Posts Tagged ‘Balanced Budget Amendment’

Ten Reforms to Save America: Reform Number One

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

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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House Republican Leadership Prepares to Screw You Again

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

Weak, Pathetic, Ineffective

This is absurd.  Speaker John Boehner is now behind a move to bring a “clean” Balanced Budget Amendment to a vote in the House of Representatives.  The Amendment in question would provide no protections against runaway government, or limit the ability of Congress to raise taxes.  Roll Call is reporting that the Republican leadership is willing to consider the weakened, unrestricted version of the amendment in what will surely be the most ridiculous act of self-defeat in a long string of them by this House Leadership.  The Democrats like the “clean bill”  because it’s going to present a huge “get out of jail free card” for them.   In the form that is now under consideration, the Amendment would serve as a club over the head of people who wish to reduce the size and scope of government.  It’s another pathetic surrender, and it’s not acceptable.

What’s at stake is this: The amendment now under consideration is stripped of any requirements to cut spending or limit taxation.  Under this so-called “clean” version of the bill, if Congress wished to spend 100% of our GDP, the proposed amendment would permit it, and permit or even require that Congress raise taxes to support it.  In short, this proposal is a national suicide pact.  Earlier this week, 31 conservative organizations signed a letter published by Americans for Tax Reform to John Boehner insisting on the stronger restrictions.  From the letter:

“Unless tax hikes are taken off the table, reckless lawmakers will increase taxes to pay for these new bloated spending levels, rather than bring spending in line with revenues. A ‘clean’ BBA provides the excuse big spenders seek to raise taxes and grow government,”

This is exactly correct.  The letter continued:

“Any lawmaker committed to restoring American solvency cannot seriously vote for a BBA that does not include a super-majority requirement for tax increases,”

It’s not surprising that John Boehner would seek to do this for the sake of political expedience, but what is shocking about this is that it will undoubtedly be used to either punish the entire economy, or to politically attack Republicans.  Let me explain the way in which it will be used for the latter purpose, since the former is self-explanatory.  What will happen is that a number of House Conservatives will revolt against party leadership over this(and they had damned-well better,) but this will mean the Amendment will go down to defeat, and this will enable Democrats to say “We voted for a BBA, but Republicans obstructed it.”  The details and the truth won’t matter.  The President will claim: “See, we tried to get a Balanced Budget Amendment, but those darned Republicans stopped it.”

The way to prevent a disaster is to introduce the stronger version of the Amendment. This means it may go down to defeat, but if it does, it will have been defeated with Democrats’ votes.  That would flip the narrative, and place the burden of defending a bad position on Democrats.  What Boehner’s surrender promises us is a complete disaster of unrestricted tax increases, or the loss of the House majority, or both.   Boehner isn’t fit to lead.  He doesn’t understand the concept.  He’s a deal-making, arm-twisting surrender monkey, and if the GOP majority survives this disastrous leadership for another two years, it will have been a miracle, but Boehner must go.  Cantor isn’t looking any better.