Key Elements of a Successful Balanced Budget AmendmentPosted by Randy | April 08, 2011
We are in a fiscal crisis. Federal spending is out of control. Overspending will only stop if Congress cuts spending now. I have long called for a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution. This WebMemo from the Heritage Foundation points out the key elements of a successful balanced budget amendment.
According to the memo, a successful BBA should:
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.
I have cosponsored H.J.Res.2, which would address each of these key elements of a balanced budget amendment. Specifically, the bill will force Congress to enact fiscally responsible spending measures, reduce the deficit, and ensure that the money our citizens work so hard to earn is not spent on wasteful spending and programs.
The bill requires that Congress not spend more than it receives in revenues, requires the President to submit a balanced budget to Congress, and requires a 3/5 majority vote to increase the debt limit. The bill authorizes a waiver of the provisions when a declaration of war is in effect as declared by a joint resolution, adopted by a majority of the whole number of each House, which has become law.
Do you think a Balanced Budget Amendment should be a priority for this Congress? Why or why not?
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