Ten Reforms to Save America: Reform Number One

Over the next several days, I am going to be bringing you a series of ten proposals derived from our national experience, and from a long list of suggestions from my readers.  Each day, I intend to bring you at least one in this list of ten items, so that you can consider their merits and flaws.  Since one of the items is now on the verge of being proposed in the House of Representatives later this week, I have decided that for several important reasons, we should begin there.  Our federal spending has grown out of all control, and Congress is looking for ways to avoid the pain.  The solutions Congress is now considering actually threaten the future of the country.

The first of ten reforms is a Balanced Budget Amendment.  That amendment must have as its primary purposes the following simple ends:

  1. Maintain the fiscal and financial stability of the United States by limiting the accrual of new public debt
  2. Restrain the growth of Federal spending as a proportion of the total economy of the United States
  3. Force Congress to live within a budget by restricting their ability to easily raise taxes
  4. Pay down the existing public debt over the longer run

These are the obvious purposes for a Balanced Budget Amendment, and any proposed amendment that does not meet these criteria is not a serious attempt at reform, and may even sew the seeds of revolution.

To maintain the fiscal and financial stability of the United States is critical in limiting the budgetary impact of existing debt, and to fulfilling our various spending priorities.  It is also important in the chore of maintaining the value of our currency.  Each additional dollar printed or digitized into circulation diminishes the value of every previous dollar.  Each time the federal government borrows additional funds, more money is put into circulation by the Federal Reserve.  To balance the budget would stop our national bleeding, and also limit the damage to the value of our money.

A serious proposal for a Balanced Budget Amendment must include a limit on how much of the economy the Federal Government can consume.  I think that proportion should be tagged at fifteen percent, but others would be satisfied if we could peg it to eighteen or twenty percent.  I would be willing to accept the twenty percent number if it was written specifically to include money spent in the private sector in order to comply with federal regulations, laws, and mandates.  This limitation would have the effect of making Congress deal with unfunded mandates and regulatory costs of the laws they impose, and the executive branch enforces.

In tandem with a limitation on Congressional authority to increase revenues, this would have the combined effect of putting the pinch on Congress and compelling them to control federal expenditures.  Any limitation to increase taxes should include a bare minimum of a two-thirds vote by both houses of Congress, although I would prefer three-fourths.

The last thing a Balanced Budget Amendment must do is set aside some proportion of the budget for the purpose of reducing the principle owed on the public debt.  In short, we should be buying down debt by constitutional mandate, a little at a time, but as the debt is paid down, any savings derived from reduced interest payments over the longer run should be plowed into reducing the debt at a greater rate.  Think of it like making the monthly minimum payment on your credit card, but rather than always making that minimum payment, instead continuing to pay that same initial payment amount.  Over time, the amount going to pay down principle increases while the amount spent in interest continues downward, ultimately at an accelerated pace.

These should be the bare essentials to be considered in the drafting and adoption of a Balanced Budget Amendment.  As of this writing, the House Republican leadership is working on a form of a Balanced Budget Amendment that contains no such restrictions, and might well lead to skyrocketing taxes.  In this sense, the version of the Amendment now being advanced by the Republican leadership may equate to a national suicide pact.  It may also be merely a stunt, but in any case, it is a dangerous proposal because it puts no restrictions on Congress.

If there’s one thing experience has taught us, it is that Congress is frequently irresponsible when it has the unlimited, unrestricted ability to spend the public treasure.  A serious Balanced Budget Amendment is the first step among several that will begin the lengthy process of regaining control over the United States by its people.  Don’t settle for half measures and recipes for disaster.  While the Republican leadership is working to shaft us again, we must let them know that their tepid proposals simply will not suffice, and will not be accepted.  This is our country.  It’s time to let them know it.

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10 Responses to Ten Reforms to Save America: Reform Number One

  1. Ben Hoffman says:

    That's a good strategy to send our country into a deep depression.

    • MarkAmerica says:

      You're mistaken. Of course, there are a number of pseudo-economists out there of the Keynesian variety who would agree with you. By the way, as to deep depressions, we're essentially already there. Do you wish to explain how requiring a balanced budget will result in a depression? I'm ready to read this. Can't wait. I love a good debunking. What's next? Are you going to tell me that the second amendment causes wars, or crime? Will you side with Krugman and tell us how we need a good alien invasion or war? I'm just so anxious. Don't keep us in suspense.

      • Ben Hoffman says:

        Simple. You're proposing a trillion dollars in spending cuts to balance the budget. That means a trillion dollars in job cuts, which will put an enormous number of people out of work. That also takes a trillion dollars out of the economy, which hurts businesses, which will cause more layoffs.

        You also want to defund regulatory agencies. That means more predatory practices by big businesses, which will kill more jobs. It also means more damage to our environment, which means more illnesses, but with what you propose, only the wealthy will have access to health care, so there's even more disease.

        Your proposal is a disaster waiting to happen. It has no chance whatsoever to make our country better.

        • MarkAmerica says:

          Ben, I'm proposing a balanced budget amendment. Nobody said the budget must be balanced in one year. One could write into the amendment sent to the states an effective date of the third budget year after the ratification. This would probably give a 4-5 year window to reduce the expenditures in a gradual fashion.

          You say "a trillion dollars in job cuts." From where? Who says that the same trillion dollars won't be spent or allocated in the private sector to better result? In fact, it is almost certain to garner better results. If I had to bet on which could make better (more efficient) allocation of funds in the creation of jobs, considering the government and the private sector as the two alternatives, it's an easy selection.

          Yes, I absolutely wish to defund many regulatory agencies. I don't know how big businesses will be able to impose predatory pricing on that basis, or how it will kill jobs. There's nothing to suggest any indirect linkage, never mind a direct connection. I'm calling BS on this one. As for the environment, please tell me how the government having a trillion dollars more spent on regulation has anything to do with healthcare, other than in driving up costs?

          The disaster is already in progress. Taking this first step gives us some chance to eventually recover. Your proposal winds up taxing the American people into oblivion. Time for you to have the first piece of evidence to bear out your hokey theories.

      • Ben Hoffman says:

        Your proposal winds up taxing the American people into oblivion. Time for you to have the first piece of evidence to bear out your hokey theories.

        You're delusional. I didn't offer a proposal. What I would propose is a return to the late 1990s policies when we had a balanced (or near balanced) budget and a booming economy.

        • MarkAmerica says:

          Wait Ben… You are contradicting yourself, aren't you? You point out correctly that we had a nearly balanced budget near the end of the 1990s, and that we had a booming economy. My proposal for a balanced budget amendment merely restores that condition.

          First you say it will destroy the economy, now you say it was accompanied by a booming economy. Which?

          Now, as for my 'delusion', you proposed that the BBA would ruin the economy. Therefore, you must be suggesting that no BBA revives it? The point is that your proposal was by implication, and what you proposed was to keep spending us into the ditch, since you opposed the BBA. So again, I simply must ask: Which is it? A Balanced Budget is good circa 1999, you say, but bad circa 2011, you say? Is the only difference that a BBA would require it? Is that your complaint? Seriously. You're all over the map. I feel like Mark Levin when he's talking to a drone. If you hear the faintest echo of "get off the phone, you big dope…" you'll know where it's coming from.

  2. Fred says:

    Mark, I agree with you 100%. I would also like to see the Senate and The House restricted to two terms,and insider trading made illegal. Our lawmakers are NOT above the law. We also need ti limit our Justices to a shorter term, not a life long one. This would help get the cronies out. Personally, I feel that when they reach an advanced age, what's left of their feeble, arrogant mind goes south. Wish Sarah Palin would get in there; She would know how to effect the changes we need.We ALL need to speak out and remove this bunch of turkeys. On second thought, turkeys are SMARTER than our lawmakers!

  3. I am not one to support amending the constitution on any whim. To me, it would be far better for the American people, our society and future to only elect people who do not need a rule about fiscal discipline in order to be responsible.

    A man I heard quoted a few years back, a lawyer I believe, said that the reason we have 8 million laws in this country is that we cannot and could not follow 10 commandments. I am with him.

    Making another rule, to me, is not as important as changing the consciousness of the people. When enough people REALLY want what is best for everyone, ergo best for themselves, another rule will be completely unnecessary.


  4. SeanStLouis says:

    I have a better idea. And I know that you'll probably get to this, Mark.

    End, or severely gut, the Federal Reserve. Stop their monopoly on money creation. Stop their inflationary policies and insidious market intervention.

    Do not be fooled into believing that the Fed works in our best interest. Consider who "owns" the Federal Reserve. They have almost unlimited power to steal from the American people and will continue to help themselves if we allow them to.

    Ending the Fed will kill the spending disease in congress…they seem to believe that they have unlimited money to spend. And, in fact, they do. This must end.