Senator-Elect Mike Lee Calls for Balanced Budget Amendment

by Mike on November 8, 2010

in Economy,Politics

Just a week after being elected Senator from Utah, Mike Lee has called for something that hasn’t been seriously considered in the last fifteen years, a Balanced Budget Amendment to the United States Constitution.  And unlike previous proposals, Lee’s version isn’t covered in loopholes.  This one contains no wartime or emergency exceptions.  Imagine that, a Balanced Budget Amendment that would actually require a balanced budget.

The last time Congress considered the Amendment was when the first Republican Congress in forty years was shoving a balanced budget down President Clinton’s throat (no pun intended).  Opponents at the time, other than those who “don’t worship at the altar of a balanced budget” of course,  argued that amending the Constitution to require the feds to balance its books was unnecessary.  After all, wasn’t the Gingrich-led Congress in the process of doing just that without a Constitutional mandate?

The problem with that logic is that the fiscal discipline of the Republican Congresses serving with President Clinton was most unusual.  Prior to then, the last time the U.S. had a balanced budget was under President Eisenhower.  Some argue, persuasively, that even with the relative fiscal discipline of the late 1990s, there was no real budget surplus at all.  As for this decade, the fiscal disaster caused by the Pelosi Congress and Obama Administration is legendary.  So no, the federal government cannot and will not balance the budget unless forced to by the Constitution.

Passage is unlikely at the moment with Harry Reid controlling what comes to the floor in the Senate, but you never know.  Several liberals, notably Paul Simon and even Joe Kennedy, supported the balanced budget amendment in the 1990s when it failed by just one vote in the Senate.  Putting the Amendment on the radar is an important first step.

Kudos to Mike Lee.  This is why primary challenges are worth it.

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