In the disingenuous world of congressional politics, the current balanced budget amendment proposal up for a vote in the House Thursday night may be the most cynical in my short time in Congress.
“Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good,” people tell me. They have a point. If this amendment was even nudging us in the direction of curbing our spending addiction and toward a truly balanced budget, I’d vote “yes.”
I’m not asking for the whole enchilada, I’m willing to settle for a bite. This amendment is not just imperfect – it’s not even good. It neglects the root cause of Congress’s budget problem – we spend too much!
In this instance, no matter how much lipstick we put on this pig, it will still be a pig – and a particularly ugly pig, at that.
We don’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem. The proposed balanced budget amendment inspires Congress to raise taxes because it’s the easiest solution.
However, no one would race to put out a fire with a can of gasoline simply because the can is labeled “water.” We currently have rising federal tax revenue thanks to the policies of the Trump administration and yet we are still adding to the deficit due to increased spending.
Instead of a successful solution to balance our budget, this amendment incentivizes Congress to raise taxes, which raises revenue in the short run but slows the economy and reduces long-term tax revenue. This means that Congress will not reduce spending, which can be politically difficult. It will look first to raise your taxes.
This amendment would not have prevented the recent spending omnibus bill. Just a few legislative days ago, Congress passed one of the biggest spending bills in American history. It busted all of the statutory spending caps, adding hundreds of billions of dollars to our structural deficit and national debt.
A supermajority of the House and Senate voted for the big spending omnibus – 61 percent in the House, and even more in the Senate.
The proposed balanced budget amendment only requires 60 percent of Congress to waive the requirement of a balanced budget. So when the Congress feels the need to perpetuate its out-of-control spending, this amendment will not even be a speed bump.
The balanced budget amendment allows the balanced budget requirement to be waived in times of war or “military conflict.” We are in a ceasefire with North Korea and have been for many decades. That is a military conflict. We have been engaged in a military conflict in the greater Middle East for 17 years.
Either one of these conflicts might allow Congress to ignore the balanced budget parameters proposed in the amendment. Believe me, Congress is all about finding ways to continue its profligate habits, and it will use this ready-made loophole.
The balanced budget amendment would not even go into effect until 2030, if ratified by the states. The amendment allows seven years for ratification and then would not be implemented for an additional five years! Our national debt is estimated to be nearly $30 trillion by then. We need to make real changes in our spending levels immediately.
I am voting “no” on the so-called balanced budget amendment. This amendment is a cynical attempt to deceive the American people. I simply want a balanced budget amendment that will actually force Congress to do its job of passing a balanced budget.
That Congress is trying mollify Americans who are outraged at the ridiculous omnibus spending bill by passing this balanced budget amendment is disgusting.
Had the bill made things even slightly better, I would be a “yes” vote. This bill is a feeble attempt to distract Americans from the horrifically irresponsible spending bill it just passed. How ignorant do supporters think American voters are?