Why a Balanced Budget Amendment Should be a GOP Priority

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.



9 thoughts on “Why a Balanced Budget Amendment Should be a GOP Priority

  1. I’m afraid you’re a little naive here. First of all, there’s no way a BBA would be ratified by 3/4s of the states, even if it somehow got the requisite 2/3rds of Congress.

    Second, when the ‘Rats take back power they’re going to drop even the pretense of adhering to the Constitution: https://newrepublic.com/article/148358/democrats-prepare-pack-supreme-court

    Third, they could “balance the budget” with with single-payer, UBI and no major tax increases by simply printing money. Once you have Venezuela demographics you’re getting Venezuela policy, one way or the other.


    • Well the barrier right now is getting the BBA through Congress. Once that happens it’s possible to take a state by state approach. But this isn’t even a priority. The vote on the actual BBA in April had almost zero coverage, and I’m talking about in the “conservative” media. As long as it gets show votes and zero coverage, it has no chance. Right now, anyone interested in any sort of fiscal discipline has been content to be bought off by a Paul Ryan fake budget proposal. That has to change, and it’s possible. Look at immigration. You just need the right messenger in the same way that Trump was the right messenger for the immigration issue.

      As to liberal court packing, well eventually, nothing will stop entropy, but when we’re at the point that a court decides that a constitutional amendment is unconstitutional none of our structures won’t matter. I’m just trying to buy time.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The 38th most conservative state is solid-blue Delaware. The 67th most conservative Senator is down-the-line liberal (not even moderate) Democrat Gary Peters of Michigan. The 290th most conservative Representative is liberal Albio Sires of New Jersey. A BBA can’t pass unless you have a time machine to the 90’s, so there’s no point wasting time on it.

        Moreover, if somehow one did pass, it would be politically devastating for Trump & the GOP, since balancing the budget would require massive cuts to Medicare, Social Security, and the military, in addition to large, broad-based tax increases.

        And it wouldn’t buy any time, liberals have already announced their intention to formalize existing practice and have the courts declare the constitution unconstitutional.

        What buys time is stopping immigration. That is the only issue that matters in the medium or long term.


      • Most BBA drafts have a time frame for implementation, like an effective date 10 years after ratification. Ratification of course, coming after the necessary States have passed it. Ratification would be years away if it passed Congress this year. So this would have no effect on Trump or most members of Congress. As far as chances of passing, we really have no idea since in a practical sense, this is still a bit outside the list of real policies supported by so called fiscal conservatives.

        But although I agree with you that every single right leaning policy flows from immigration, barring a near shut down of immigration oh…with a time machine back to the 90’s (heh!), the damage is done and nothing practical is going to fix it. A BBA is to buy time after it’s already too late. We should be thinking long term, with the idea that we need some institutional stop sticks to slow down the insanity. The idea that the insanity can be stopped doesn’t seem to be realistic (unless we do get a time machine).


      • If it’s supposed to be implemented 10 years down the road, then it’s definitely a dead letter, since future administrations will just ignore the deadline until it passes.

        A BBA simply, mathematically, can’t pass. Even if every Republican and every moderate Democrat in Congress and in every state legislature supported it, it would be nowhere near passing.

        There was a political moment in the 90’s where it looked like one could pass. Perhaps it would’ve been good for GOP leadership to have pushed it harder then (personally I wish they’d been sane on immigration). It might’ve been good for Dubya to spend his political capital on it, even though by that point it’d have gone nowhere—beats Iraq. But now is too late.

        As far as institutional stop sticks go, it’s not going to be a very effective one. No more effective than the balanced budget clause (binding on the states) that’s already in the Constitution:

        No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.

        Like the rest of the document, our learned judges have, many decades ago, deduced that this clause means the opposite of what it says.


      • Your basic argument seems to be there is nothing that will go into the law and constitution that the left and it’s judges won’t ignore. So why bother with a BBA? In that case, that’s true for everything. There is no point in Trump or…any policy, law, or administrative change because they will be ignored in the future.

        That’s just as true for immigration. How can any change in immigration be important when a President Booker or Harris administration is just going to tap their scepter and declare the entire rest of the world American citizens.

        If everything is black pill to you, why does an attempt to modify the constitution to require balanced budgets bother you? Nothing in immigration will matter either, so why be concerned about this?


  2. If healthcare spending were reigned in the massive tax increases might not be necessary. I once spent five minutes with a cardiologist and was later billed $1500. That’s just cuckoo. I know they overcharge to get whatever they can from insurers but even half that is excessive and it’s an insane way of determining costs in the first place. ‘let’s keep the price a secret and charge as much as humanly possible and let the chips fall as they may.’ There are human lives at stake for god’s sake.


    • After what happened last year with the GOP’s abortive attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare, I don’t have to much hope that anything associated with healthcare is going to be fixed. At least until the next time Democrats win Congress and they just go ahead and pass single payer.


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