Fiscal Discipline was struck another blow this week when Rand Paul’s balanced budget plan was voted down in the senate after gaining the support of only 20 senators. It’s no surprise that fiscal restraint isn’t popular, but that’s an embarrassingly low number of allegedly Republican senators (obviously no Democrats voted for it).
Rand’s version of the “Penny Plan” would have capped federal spending and restrict spending growth to 1% annually. In DC terms, that’s an austere cut. No one can really claim to be shocked that the GOP would be against it. It has virtually no history of the kind of fiscal discipline that it claims to espouse. But I’m not really grieving about this plan going down. A plan to promise cuts in the future is about as useless as a Paul Ryan show vote on a theoretical budget that will never be implemented. It’s simply theater.
Far more serious was the loss in the House back in April of the Balanced Budget Amendment. This hardy perennial was defeated by failing to get a two thirds vote, 233 in favor to 184 against. Interestingly the House was able to rally to pass a 1.3 Trillion Omnibus spending bill only a few weeks prior to that vote. I guess they can agree on some things. Just not on some of the most important things.
If you want to see who voted yea or nay, check it out here.
If you are a fiscal conservative or even someone who doesn’t want the country to collapse in fiscal disaster, there is no greater priority than a Balanced Budget Amendment. Unfortunately there are many factions on the right who oppose a Balanced Budget Amendment, such as the Club for Growth and The Heritage Foundation. These groups oppose anything that might lead to an increase in taxes. Better deficit spending as far as the eye can see than an extra penny for taxes.
This is extremely shortsighted.
If in fact, Demography is Destiny (the working hypothesis I’ve been going by for years), at some point the Republicans as they are currently configured will be untenable as a national party. Once they lose control of national power for good, then here comes the California model of governance for the rest of the nation. California, in its plan to be the next Venezuela, seemingly has no stop sticks from preventing it from going off the rails, yet they put a stop on a plan to provide single payer healthcare for the entire state, an idea that the majority of people and politicians in the state support.
Why is that?
The reason obviously is that they couldn’t pay for it. It would have doubled the state budget, requiring massive tax increases in a state that already pays high taxes.
And that’s the rub. The trick to keeping Democrats from fiscally destroying the country after all the GOP brakes are gone is making them pay for it by raising taxes; something that ultimately, they are as loath to do as any cigar chomping, monocle wearing, GOP banker type.
One of the few long term priorities that can outlast the GOP of the Bushes, Ryan, and McConnell is a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution. It actually forces the difficult choices that we’ve been avoiding for decades. A super majority of Democrats running the Intersectional States of America decades from now would still be constrained in funding Single Payer, UBI, and assorted other fantasies if there were a Balanced Budget Amendment. Taxes might be high and the economy might stink, but that’s better than the currency being worthless.