Balanced Budget Amendment A Dangerous Gimmick
by Shirley Spellerberg on March 30, 2011 at 5:59 PM
IS A BALANCED BUDGET AMENDMENT A DANGEROUS GIMMICK?
It surprises me that so many Republicans and Tea Partiers (of which I am both) are so excited about passing a Balanced Budget Amendment to our U.S. Constitution. All conservatives favor balanced budgets, but the catch is in HOW to balance the budget and what RISKS are involved in passing a balanced budget constitutional amendment.
As the multi-trillion-dollar deficit looms far into the future, politicians in congress are looking for a popular ‘quick fix.’ Popular because a BBA sounds like the solution to force Congress to do something and is a ‘politically correct’ position for those in congress who have been a part of the problem to look good to unhappy voters. Budget problems are political, not constitutional. For too long politicians have made ‘politically correct’ spending decisions to win the favor of lobbyists who contribute to their campaigns, special interest groups to obtain votes and to ‘bring home the bacon’ to their states and districts.
A BBA would not stop the big-spenders, but merely give them constitutional cover to raise taxes or obtain revenue to balance the budget in any way they see fit.
In fairness to Senators Cornyn and Hatch and the many House members signing on to a BBA, the sad truth is it is quite likely that they have no idea what a morass of legal complications would result from a BBA with disastrous results. Tying President Obama’s support of a BBA before consideration of increasing the Debt Limit is a cop-out on cutting the budget which they were sent there to do. Looks like they are looking for any excuse to not cut to the chase on deficit reduction. The same is true of the Texas Senate when Lt. Gov. Dewhurst wanted, and the Senate passed, SJR1 calling for a Constitutional Convention for the purpose of a balanced budget amendment. A ConCon, which cannot be limited to any one purpose, would risk a re-write of our unique and God-inspired constitution. There is nothing wrong with our original constitution! What is needed is to elect men and women who will respect and obey it—not continue to ignore it!
REASONS FOR OPPOSING A BALANCED BUDGET AMENDMENT
Prof. Oman says a BBA is a dangerous gimmick
Prof. Nathan B. Oman, Associate Professor at William & Mary Law School in Williamsburg, Virginia, points out, “Unfortunately, the amendment would do nothing to solve our fiscal woes. . .Solving them requires that politicians make painful decisions to reduce benefits, increase taxes or—as seems most likely a combination of both. Amending the constitution doesn’t make these choices any easier. Rather, it’s a distraction, a gimmick that lets politicians avoid the risky and unpopular business of talking honestly about the nation’s finances. A balanced budget amendment is also dangerous because there are times when the nation needs to borrow money. . . .In World War II defense spending reached nearly 40% of total GDP. Had that money been extracted all at once in the form of taxes, it would have crippled the American economy and with it the war effort against Nazi Germany. (Note: Think what balancing today’s deficit budget would do to taxpayers and our economy.)
Finally, a balanced budget amendment would upset the separation of powers. The founders understood that taxing and spending were among the most important albeit destructive things that governments do. Accordingly, they ensured that the most democratically accountable branch, Congress, control the purse strings. A balanced budget amendment, in contrast, would empower courts to declare budgets unconstitutional, giving the least democratic branch final say over the public fiscal policy.” Prof. Oman is not the only well-informed opponent of the BBA.