“Politeness was invented by wise men to keep fools at a distance,” said Ralph Waldo Emerson, and sometimes that’s a very polite but big legislative stick is needed to keep elected officials at a distance from our wallets.
Elected officials who have no more sense than a flock of geese when it comes to deficit spending. As the US government has added the equivalent of the economy of Russia in deficit spending in the last two years under the Obama Administration. As interest costs on the U.S. debt alone would rank about 30th on a list of countries sorted by gross domestic product.
The nation’s debt has surpassed $14 trillion; it has risen more than 25% in just under the Obama Administration. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reports the public debt is about nearly two-thirds the size of the U.S. economy and could equal a stunning 90% in just nine years.
Twenty-one U.S. Senators, the snare drums here being Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, have introduced a Balanced Budget Amendment to the United States Constitution.
The proposed amendment would bring down the nation’s skyrocketing national debt by requiring balanced budgets and prohibiting deficit spending or tax increases unless approved by two-thirds of the House and Senate.
Sounds like common sense right? Germany, Switzerland, and many U.S. states have such covenants.
So why not the U.S.? Because “everybody gets so much information all day long they lose their common sense,” said author Gertrude Stein. Meaning, the fix for every problem is your money.
And that goes for Keynesians who believe that we can spend our way to prosperity, as the dollar takes a hit daily in currency markets. No nation on this planet has ever devalued its way to prosperity. “Printing money cannot create wealth, if it could counterfeiting would be legal,” economist Brian Wesbury has said.
Even former President Richard Nixon once said, “We are all Keynesians now,” as the U.S. was coming out of the war in Southeast Asia. Elements of a centrally planned economy eerily started to crop up under Nixon—wage and price controls, mandatory gas allotments. Later, under the Carter Administration, even Democrats started clamoring for a balanced budget amendment. At that time Democrat Congressman Paul Simon moved to write such an amendment that almost was enacted.
But passage of a constitutional amendment itself requires a two-thirds majority of Congress, and that’s a very high hurdle, so the amendment has failed every time—though it did pass the House in 1995, after the GOP swept Congress in the midterms in the fall of 1994. The Senate came within one vote of approving a similar amendment put forward by Sen. Hatch in 1997.
So we’ve blown money out the government’s back door ever since then, including stimulus money, as a self-absorbed government thinks it is the answer to all prayers. Sounding like tin cans on the back of the just married car, the fiscally reckless states have come clamoring too for their piece of the pie. But you don’t see the federal government tying this aid to specific covenants like pension reform as IMF does. Because we are so used to having fiscal dipsomaniacs at the table, what’s another taxpayer funded bailout? And besides that leads to riots, we don’t want such unseemliness on our doorstep.
But now we have the Pied Pipers of the Senate showing the common sense all Americans are yearning for, and voted for last November in the midterms that booted many who ignored this problem.
“Millions of working families across the country balance their checkbook every year, and their government should do the same. That is why passing a Balanced Budget Amendment must be the first priority of the 112th Congress,” Sen. Cornyn said in a statement. “We are facing a fiscal crisis, and everyone agrees that our nation is on an unsustainable path. Unfortunately, Washington has a track record of failing to get its own books in order. We must set effective limits on spending, taxes, and require a balanced budget.”
“Bringing down our sky-high debt is in the economic, national security and public interest of our nation. Time after time, Washington has promised to bring down the debt, but then kept the spending going – increasing the mountain of debt our kids and grandkids will have to pay for. A Balanced Budget Amendment is a sure fire way of making sure we end that dangerous cycle,” said Hatch. “I’ve long fought for a Balanced Budget Amendment and hope that given the tremendous fiscal crisis facing our nation that its time has come.