Balanced Budget Amendment: Be Careful What You Wish For
This is part 2 of a series of discussions designed to point out the fallacies behind some modern Amendment ideas. As the drive towards a Constitutional Convention heats up, it is a good idea to examine the many Amendment proposals that are being discussed. No one wants to see balanced budgets more than I. Just be careful what you wish for.
Without exception, every balanced budget amendment proposal I have seen has included built-in loop-holes to allow our legislature to circumvent the requirement. I suppose that’s to be expected in today’s short-sighted world. Every year a new budget is proposed and passed and in every instance the Congress can balance the budget with a simple majority vote. It never happens. I don’t believe an amendment will change that.
I have two great reservations about a balanced budget amendment.
There are two ways to balance a budget. First, cut spending. I assume that this is what most Americans would like to see. Second, raise taxes. Let me ask you a simple question. If Congress were under mandate to balance the budget today, which method do you think would be most likely to be used?
The frustration of the American people over the budget issue is being used to fuel a call for an Article V Constitutional Convention. The risk of doing so is hardly worth it. Especially since the outcome of a balanced budget amendment is likely to result in higher taxes and a still unbalanced budget. As soon as taxes are raised sufficiently to bring the budget in line, a war or similar crisis will result in the exercise of whatever loop-hole is included and the debt will continue to rise.
We need to be very specific about how the budget is to be balanced. We cannot expect to make real progress on this issue unless we examine the true role of Government. If we want a welfare/warfare state we will have huge debts. Let us work to reduce the size of government. Let us enforce the Constitution, our contract of government, as it is written. Let us bind men down from mischief with the chains of our Constitution.
Reference My Previous Posts on the dangers associated with a Con-Con: