Congress is debating the Balanced Budget Amendment as Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) decries “gimmicks.” (More)

No, that was not Senate Minority Leader McConnell decrying the Balanced Budget Amendment as a gimmick, it was this:

The time has come for a balanced budget amendment that forces Washington to balance its books. If these debt negotiations have convinced us of anything, it’s that we can’t leave it to politicians in Washington to make the difficult decisions that they need to get our fiscal house in order. The balanced budget amendment will do that for them. Now is the moment. No more games. No more gimmicks. The Constitution must be amended to keep the government in check. We’ve tried persuasion. We’ve tried negotiations. We’re tried elections. Nothing has worked.

The Balanced Budget Amendment has a long history and deep ties to the Republican party. In 1936, Representative Harold Knutson (R-Minnesota) introduced “a resolution in support of a Constitutional Amendment that would have placed a per capita ceiling on the federal debt in peacetime.” In 2007, Senators Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint offered a balanced budget amendment. In 2011, forty-seven Senate Republicans offered S.J. 10, a Balanced Budget Amendment.

Recently Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) threatened to filibuster any debt ceiling talks until the Republican Balance Budget Amendment is voted on which led to the amendment being debated this week.

The proposed Balanced Budget Amendment (S.J. 10) sets these guidelines:
1. Congress must pass a balanced budget;
2. The President has to submit a balanced budget;
3. Spending is capped at 18% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP);
4. “Supermajority” vote (two-thirds of House and Senate) to raise taxes;
5. “New supermajority” vote (three-fifths of House and Senate) to raise the debt ceiling

One of the most alarming features of the current Balanced Budget Amendment being considered is the new supermajority requirement for tax increases:

Senate Republicans’ so-called “balanced budget amendment” does far more than simply requiring federal spending to equal federal revenues. It makes it functionally impossible to raise taxes by imposing a two-thirds supermajority requirement — a provision closely modeled after the California anti-tax amendment that blew up that state’s finances.

The 2011 Balance Budget Amendment has been called “irresponsible”, “unnecessary” and an invitation to “paralysis.”

President Obama’s spokesman Jay Carney said “The balanced budget amendment would be basically an admission by Congress that they can’t do anything, right?”

That sounds like what Sen. McConnell is saying.

What do you think?


Is the Balanced Budget Amendment more properly the Codify The No-Taxes Pledge Amendment?

Why is Mitch McConnell so quick to give up on elections as a way to find legislators willing to make hard choices on spending and taxes?

Is the Balanced Budget Amendment a diversion to call attention away from the ghastly failures of the Republican-led House of Representatives?

Is there anything positive in a Balanced Budget Amendment?

Does this have any chance of passing, being ratified by the states and becoming an amendment or is this simply another “show” vote in the increasingly dysfunctional 112th Congress?


Reader Comments are Welcome