budget. He believes the amendment should require Congress spends no more than it takes in, and in fact should cap the spending at a fixed percent of GDP (the proposal submitted in the Senate caps it at 18 percent of GDP, just about the historical average). There would also be a supermajority vote required to raise the debt ceiling.

And for those who argue that stimulus packages wouldn’t have been possible under the amendment, Lee sees little difficulty responding.

“That’s exibit A for why we ought to have it,” Lee said of the Obama stimulus package.

That is a very good point in favor of having a balanced budget amendment in my view. I have been critical of Pryor for supporting the stimulus in the past.

Lee Makes His Case for a Balanced Budget Amendment

By Elisabeth Meinecke

7/18/2011

As Washington spends the summer arguing over its spending addiction, GOP Sen. Mike Lee of Utah has a solution to help prevent the same crisis for future generations: a balanced budget amendment.

The House made news last week when, in the heat of negotiations over raising the debt ceiling, they announced a vote on a balanced budget amendment this Wednesday. Though the Senate GOP introduced a one earlier this year, President Obama has stated emphatically otherwise, telling Americans last week during a press conference that the country does not need a balanced budget amendment.

“Yes, we do,” Lee told Townhall when asked to respond to the president, adding later when talking about simultaneously raising the debt ceiling and cutting spending, “We can’t bind what a future Congress will do. We can pass laws that will affect this year, but there will be a new Congress that takes power in January of 2013, and then another new one that will take power in January 2015. And they will make their own spending decisions then — we can’t bind them unless we amend the Constitution to do so.”

Lee points out that the American people support the idea of a balanced budget – 65 percent, according to a Sachs/Mason Dixon poll from this year – but politicians have been reluctant to wade into the debate.

“The fact that we’re in this debate, the fact that we’re sort of deadlocked, or we’ve reached a point of gridlock in the discussions, is indicative of the problem that we have,” Lee said.

In fact, Lee thinks a balanced budget amendment is so important to the future of the country that he’s written a book on it: The Freedom Agenda: Why a Balanced Budget Amendment Is Necessary to Restore Constitutional Government.

Lee even takes the argument a step beyond fiscal issues, saying a balanced budget amendment safeguards individual liberties.

““The more money it [Congress] has access to, whether it’s through borrowing or through taxation, either way, that’s going to fuel Congress’ expansion, and whenever government acts, it does so at the expanse of individual liberty,” Lee said. “We become less free every time government expands.”

Lee believes there are several key components to a balanced budget amendment which he outlines in his book, including making tax increases contingent on a two-thirds vote in Congress so that the option to increase taxes is not the default maneuver to balance a budget. He believes the amendment should require Congress spends no more than it takes in, and in fact should cap the spending at a fixed percent of GDP (the proposal submitted in the Senate caps it at 18 percent of GDP, just about the historical average). There would also be a supermajority vote required to raise the debt ceiling.

And for those who argue that stimulus packages wouldn’t have been possible under the amendment, Lee sees little difficulty responding.

“That’s exibit A for why we ought to have it,” Lee said of the Obama stimulus package.

Lee also pointed out that his balanced budget amendment includes an exception to the spending restriction in time of war – “not a blank check, but to the extent necessary.” Congress would also be able to supersede the amendment with a two-thirds vote.

“We wanted to make it difficult, but not impossible, for Congress to spend more than it had access to,” Lee said, citing as an example a massive or immediate crisis created by a national emergency or natural disaster. “What this is designed to do is to make it more difficult – to make it impossible – for Congress to just do this as a matter of course.”

Elisabeth Meinecke

Elisabeth Meinecke is Associate Editor with Townhall.com

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.

____________________

Senator Mark Pryor will lose his bid for re-election in 2014 BECAUSE HE IS AFRAID TO TELL THE TRUTH ABOUT ENTITLEMENTS AND THEN TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THEIR FUTURE WHICH WILL BANKRUPT THIS NATION IF LEFT ALONE ANY LONGER.

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.

Dear Senator Pryor, why not pass the Balanced Budget Amendment? (“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.

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 Budget Policy

Reasons why Mark Pryor will be defeated in 2014 (Part 5)

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.

____________________

Senator Pryor will be defeated in 2014 BECAUSE HE IS OFTEN INVOLVED WITH DOUBLETALK INSTEAD OF MAKING THE HARD CHOICES THAT IT TAKES TO BALANCE THE BUDGET.  For instance, Senator Pryor said “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… 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, he is knows that “any sensible amendment proposal would feature a “safety valve” to exempt deficits incurred in response to such emergencies, requiring, for example, a three-fifths “super majority” in both houses of Congress…” as Dick Thornburgh has noted below. Furthermore, Thornburgh refutes the other potential problems Pryor has noted below.

There’s nothing nutty about a balanced-budget amendment
In fact, it makes a lot of sense
Thursday, July 21, 2011
By A late entry in the budget deficit-debt ceiling talkathon in Washington is increasing support for a constitutional requirement that the federal budget be balanced each and every year.

Doctrinaire liberals will no doubt characterize this proposal as a nutty one, but careful scrutiny of such an amendment to our Constitution demonstrates its potential to prevent future train wrecks in the budgeting process.

Coupled with a presidential line-item veto and separate capital budgeting (which differentiates investments from current outlays), a constitutional budget-balancing requirement makes sense. These tools already are available to most governors and state legislatures. And they work.

The current debate in the Congress will likely include the following arguments usually raised against a balanced-budget amendment.

First, it will be argued that the amendment would “clutter up” our basic document in a way contrary to the intention of the founding fathers.

This is clearly wrong. The framers of the Constitution contemplated that amendments would be necessary to keep it abreast of the times. It already has been amended on 27 occasions.

Moreover, at the time of the Constitutional Convention, one of the major preoccupations was how to liquidate the Revolutionary War debts of the states. Certainly, it would have been unthinkable to the framers that the federal government itself would systematically run at a deficit, decade after decade. Indeed, the Treasury did not begin to follow such a practice until the mid-1930s.

Second, critics will argue that the adoption of a balanced-budget amendment would not solve the deficit problem overnight.

This is correct, but begs the issue. Serious supporters of the amendment recognize that a phasing-in period of five or 10 years would be required to reach a zero deficit. During this interim period, however, budget makers would be disciplined to meet declining deficit targets in order to reach a balanced budget by the established deadline.

As pointed out by former Commerce Secretary Peter G. Peterson, such “steady progress toward eliminating the deficit will maintain investor confidence, keep long-term interest rates headed down and keep our economy growing.”

Third, it will be argued that such an amendment would require vast cuts in social services and entitlements or defense expenditures.

Not necessarily. True, these programs would have to be paid for on a current basis rather than heaped on the backs of upcoming generations. Certainly, difficult choices would have to be made about priorities and levels of program funding. But the very purpose of the amendment is to discipline the executive and legislative branches actually to debate these choices and not to propose or perpetuate vast spending programs without providing the revenues to fund them.

The amendment would, in effect, make the president and Congress fully accountable for their spending and taxing decisions, as they should be.

Fourth, critics will say that a balanced-budget amendment would prevent or hinder our capacity to respond to national defense or economic emergencies.

This concern is easy to counter. Any sensible amendment proposal would feature a “safety valve” to exempt deficits incurred in response to such emergencies, requiring, for example, a three-fifths “super majority” in both houses of Congress. Such action should, of course, be based on a finding that such an emergency actually exists.

Fifth, it will be said that a balanced-budget amendment would be “more loophole than law” and might be easily circumvented.

The experience of the states suggests otherwise. Balanced-budget requirements are now in effect in all but one of the 50 states and have served them well.

Moreover, the line-item veto, available to 43 governors, would assure that any specific congressional overruns (or loophole end-runs) could be dealt with by the president. The public’s outcry, the elective process and the courts would also provide backup restraint on any tendency to simply ignore a constitutional directive.

In the final analysis, most of the excuses raised for not enacting a constitutional mandate to balance the budget rest on a stated or implied preference for solving our deficit dilemma through the “political process” — that is to say, through responsible action by the president and Congress.

But that has been tried and found wanting, again and again.

Surely, this country is ready for a simple, clear and supreme directive that its elected officials fulfill their fiscal responsibilities. A constitutional amendment is the only instrument that will meet this need effectively. Years of experience at the state level argue persuasively in favor of such a step. Years of debate have produced no persuasive arguments against it.

Perhaps Thomas Jefferson put it best:

“To preserve our independence, we must not let our rulers load us down with perpetual debt.”

That is the aim of a balanced-budget amendment. Reform-minded members of Congress should choose to support such an amendment to our Constitution as a means of resolving future legislative crises and ending “credit card” government once and for all.

A nutty idea? Not by a long shot.

Dick Thornburgh, of counsel to the Pittsburgh law firm K&L Gates, is a former U.S. attorney general and governor of Pennsylvania.
First published on July 21, 2011 at 12:00 am

Dear Senator Pryor, why not pass the Balanced Budget Amendment? ( “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.

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.

Conclusion

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 4)

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.

____________________

Senator Pryor has continued to vote for budgets in the past that have allowed the federal government to spend an increasing amount of GDP. ONE OF THE MAIN REASONS PRYOR WILL BE DEFEATED IN 2014 IS THAT HE DOES NOT SUPPORT THE IDEA THAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SHOULD BE LIMITED TO SPENDING 18% OR LESS OF GDP. SENATOR PRYOR THINKS IT WOULD BE GREAT IF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CONTINUES TO SPEND MORE. WHY ELSE DID HE VOTE FOR THE STIMULUS?

(CNSNews.com) – Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) will not vote for a balanced budget amendment proposal unless it includes a cap on federal spending. However, he is undecided whether the amendment absolutely must require a supermajority of Congress to approve a tax hike for him to support it.

“The most important element is the cap on spending,” Gohmert told CNSNews.com. “If there is no cap on spending, then the balanced budget amendment is a formula for ever- increasing spending and ever-increasing taxing that will just spiral upward and upward again. So there’s got to be included a cap on spending, and best if it’s related to a percentage of GDP. But, absolutely, if there is no cap on spending, I could not vote for it.”

The actual language of the balanced budget amendment that Congress will vote on before the end of the year has not yet been determined. However, many conservatives fear that Republican leaders may agree to vote on a stripped down amendment that requires Congress to balance the budget but does not cap spending as a percentage of GDP or require supermajorities to raise taxes. They fear that an amendment of that nature–which might win the backing of some incumbent congressional liberals–would become a constitutional lever for sustaining big government via ever-escalating federal taxation.

When the Republican-controlled-House approved the cut, cap and balance plan last on July 19 in 234-190 vote, it included a version of the balanced budget amendment to cap federal spending at 19.9 percent of GDP. The GOP originally sought to hold federal spending to 18 percent of GDP.

The version of the balanced budget amendment in the cut, cap and balance plan also required two-thirds majorities in both houses to approve a tax increase. The amendment also would have prohibited deficit spending unless there was a national security emergency or a supermajority of Congress voted for it. On July 22, the Senate voted 51-46 to approve a procedural motion that blocked substantive consideration of the cut, cap and balance bill in that body.

The debt-limit deal reached by President Barack Obama, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) requires that both houses of Congress give an up or down vote to a balanced budget amendment before the end of the year. However, it does not specify what the language of the amendment would be.

If two-thirds of Congress votes to approve a balanced budget amendment, it would then have to be ratified by 38 states, or three-fourths.

The House passed that debt-limit deal by a 269-161 vote on Aug. 1. Gohmert was one of 66 Republicans who voted against it.

“As far as the supermajority to raise taxes, that’s our preference, but the key element, the most important element is the cap on spending,” Gohmert said. “If there is no supermajority to raise taxes then I’d just have to look at it more closely to see what all was there to see if it was something I could vote for or not.”

Gohmert believes this is a winning issue for Republicans.

“Well, I think it’s like this: We either have a legitimate Balanced Budget Amendment pass with a cap on spending, or I really believe if it does not pass, you will see many of those who voted against it turned out both in the House and Senate in the next election,” Gohmert said. “So I think it’s an either/or. Either people vote for it and it passes, or we have a significant change in the people that are in the House and Senate that voted against it.”

Reasons why Mark Pryor will be defeated in 2014 (Part 3)

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 has voting over and over to spend more than we have. A Balanced Budget Amendment would make that impossible. PROBABLY ONE OF THE MOST OFFENSIVE THINGS THAT PRYOR HAS DONE IS CONTINUE TO VOTE TO PASS BUDGETS THAT ARE NOT BALANCED AND NOW HE HAS BEEN GUILTY OF EARNING OUR COUNTRY A CREDIT DOWNGRADE. THAT IS ONE OF THE MAIN REASONS ARKANSANS WILL VOTE HIM OUT IN 2014 AND PUT SOMEONE IN THAT WILL VOTE FOR A BALANCED BUDGET AMENDMENT (like they did in 2010 when they replaced Senator Lincoln with a conservative Republican).

Congressman Walsh Issues Statement on His Vote Against Debt Deal

08/01/11

WASHINGTON–  Today, Congressman Joe Walsh (IL-08) voted against the latest debt ceiling deal brokered by President Obama and Congressional leaders.

“Last night’s deal shows how far the debate has moved in just a few months,” said Congressman Walsh. “At the beginning of this debate President Obama demanded a blank check increase in the debt limit with no spending cuts attached.  When that didn’t work, he insisted on huge tax increases on American families and job creators. The Republican Party, however, stood strong and refused to pay for reckless spending withmoretax increases.”

“While I give my Republican leadership all the credit in the world, I cannot support this latest deal: it spends too much and cuts too little.  While this deal will cut $2.4 trillion from the national debt over the next 10 years, Washington will still add another $7 trillion to the national debt over that same period.”

“The fact that there are only $7 billion in cuts next year, an election year, shows how blatantly political this bill is.  We need to be slashing reckless spending now and in the future, not just when it is politically convenient for the President.”

Democrats still don’t get it and refuse to make the spending cuts necessary to avoid a credit downgrade. I have made it clear from day one that I will never vote for an increase in the debt ceiling unless it fundamentally and structurally changes the way Washington spends money. I believe that the way to do that is through statutory spending caps and a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution.”

Uploaded by on Jun 14, 2011

Our country’s debt continues to grow — it’s eating away at the American Dream. We need to make real cuts now. We need Cut, Cap, and Balance.

 

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

Talk about timing, every Thursday I have been running this series on why Mark Pryor should vote to pass the Balanced Budget Amendment and I get to the computer this morning and read on the Arkansas Times Blog that Senator Pryor released a statement on the Balanced Budget Amendment yesterday. I can’t wait to talk about that. 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.

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.

In this paper below you will read:

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.

Washington has not been able to cut spending so the BBA is needed to force Washington to do the right thing. Your father David Pryor was the governor of Arkansas and he knew what it meant to have a balanced budget by mandate.

Thank you again for this opportunity to share my ideas with you.

Sincerely,

Everette Hatcher, lowcostsqueegees@yahoo.com

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.

Dear Senator Pryor, why not pass the Balance Budget Amendment? ( “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.

Marco Rubio is one of your fellow citizens and he noted:

A balanced budget amendment would be a necessary step in reversing Washington’s tax-borrow-spend mantra. It would force Congress to balance its budget each year – not allow it to pass our problems on to the next generation any longer.

The Balanced Budget Amendment is the only thing I can think of that would force Washington to cut spending. We have only a handful of balanced budgets in the last 60 years, so obviously what we are doing is not working. We are passing along this debt to the next generation.

Thank you for this opportunity to share my ideas with you.

Sincerely,

Everette Hatcher, lowcostsqueegees@yahoo.com

 In my two short months in office, it has become clear to me that the spending problem in Washington is far worse than many of us feared. For years, politicians have blindly poured more and more borrowed money into ineffective government programs, leaving us with trillion dollar deficits and a crippling debt burden that threatens prosperity and economic growth.

In the Florida House of Representatives, where a balanced budget is a requirement, we had to make the tough choices to cut spending where necessary because it was required by state law. By no means was this an easy process, but it was our duty as elected officials to be accountable to our constituents and to future generations of Floridians. In Washington, a balanced budget amendment is not just a fiscally-responsible proposal, it’s a necessary step to curb politicians’ decades-long penchant for overspending.

Several senators have proposed balanced budget amendments that ensure Congress will not spend a penny more than we take in, while setting a high hurdle for future tax hikes. I am a co-sponsor of two balanced budget amendments, since it is clear that these measures would go a long way to reversing the spending gusher we’ve seen from Washington in recent years.

During my Senate campaign, while surrounded by the employees of Jacksonville’s Meridian Technologies, I proposed 12 simple ways to cut spending in Washington. That company, founded 13 years ago, has grown into a 200-employee, high-tech business, and the ideas I proposed would help ensure that similar companies have the opportunity to start or expand just like Meridian did.

To be clear, our unsustainable debt and deficits are threatening companies like Meridian and impeding job creation. In addition to proposing a balanced budget amendment, I recommended canceling unspent “stimulus” funds, banning all earmarks and returning discretionary spending to 2008 levels.

Fortunately, some of my ideas have found their way to the Senate chamber. The first bill I co-sponsored in the Senate was to repeal ObamaCare, the costly overhaul of our nation’s health care system that destroys jobs and impedes our economic recovery. Democratic leaders in the Senate have expressed their willingness to ban earmarks for two years after the Senate Republican conference adopted a moratorium. I have also co-sponsored the REINS Act, a common-sense measure that would increase accountability and transparency in our outdated and burdensome regulatory process. These bills, along with a balanced budget amendment, would help get our country back on a sustainable path and provide certainty to job creators.

While Republicans are proposing a variety of ideas to rein in Washington’s out-of-control spending, unfortunately, President Obama’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year proposes to spend $46 trillion, and even in its best year, the deficit would remain above $600 billion. Worst of all, the President’s budget completely avoids addressing the biggest drivers of our long-term debt – Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Rather than tackle these tough, serious issues, President Obama is proposing a litany of tax hikes on small businesses and entrepreneurs, to the tune of more than $1.6 trillion. These tax increases destroy jobs, make us less competitive internationally and hurt our efforts to grow the economy and get our fiscal house in order.

A balanced budget amendment would be a necessary step in reversing Washington’s tax-borrow-spend mantra. It would force Congress to balance its budget each year – not allow it to pass our problems on to the next generation any longer.

Marco Rubio

Marco Rubio, a Republican, is a U.S. senator from Florida and former speaker of the Florida House of Representatives.

Dear Senator Pryor, why not pass the Balanced Budget Amendment? ( 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.

You asked for ideas to cut spending, but you voted for the 800 billion dollar stimulus that did not help the economy at all. I have included an article below that makes a very good point about the Balanced Budget Amendment and the stimulus:

Lee believes there are several key components to a balanced budget amendment which he outlines in his book, including making tax increases contingent on a two-thirds vote in Congress so that the option to increase taxes is not the default maneuver to balance a budget. He believes the amendment should require Congress spends no more than it takes in, and in fact should cap the spending at a fixed percent of GDP (the proposal submitted in the Senate caps it at 18 percent of GDP, just about the historical average). There would also be a supermajority vote required to raise the debt ceiling.

And for those who argue that stimulus packages wouldn’t have been possible under the amendment, Lee sees little difficulty responding.

“That’s exibit A for why we ought to have it,” Lee said of the Obama stimulus package.

That is a very good point in favor of having a balanced budget amendment in my view. I have been critical of you for supporting the stimulus in the past.

Thank you again for your time and for this opportunity to share my ideas with you.

Sincerely,

Everette Hatcher

Lee Makes His Case for a Balanced Budget Amendment

By Elisabeth Meinecke

7/18/2011

As Washington spends the summer arguing over its spending addiction, GOP Sen. Mike Lee of Utah has a solution to help prevent the same crisis for future generations: a balanced budget amendment.

The House made news last week when, in the heat of negotiations over raising the debt ceiling, they announced a vote on a balanced budget amendment this Wednesday. Though the Senate GOP introduced a one earlier this year, President Obama has stated emphatically otherwise, telling Americans last week during a press conference that the country does not need a balanced budget amendment.

“Yes, we do,” Lee told Townhall when asked to respond to the president, adding later when talking about simultaneously raising the debt ceiling and cutting spending, “We can’t bind what a future Congress will do. We can pass laws that will affect this year, but there will be a new Congress that takes power in January of 2013, and then another new one that will take power in January 2015. And they will make their own spending decisions then — we can’t bind them unless we amend the Constitution to do so.”

Lee points out that the American people support the idea of a balanced budget – 65 percent, according to a Sachs/Mason Dixon poll from this year – but politicians have been reluctant to wade into the debate.

“The fact that we’re in this debate, the fact that we’re sort of deadlocked, or we’ve reached a point of gridlock in the discussions, is indicative of the problem that we have,” Lee said.

In fact, Lee thinks a balanced budget amendment is so important to the future of the country that he’s written a book on it: The Freedom Agenda: Why a Balanced Budget Amendment Is Necessary to Restore Constitutional Government.

Lee even takes the argument a step beyond fiscal issues, saying a balanced budget amendment safeguards individual liberties.

““The more money it [Congress] has access to, whether it’s through borrowing or through taxation, either way, that’s going to fuel Congress’ expansion, and whenever government acts, it does so at the expanse of individual liberty,” Lee said. “We become less free every time government expands.”

Lee believes there are several key components to a balanced budget amendment which he outlines in his book, including making tax increases contingent on a two-thirds vote in Congress so that the option to increase taxes is not the default maneuver to balance a budget. He believes the amendment should require Congress spends no more than it takes in, and in fact should cap the spending at a fixed percent of GDP (the proposal submitted in the Senate caps it at 18 percent of GDP, just about the historical average). There would also be a supermajority vote required to raise the debt ceiling.

And for those who argue that stimulus packages wouldn’t have been possible under the amendment, Lee sees little difficulty responding.

“That’s exibit A for why we ought to have it,” Lee said of the Obama stimulus package.

Lee also pointed out that his balanced budget amendment includes an exception to the spending restriction in time of war – “not a blank check, but to the extent necessary.” Congress would also be able to supersede the amendment with a two-thirds vote.

“We wanted to make it difficult, but not impossible, for Congress to spend more than it had access to,” Lee said, citing as an example a massive or immediate crisis created by a national emergency or natural disaster. “What this is designed to do is to make it more difficult – to make it impossible – for Congress to just do this as a matter of course.”

Elisabeth Meinecke

Elisabeth Meinecke is Associate Editor with Townhall.com