Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Balanced Budget Amendments and Other Fantasies

On April 12th the House of Representatives voted down House Joint Resolution 2, a proposed balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The amendment would have "prohibit(ed) total outlays for a fiscal year from exceeding total receipts for that fiscal year unless Congress authorizes the excess by a three-fifths roll call vote of each chamber," required a three-fifths vote in both chambers to increase the debt limit, required a majority vote to raise taxes, and required the President to submit a balanced budget to Congress each year. All of those requirements would have been waived if a declaration of war was in effect.

Speaking as a middle-class retired guy living on a fixed income, I understand fiscal responsibility. I understand that I need to balance my budget. After all, Real People go to jail over indebtedness, and cannot avoid their obligations by waiving them in the event war has been declared. And when was the last time you saw a corporation or member of Congress go to jail because of poor budgeting?

Riddle me this, Batman ... why do we need to amend the Constitution to force Congress to do its job? Hint: it's because they want cover to protect them from the fury they'll face from voters who don't want to face the pain of running the country properly. And what's the point of amending the Constitution when the amendment provides ample escape clauses?

Politicians, Republicans in particular, are always demanding a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. It's a safe public relations ploy. Amendments and laws are only words, after all, unless there's the will and the willingness to obey them. And it's clear that if Congress can enact one law, it can pass another to undo or avoid it.

Forget balanced budget amendments. Pass real budgets, based on sound and thoughtful national priorities, for a change.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.



eViL pOp TaRt said...

Most of us have to learn to live within limits. Why not Congress too?

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

A balanced budget will always be a fantasy because no one, even the Office of Management and Budget, can predict too accurately what kinds of problems might have to be factored in. And no one wants to be seen as too proactive in increasing taxes!

Mike said...

I wonder what trillion dollar number we are going to have to get to before it gets everyone's attention.