House Republicans propose federal spending amendment

posted at 4:10 pm on March 3, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Over the past 30 years, a number of proposals for a balanced-budget amendment to the US Constitution have floated around Capitol Hill, but have gone almost nowhere.  States and voters may like the idea of Washington living within its means, but members of Congress don’t particularly care for the idea whenever it arises.  Reps. Mike Pence (R-IN) and Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) have a different approach in their new proposal, which focuses less on balancing budgets and more on limiting them:

This amendment would limit spending to one-fifth of the economy (our historical spending average since World War II). The limit could only be waived by a declaration of war or by a two-thirds congressional vote.

As with other constitutional amendments, Congress would be given the authority to enforce and implement it. But for the first time, the federal government would have a limit on its size and scope. The Spending Limit Amendment does not promise a particular spending plan about what programs to restrain and by how much. Rather, it puts a legal constraint on lawmakers present and future.

Some will say it should not be done now. But if not now, when?

Our spending problems are tantamount to generational theft and fundamentally alter the American ethic. We cannot have both unlimited government and unlimited opportunity.

That’s a lesson we’re currently learning the hard way … or, more accurately, some of us are learning.  The current administration and Democratic Congress keep doubling down on spending and deficits.  As government sucks up more capital, and as it sends strong pricing signals for massive taxes in order to service its enormous debt, the opportunities for Americans to prosper in freedom rather than toil in servitude to a nanny state will rapidly decline.

This brings up several questions, primarily whether 20% of GDP is the right number for a limit.  We’re already exceeding it at 24.7% now, and an explosion of entitlement commitments will put us around 40% within a couple of decades on our current trajectory.  Five years ago, we were barely under that.  Many people would argue that the cap should be even lower, and that having the federal government soak up every fifth dollar will still mean long-term trouble for economic growth.  Such a cap would force immediate entitlement reform, though, and it would push it in a direction that would make entitlement programs smaller, probably means-tested, and substantially privatized.

Of course, a Constitutional amendment would require two-thirds of Congress to pass it and three-quarters of the states to ratify it.  Even assuming that such a limitation would get two-thirds of Congress in support, would the states follow suit?  Possibly, although it might be a double-edged sword for them.  As the federal government reduces its size, it will put more pressure on states to replace the federal programs that get eliminated.  States often complain about unfunded mandates, but they don’t mind dipping into the federal trough, either.

If nothing else, it will start a much-needed debate on the proper size of the federal government, a debate that has been secondary to every issue on the national stage but rarely debated separately.  Whether or not 20% is the right number, we need to make a decision on some limitation Americans want for the cost of its government so that policymakers can know their limitations.  They certainly don’t know them now.


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Comments

Call it Obama’s Law.

RobCon on March 3, 2010 at 4:13 PM

18%, 20%, 24%, it doesn’t matter…pick 20% and stick with it. Just as long as there is a reasonable %.

right2bright on March 3, 2010 at 4:15 PM

If nothing else, it will start a much-needed debate on the proper size of the federal government, a debate that has been secondary to every issue on the national stage but rarely debated separately. Whether or not 20% is the right number, we need to make a decision on some limitation Americans want for the cost of its government so that policymakers can know their limitations. They certainly don’t know them now.

It’ll be difficult for something like this to pass before November, but at least having this discussion is a good start. It’ll only endear the GOP to the Tea Party movement. But they better put their money where their mouth is(literally) if/when they retake Congress and the White House.

Doughboy on March 3, 2010 at 4:16 PM

I’m not sure it would do any good. Like McCain-Feingold drove campaign finance chicanery underground, this would just encourage every sneakier spending tactics.

RushBaby on March 3, 2010 at 4:16 PM

It’s as likely to pass as Congress voting to freeze their own salaries.

Daggett on March 3, 2010 at 4:16 PM

I have an alternate suggestion: why don’t the members of congress do the job they were elected to do? If I ran a business the way they run government, I would go to jail.

Vashta.Nerada on March 3, 2010 at 4:17 PM

Declarations of war?

We’re in two wars right now — or are they only military engagements?

How about War on Terror? War on Poverty? War on Drugs?

John the Libertarian on March 3, 2010 at 4:18 PM

Vashta.Nerada on March 3, 2010 at 4:17 PM

Preach on! +100

search4truth on March 3, 2010 at 4:19 PM

like term limits, just a campaign gimick

the left would use it to dismantle the ‘military industrial complex’, not social engineering

jp on March 3, 2010 at 4:19 PM

O/T Eric Massa to retire, can’t keep his hands off the office help’one of the guy’s!

heshtesh on March 3, 2010 at 4:19 PM

It’s just a shame that the Republicans didn’t remember to control spending a few years earlier…

Snowed In on March 3, 2010 at 4:20 PM

If I ran a business the way they run government, I would go to jail.

Vashta.Nerada on March 3, 2010 at 4:17 PM

corruption in private industry does not have the staying power that corruption in government does

try explaining that to a leftist and they look as if someone just sharted

blatantblue on March 3, 2010 at 4:20 PM

This should be more than a proposal…this should be a platform. Make those conservatives or dems who are running either sign it or not, kind of like a “no new taxes” pledge. But make it a big deal. And then, in 2010 or 2012, THEN make it a proposal.

Matticus Finch on March 3, 2010 at 4:20 PM

Balanced Budget Amendment. Do it. Do it the other way around though. Don’t wait for Congress to act, the states can lead and push it to Congress.

El_Terrible on March 3, 2010 at 4:21 PM

A good start, or statement of principles.

Would it work? Probably not.

Scott H on March 3, 2010 at 4:22 PM

There are a ton of easier ways to clean up DC. For instance, you could fence it off and only let people in for 3000 days in their lifetime….

cthulhu on March 3, 2010 at 4:23 PM

American Thinker Graph of the Day covers this topic. TAKE A LOOK!

Can we go back to 1929? Please???

WashJeff on March 3, 2010 at 4:23 PM

It doesn’t need to go through Congress-Article V of the Constitution allows “…on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof…”

This process was followed for the repeal of Prohibition.

oddball on March 3, 2010 at 4:23 PM

Declarations of war?

We’re in two wars right now — or are they only military engagements?

How about War on Terror? War on Poverty? War on Drugs?

John the Libertarian on March 3, 2010 at 4:18 PM

Come on. Instead of war without a declaration of war, we’ll have declarations of war without war!

David Shane on March 3, 2010 at 4:23 PM

Or we could repeal the income tax amendment and starve the beast. But something has to give. Everybody has already seen this, but you can never be reminded too many times to check out the debt clock.

Read the last line. Unfunded liabilities total 107 trillion. It makes me literally nauseous.

entropent on March 3, 2010 at 4:24 PM

It’s a good start, but you also have to worry about the cost of federal regulations and mandates.

The ADA ordered businesses around the country to spend billions of dollars. Not one penny of that money came from congress.

MarkTheGreat on March 3, 2010 at 4:24 PM

They’d better do something an ddo it fast. The American people are watching the spending with horror.
I think it was Brit Hume that said that he has never seen people so concerned about Washington’s spending.

ORconservative on March 3, 2010 at 4:24 PM

Pie in the sky? Wishful thinking?

No matter what you call it; it ain’t ever gonna’ happen. Politicians in general – and Democrats specifically – LOVE to spend and they’re NOT going to approve ANY cap for ANY reason.

If you think the States are in financial trouble now, just wait until the federal teat runs dry!

GoldenEagle4444 on March 3, 2010 at 4:24 PM

OT (from Salem’s earnings press release a few minutes ago): On February 12, 2010, the company completed the acquisition of HotAir.com, a popular conservative Internet blog, for $2.0 million.

Jimbo3 on March 3, 2010 at 4:26 PM

No matter what you call it; it ain’t ever gonna’ happen. Politicians in general – and Democrats specifically – LOVE to spend and they’re NOT going to approve ANY cap for ANY reason.

GoldenEagle4444 on March 3, 2010 at 4:24 PM

Which is why I keep pushing the idea that we need to start talking about what the constitution for the govt that replaces this one will need to look like.

Crash and burn is coming, it’s probably now inevitable. What comes next is still open to discussion.

MarkTheGreat on March 3, 2010 at 4:28 PM

Jimbo3 on March 3, 2010 at 4:26 PM

Old news.

MarkTheGreat on March 3, 2010 at 4:29 PM

I think they should cap it at 7%…

… but that’s just me.

Seven Percent Solution on March 3, 2010 at 4:29 PM

Jimbo3 on March 3, 2010 at 4:26 PM

Old news.

MarkTheGreat on March 3, 2010 at 4:29 PM

That is the first time I saw the dollar amount. Good for MIchelle and the HA team. Get Rich!!!!

WashJeff on March 3, 2010 at 4:31 PM

MarkTheGreat on March 3, 2010 at 4:28 PM

Conservatives and liberals have been playing chicken for 50 years now. Conservatives cut taxes to starve the beast, and liberals grow government programs to try and force tax increases. At some point, we can’t borrow any more money, and either government gets cut, or taxes go sky high.

I am ready for that discussion now, and hopefully, so are the millions that attended tea parties over the past 18months.

Vashta.Nerada on March 3, 2010 at 4:31 PM

$2.0 million.

Jimbo3 on March 3, 2010 at 4:26 PM

AP IS TAKIN US OUT FOR APPLE TINIS

blatantblue on March 3, 2010 at 4:32 PM

Up and down vote on it.

Skywise on March 3, 2010 at 4:32 PM

AP IS TAKIN US OUT FOR APPLE TINIS

blatantblue on March 3, 2010 at 4:32 PM

+1

El_Terrible on March 3, 2010 at 4:32 PM

This is a great idea that is WAAAAY too late.

The last “amendment” I remember in my lifetime being bantered about was the “Equal Rights Amendment”. It did nothing but take up a lot of valuable debate time in this nation. It got a lot of people “wee-weed” up …

And it never passed (thank goodness).

It was years of torture though – as I recall.

Congress gave the ERA seven years to be ratified by the states – it wasn’t.

Then the painful “extension” of the time limit – to 1982 (I’m going by wiki here) … and it fizzled.

We won’t survive 7 to 10 years to see this amendment approved – if it even is.

Hell – If I were Obama I’d sign it just to make me look fiscally responsible. It’s a throwaway.

HondaV65 on March 3, 2010 at 4:33 PM

HondaV65 on March 3, 2010 at 4:33 PM

Presidents don’t sign constitutional amendments.

Snowed In on March 3, 2010 at 4:35 PM

This brings up several questions, primarily whether 20% of GDP is the right number for a limit.

What if a major war breaks out? (Major as in Russia or China; GWOT is small potatoes in spending terms.) Retaliation will be unconstitutional. Exceptions for emergencies would quickly be exploited, as everything would become an emergency.

A better solution would be to elect congressmen serious about constraining the size of federal spending, and that means voting out the Republicans along with the Democrats (if you need a reason, just look at their recent demagoguery regarding Social Security cuts).

Of $3.2T federal budget (last year’s numbers), half ($1.6T) goes to Soc. Sec., Medicare, Medicaid, and “Income Security” programs, just shy of one third (~$1.0T) goes to defense/national security, and one-twelfth ($260B) goes to interest on the debt. Only 12% of all federal spending (~$380B) goes to all other agencies and programs, yet it is only this 12% that anyone is talking about applying cuts to.

We can not get federal spending below 20% of GDP without either cuts for existing Social Security recipients or cuts to existing military wars/programs, and guess where Republicans stand regarding cuts to both of those.

hicsuget on March 3, 2010 at 4:35 PM

Howszabout we start following the plain language of the Constitution we have right now? What is the point of having yet another amendment to a document that a goodly portion of our elected officials pay absolutely no attention to right now?

A balanced budget capped at 20% GDP is a good idea but if people like Pelosi, who to give some perspective doesn’t give a **** what the Pope has to say on the subject of abortion, are part of the governance of this country they will have figured out how to get around it before the coffee is ready in the morning.

turfmann on March 3, 2010 at 4:36 PM

Related (coming at it from the opposite angle): Obama Supporters Use Latest Debt Projections to Press for Constitutional Amendment Allowing Involuntary Servitude

Mervis Winter on March 3, 2010 at 4:36 PM

18%, 20%, 24%, it doesn’t matter…pick 20% and stick with it. Just as long as there is a reasonable %.

right2bright on March 3, 2010 at 4:15 PM

I’d say it does matter. Whatever the percentage is, they will spend every penny of it. And whatever amount is left over will be gobbled up as useless pork.

Greek Fire on March 3, 2010 at 4:36 PM

Good idea. Now get it done.

noblejones on March 3, 2010 at 4:41 PM

..only if the amendment includes clear, undeniable language that requires every dollar spent, and every dollar received by the federal government be accounted. No more off budget spending or revenue. Every dollar spent, every dollar received.

Skandia Recluse on March 3, 2010 at 4:41 PM

Presidents don’t sign constitutional amendments.

Snowed In on March 3, 2010 at 4:35 PM

Fine … he can endorse it then. Same effect for him politically.

HondaV65 on March 3, 2010 at 4:41 PM

20%? What about the unfunded liabilities like Medicare?

usdebtclock.org

barnone on March 3, 2010 at 4:42 PM

I’d go lower than 20%, but having any limit would be valuable. Spending may now be at 24%, but the unpredictability of it means that the possibility of higher spending depresses the forward-looking economy. 20% spending with a hard cap would be much less harmful than 20% spending with no cap. I would support ratification.

joe_doufu on March 3, 2010 at 4:46 PM

We won’t survive 7 to 10 years to see this amendment approved – if it even is.

HondaV65 on March 3, 2010 at 4:33 PM

This.

There are just no words anymore to communicate the magnitude of our debt. We can default and rob our creditors, or we can inflate and rob our citizens. Whichever it is, it will happen long before our politicians man up and do anything about it.

This is the worst political class in the history of the Republic. God help us.

entropent on March 3, 2010 at 4:46 PM

Way too little. Way too late.

Ten yeas ago, this might have been possible. Stupid, to be sure, but at least theoretically possible.

To avoid imminent depression, the most we could possibly handle would be 10% of GDP.

logis on March 3, 2010 at 4:47 PM

corruption in private industry does not have the staying power that corruption in government does

try explaining that to a leftist and they look as if someone just sharted

blatantblue on March 3, 2010 at 4:20 PM

Yup. This simple and true observation makes their heads explode.

gwelf on March 3, 2010 at 4:57 PM

There are just no words anymore to communicate the magnitude of our debt.

entropent on March 3, 2010 at 4:46 PM

There are too words to communicate it. Words like these: “smaller as a share of GDP than Canada’s.” Drama queen.

hicsuget on March 3, 2010 at 4:58 PM

Yes yes yes. Do it, GOP! Start the debate now, allow it to gain steam as the Democrats continue to shoot themselves in the foot over the course of the year, and make it a central promise in the election campaigns of conservatives this year. When the inevitable blood bath occurs in November, make it the first priority of the new Congress.

If you think we won’t get any crossover Dems to vote for this, think again: moderate Dems know that this is a PERFECT opportunity for them to vote against continually expanding entitlements without the sticky business of actually voting against each specific entitlement. That way they can claim to be fiscally responsible instead of, say, voting to starve children or deny drugs to the elderly. Progs won’t like it, but they’ll never vote with us anyway, so the goal is to badly outnumber them and then peel off their moderate brethren.

I doubt that this would actually cap spending long-term, as we know that statists on both sides of the aisle will shortly find excuses to raise the limit just a smidge every year. However, it’s a step in the right direction, and as Ed suggests, opens the door for more such self-restrictive policies by the federal government. Halleluja!

Animator Girl on March 3, 2010 at 4:58 PM

It’s nice rhetoric, but if it were enacted it wouldn’t mean anything. 20% of GDP, but who calculates GDP, and how?

Steven Den Beste on March 3, 2010 at 5:02 PM

Submarine Sea Story …

I used to be a submariner – USS NEW YORK CITY (SSN 696). Anyway … as a young Sailor I concluded that the worst engineering development ever made to a torpedo was the development of wire guidance. Wire guidance gave Officers the ability to put a “steer” into the torpedo to adjust for target course and speed changes – or to just compensate for a sloppy intitial target solution.

Anyway … it’d go like this …

FIRE CONTROL: “Officer of the Deck, recommend a PORT 40 degree steer in the torpedo!”

PLOT: “DO NOT CONCUR! Too much – recommend PORT 20 degree steer in the torpedo!”

OOD: “What? You guys can’t agree?

— then a long debate about who had the better solution would commence. Finally – the OOD would say …

OOD: “Fire Control … place a PORT 40 degree steer in the torpedo!”

FIRE CONTROL: “Too late … we now need a PORT 90 degree steer!”

PLOT: “DO NOT CONCUR! PORT 40 required now!”

Why is this important to this thread about a Constitutional Amendment on Spending? Well – it’s because the final number in that amendment will be important – and it will be important TEN YEARS from now – when the torpedo of deficit spending is well down the track toward the target. Twenty percent will be TOO MUCH of GDP for spending – we’ll have to do a lot less. However, lawmakers will have this nice sheet of paper that allows them to spend twenty percent.

Just fire the torpedo – we already know we’re broke. We WILL hit the target if we just stop spending now. We don’t need limits, we don’t need amendments – we just need to STOP spending.

HondaV65 on March 3, 2010 at 5:04 PM

Would there be a procedure to object to a budget if it violated the Amendment? Or if it uses smoke and mirrors to violate the Amendment? Would there be judicial review? Who would have standing to object to a Federal budget? Any tax payer?

We do not need another natural born citizen situation where we have a constitutional provision designed to protect us but no means to enforce it.

tommylotto on March 3, 2010 at 5:06 PM

Off topic:
http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=Y2UyNWExMTYwM2VkYzk4YmY4NDNlZWZhODZmZWI5NjE=

Jason Chaffetz: Federal Employees Should Pay Federal Taxes. Any Questions?

Abby Adams on March 3, 2010 at 5:20 PM

Words like these: “smaller as a share of GDP than Canada’s.” Drama queen.

hicsuget on March 3, 2010 at 4:58 PM

I think you are talking about the deficit as a percentage of GNP. I am talking about the national debt, to include the 107 trillion in unfunded liabilities.

But hey, let’s not get all concerned about it. Because it’s no big deal. Really.

entropent on March 3, 2010 at 5:23 PM

You have to wonder what the Founding Fathers would have thought if they’d known that one day people would be arguing about whether or not to reduce federal spending to one fifth of the nation’s wealth.

America is speeding- hurtling- towards total economic collapse and the morons in Washington either don’t care or are hoping some other politician will make tough choices and fix it. Whichever it is, they aren’t changing their spending spree- something needs to be done about it as soon as possible.

Personally, I think 20% is too high- but it’s a start: and a constitutional amendment like it might make it easier for the political class to start trying to apply the brakes before the whole nation comes off the rails- “hey folks, I’d love give you those entitlements you want but my hands are tied”

To be blunt- America, on its current course, is doomed. Something, anything, needs to be done to save it.

Jay Mac on March 3, 2010 at 5:31 PM

It’s as likely to pass as Congress voting to freeze their own salaries.

Daggett on March 3, 2010 at 4:16 PM

Regarding freezing congressional wages, encourage BOTH party primaries to include that proposition for their party platform legislative agenda. Voters voice the people’s mandate.

It isn’t as if Republicans or Libertarians are the only fiscally responsible legislators willing to practice this symbolic gesture. Congressman Harry Mitchell, Arizona’s Democrat who unseated J.R.Hayworth, never accepts Congressional pay hikes. He didn’t while serving in Arizona’s Legislature, either.

maverick muse on March 3, 2010 at 5:33 PM

It’s about time. And it’s a question we can ask candidates in the 2010 elections.

hawksruleva on March 3, 2010 at 5:35 PM

20% is an outrage. We’re at 20% NOW!!!! If the GOP wants to kepp pissing off conservatives, let them propose this nonsense in the major media.

IT’S TIME TO TAKE A MEAT CLEAVER TO EVERY AGENCY IN THE GOVERNMENT. FEDERAL, STATE AND LOCAL.

roninacreage on March 3, 2010 at 5:36 PM

Whatever the percentage number would be one thing is certain: Spending will always and forever press the bleeding maximum limit.

JonPrichard on March 3, 2010 at 5:49 PM

IT’S TIME TO TAKE A MEAT CLEAVER TO EVERY AGENCY IN THE GOVERNMENT. FEDERAL, STATE AND LOCAL.

roninacreage on March 3, 2010

I think that’s exactly right, sooner rather than later!

JonPrichard on March 3, 2010 at 5:50 PM

AP IS TAKIN US OUT FOR APPLE TINIS

blatantblue on March 3, 2010 at 4:32 PM

+1

El_Terrible on March 3, 2010 at 4:32 PM

I’m there!!!!!!

huskerdiva on March 3, 2010 at 5:58 PM

20% is an outrage. We’re at 20% NOW!!!! If the GOP wants to kepp pissing off conservatives, let them propose this nonsense in the major media.

IT’S TIME TO TAKE A MEAT CLEAVER CHAINSAW TO EVERY AGENCY IN THE GOVERNMENT. FEDERAL, STATE AND LOCAL.

roninacreage on March 3, 2010 at 5:36 PM

FIFY

huskerdiva on March 3, 2010 at 6:01 PM

Even God only asks for 10%

Fatal on March 3, 2010 at 6:05 PM

20% sounds way too much to fund the protection of individual rights – national defense, law enforcement and a court system, which is after all the only legitimate role of government.

Sharke on March 3, 2010 at 6:11 PM

Spending limits need to be imposed upon Congress by the American voters since congressional members won’t by themselves.

For the voters to succeed, the Tea Party would have to convert the Republican Party away from neoconservative too big to fail federal government agenda.

Until Republicans are willing to research the Leninist origin and evolution of neoconservatism, and repudiate that corruption of the “conservative” label in order to support our Constitutional limited Governance with separation of powers as our founders designed for us, the nation continues to self-destruct through progressive socialism with all of its corrupt and burdensome costs.

Study the example from the Republican politicians who coincidentally decided to feign participation in the Tea Party in order to woo that momentum, now distracted from the total corruption target. The Tea Party identified bipartisan incumbent official corruption in office. But not since the media and the Republican Party have preemptively revised the direction to rescind power from the corrupt in office. By becoming absorbed by the mainstream neoconservative Republican Part, the protest is being diverted away from corrupt Republicans and placed squarely at Democrats alone. “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” was Perry’s shallow move. He already promised in debate to repeat his unconstitutional and corrupt personal PAC kickback practices.

The Republican big tent voraciously swallows and excretes camels full of corruption, but chokes on the gnat of Constitutional integrity.

It’s one thing to sing the Tea Party refrain, and quite the other to stop abuse of powers in our government. There is no excuse just because it’s always easier to point out the Democrats’ fraud. Ignoring how your own Republican neoconservative affect creates the same overpriced and unconstitutional FEDERAL abuse of powers and fraud only makes that fraud greater and the corruption stronger. Excusing your own corrupt self interests equates to mafia rationale.

Despite all his lip service warning of the coming economic meltdown, Bush did not stop or prevent any meltdown, ignoring Congressional rebuttals to the RECORD against Fanny/Freddy mortgage investor schemes. And as Bush was leaving, he designed and implemented Obama’s means to destroy our national economy, designating with an executive order unconstitutional AUTONOMOUS authoritarian powers to be vested in the Sec./Treasury that by executive order no one may question or research, NO TRANSPARENCY in the Treasury Dept. alignment between the NON-government body Federal Reserve owned today by/as Goldman Sachs. /possession being 9/10ths of the law/

Don’t extinguish the record as if that will negate the real threat of economic ruin, solving the problem.

maverick muse on March 3, 2010 at 6:16 PM

Besides which if you give them a figure you’re just encouraging them to make no effort toward spending less than that figure. Like someone else said, if they spend less tham 20% there will just be this mad rush to spend the rest on pork.

It kind of reminds me of the reason why building standards are so poor in Britain – with the introduction of the official building code, builders had less incentive to compete with each other – they caught onto the fact that all they had to do was build to the exact specifications of the code. Now everything is built to the minimum legal standard (which changes every year along with the whims of faceless bureaucrats) and you don’t see anything like the kind of building standards I saw during my first couple of years in the US when I worked in house construction. People become a slave to official targets (as can be seen in the NHS) and innovation and achievement suffer as a result.

Sharke on March 3, 2010 at 6:20 PM

waived by a declaration of war or by a two-thirds congressional vote.

I forsee lots of wars coming against St. Lucia, Canada and The Bahamas.

angryed on March 3, 2010 at 6:28 PM

20% sounds way too much to fund the protection of individual rights – national defense, law enforcement and a court system, which is after all the only legitimate role of government.

Sharke on March 3, 2010 at 6:11 PM

Start with flat 10% federal income tax from which Congress may only spend 80% yearly. Balanced budgets require savings.

The Federal Reserve has profited far too long this past century, having made no insurance payments as its designation requires. Failing banks were simply absorbed by others. No one’s personal accounts have been “lost” in bank runs YET. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve has taken possession of our national treasury. Our treasury has been raided and plundered behind vault doors by the watch keepers making their sophisticated investments AT OUR EXPENSE. In practical terms, our treasury no longer exists except in the imaginary value given paper and plastic.

Revert to national banking practices PRIOR to the monstrous Wilson Federal Reserve.

Designate the US national debt the obligation of the Federal Reserve, its executives having looted our treasury to invest for their personal profit.

Drudge Report headlined another warning by reputable economists that our economy is approaching a much greater downturn than we are experiencing.

maverick muse on March 3, 2010 at 6:28 PM

Want to spend more… umm I just came up with this new way to calculate GDP.
.
You just take this old GDP number and multiply it by 1.25 to adjust for “missed data”, which may or may not have been missed.
.
Wa La the old 20 percent is the new 25 percent.

Dasher on March 3, 2010 at 6:41 PM

The best proposal I’ve seen is the one in the Bill of Federalism. In any year in which the debt increases, the President gets a line-item veto. If he fails to use it, he can be held personally and individually responsible. If it’s overridden, the congresscritters involved can be held individually responsible. And if Congress doesn’t want it, they can restrain their spending.

njcommuter on March 3, 2010 at 6:45 PM

Don’t hold your breath. Republicans are proposing this now because they are in the minority. If they win seats in November, they will conveniently forget about this whole idea until the next time the Dems get the upper hand. It’s a good idea but no one in Congress has any incentive to make it happen.

JackOfClubs on March 3, 2010 at 6:49 PM

10% non-defensive spending.

20% is way too much. I’d even argue that in a Rothbardian way 10% is too much.

Tim Burton on March 3, 2010 at 7:00 PM

Personally, I would support any and all of the following ideas to reduce the size and spending of our government:
1) Balanced Budget Amendment or spending Amendment, 2) Flat Tax and 3) Repeal the Income Tax.

Those ideas have been around for a long time. However, I think our government ought to have some program in place where we start actually paying off our debt.

Mitt Romney points out that the government publishes something similar to an annual budget but it doesn’t publish a balance sheet like normal business do. If our government did that, the debate over government spending would change drastically because the government would be forced to show its entitlement liabilities which is a large part of why our government is going into debt.

If the American people saw the balance sheet, people would be support limited government and limited spending overnight.

It’s a good start, but you also have to worry about the cost of federal regulations and mandates.

The ADA ordered businesses around the country to spend billions of dollars. Not one penny of that money came from congress.

MarkTheGreat on March 3, 2010 at 4:24 PM

When I was in law school, I worked at an law firm as an intern that dealt with the ADA. I was amazed at how much power the ADA has and how much it hurts businesses.

For conservative criticism of the ADA, I recommend book that talks about the ADA, I recommend Disabling America: The Unintended Consequences of the Government’s Protection of the Handicapped and Make Them Go Away: Clint Eastwood, Christopher Reeve and the Case Against Disability Rights

Conservative Samizdat on March 3, 2010 at 8:15 PM

How about we just return all domestic policy to the states as was originally intended?

jhffmn on March 3, 2010 at 10:24 PM

Too high. One might remember that some of our most successful times were when the government’s budget was less than 10% of GDP.

This may be an argument to try 20% for 20 years. If that works knock it back to a smaller number. If not repeal it. Put in the amendment the required review after 20 years.

{^_^}

herself on March 4, 2010 at 5:26 AM

It is a good idea but at this point it is nothing more than a political gimic to score points. There is “no way” that the current congress would approve such an ammendment.

duff65 on March 4, 2010 at 11:48 AM