Friday, November 18, 2011

Budget Amendment Not Necessary; Courage Is

The balanced budget constitutional amendment that our U.S. Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-6th District) is so proud of having introduced failed to get its 2/3 majority vote in the house today, garnering a vote in favor of it by 261-165. Most of us had no thought it had a chance of passing even the Republican House, let alone the Senate. It would have also required a presidential signature and an overwhelming popular vote.

Balanced budget amendments are occasionally brought up by our conservative brethren using the logic that businesses must balance their budgets (all the while running up record deficits in administrations like Reagan's and Bush II's) and states must balance theirs. They avoid mention of where the cuts would come in the short run to achieve that balance. They also fail to mention that government is not business and does not have to be profitable in order to survive. Government is about serving the people, not making money.

During this cycle, according to various sources, the cuts would be about 17 percent across the board and would smother Social Security (by $1.2 trillion) and Medicare (by $750 billion in 20 years), among other programs. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities provides those figures.

It would seem to me that if Congress is ever--I mean ever--serious about a balanced budget, it would do what the Clinton Administration did when faced with huge deficits: balance the budget. We don't need a constitutional requirement for that, we simply need to get the damn bribe money out of politics, elect some honest people to a body that is woefully short of them, and look to somebody to have some balls enough to lead.

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