Senate follows suit, likely to vote soon on balanced budget amendment

posted at 3:45 pm on July 14, 2011 by Tina Korbe

Yesterday, I offered it as a hopeful sign amid all the gloom-and-doom of the debt debate (optimism for a deal at an all-time low and all that) that the House Republicans still plan to vote on a balanced budget amendment next week. Now, it looks like the Senate will follow suit. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is expected to force a vote on a BBA in the Senate sometime in the next two weeks.

Obviously, a balanced budget amendment is a very different proposition in the Senate than it is in the House. As is always much discussed in relation to such an amendment, the threshold for constitutional change is quite high. Amending the Constitution requires a two-thirds vote by each chamber and the ratification of three-fourths of the state legislatures. That means Senate Republicans would need the support of 20 Democrats to pass it. But … it just so happens that at least 20 Democrats have said in the past they would support some kind of balanced budget amendment.

Not all BBAs are created equal, however. Garnering Democratic support for the sort of amendment that meets the strictures of the “Cut, Cap and Balance” pledge that has provided so much momentum for the balanced budget amendment movement at this juncture in the first place is very different than garnering Democratic support for a generic BBA. The amendment under consideration in the context of “Cut, Cap and Balance” would also constrain taxing and spending in significant ways, whereas some types of BBAs provide justification for tax increases.

But the bottom line is, as much of a pipe dream as it might seem, Republicans are doing just what they should be by keeping this in the public eye and even making it a part of the debt limit debate. I’ll keep repeating it: A majority of Americans support a balanced budget amendment and a significant portion have even said they’d be more likely to give their political support to a candidate who has supported a BBA than one who hasn’t. These sorts of gestures show the American people Republicans are on the side of fiscal restraint — and, ideally, help to move the electorate in the direction of shaping a Congress that someday might actually pass such an amendment.


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Hell Yeah!

Speakup on July 14, 2011 at 3:47 PM

Let the pushing of oldsters into canyons commence!

Bishop on July 14, 2011 at 3:48 PM

Just refuse to raise the debt ceiling, and the budget is automatically balanced. Like magic!

Emperor Norton on July 14, 2011 at 3:50 PM

But the bottom line is, as much of a pipe dream as it might seem, Republicans are doing just what they should be by keeping this in the public eye and even making it a part of the debt limit debate

Yes, indeed.

Weight of Glory on July 14, 2011 at 3:51 PM

the debt is impt. every American needs to have an understanding of it–even as basic as what I myself can conceive.

President Patience-of-Job Bluffy would rather play golf or negotiate the NFL lockout (cause he’s such a good negotiator).

catch on Bluffy. this is impt.

kelley in virginia on July 14, 2011 at 3:54 PM

Will a BBA require that Congress actually, you know, pass an annual budget?

MJBrutus on July 14, 2011 at 3:55 PM

I don’t think a BBA will do any good.

SouthernGent on July 14, 2011 at 3:56 PM

Let’s roll!

cmsinaz on July 14, 2011 at 3:58 PM

As long as dems are hell bent on attaing more power, and keeping the power they have, they won’t oblige this. Anything that keeps them from achieving their agenda is just not going to happen.

capejasmine on July 14, 2011 at 3:59 PM

I don’t think a BBA will do any good.

SouthernGent on July 14, 2011 at 3:56 PM

Why not??

derft on July 14, 2011 at 4:00 PM

Democrats would view a balanced budget amendment as empowering them to raise taxes to try to make up for ever increasing spending.

gwelf on July 14, 2011 at 4:03 PM

why does the Senate need to vote on a balanced budget amendment? Hasn’t Mitch McConnell given power to Obama to just pass this with a wave of his hand yet?

No? I’m surprised.

Balanced Budget Amendment – remind me – what does that do to curtail spending within the next ten years?

Oh … that’s right – it does NOTHING to curtail spending.

However, it’ll be used as “pap” thrown to the masses by our overlords in Congress (both Dim and Republican) to say to us … “Now shut up and stop worrying your pretty heads about the deficit! See! We’ve fixed the problem!”

The BBA will take years – if not decades to pass. And, you can be sure our “overlords” have written it in such a manner that they’ll still receive what they deem is their “share” of our labors via coerced tax revenue – which will be “redistributed” to their special interest power bases in order to keep them in power. This is the way the game works folks.

Expect to see MANY Dims voting for this! They’re on to the ruse! They can vote for this bill – and go home and campaign in 2012 and say … “See what a fiscally responsible guy I am! Vote for me!”

Because they know – this thing won’t kick in for a decade – if even then.

We don’t have a decade. We don’t even have two or three years.

Yep – when the GOP CAVES to Obama on the debt ceiling – expect to see Mitch McConnell on the television proclaiming it a victory – because they got, out of the deal, a BBA.

Kabuki.

HondaV65 on July 14, 2011 at 4:03 PM

A balance budget amendment will be ratified by exactly zero states. All of the states have been forcefully subjugated to the federal government, upon which they are now totally dependent, and most will rely on federal deficit spending for their own bailouts.

MassVictim on July 14, 2011 at 4:04 PM

What I don’t understand is, why WOULDN’T the Dems support a BBA? Is it simply partisanship, or do they not want to be tethered in their spending? How bad will it make Dems look to the citizenry if they refuse to sign a limiter to their spending and agree to being fiscally responsible by law?

No money in SS.
No money in Medicare.
No money in Medicaid.

Anyone that is in the ‘system’ probably cares that the federal government spends the above *guarantees* making it less likely that ANYONE will see $1 or get any care…worst scam eva’

Geministorm on July 14, 2011 at 4:04 PM

Just refuse to raise the debt ceiling, and the budget is automatically balanced. Like magic!

Emperor Norton on July 14, 2011 at 3:50 PM

Balancing the budget will cause is to go into default and we’ll have Americans dying in the streets and their homes.

gwelf on July 14, 2011 at 4:05 PM

It all depends on what your definition of the word “balanced” is…..

PaCadle on July 14, 2011 at 4:05 PM

I don’t think a BBA will do any good.

SouthernGent on July 14, 2011 at 3:56 PM

Agreed. Chances are its “implementation” will be subject to all kinds of caveats, adjustments, and interpretations. It will be as effective as Osama Obama’s “spending cuts.”

Has the Traitor-in-Chief even faced any harsh words for his lies and violations? Why should anyone in government think this amendment would apply to them after the current regime’s shameful display of law-flouting?

MrScribbler on July 14, 2011 at 4:05 PM

My only worry is that a bba would be use to lock our tax system into place and prevent any simplification or flattening of the rates. Wouldn’t it mean we would need supermajorities just to get the half that doesn’t pay taxes to do so?

Count to 10 on July 14, 2011 at 4:06 PM

Lets not forget that a BBA is not a fact after Congress passes it. It still must work it’s way through the states, and therein lies a problem.

Budgets offered while the BBA is being ratified will not have to abide by it. So for the near future, merely passing a BBA in Congress has no effect on upcoming budgets.

Status quo, with a BBA feather in politicians’ hats. Smoke and mirrors.

BobMbx on July 14, 2011 at 4:07 PM

I heartily recommend hearing this interveiw with Newt this morning. I have as many problems with Newt as others do, but he nails it — the chronic capitulation of Republicans and the reasons behind it, as well as how to do it differently.

http://www.breitbart.tv/gingrich-slams-mcconnells-plan/

rrpjr on July 14, 2011 at 4:09 PM

It all depends on what your definition of the word “balanced” is…..

PaCadle on July 14, 2011 at 4:05 PM

Bingo.

“Income” from borrowing is still tabulated as a credit on the balance sheet, and offset by the debit of the note. By one definition, the budge already (and always) is balanced. No reason to waste time playing these games while Rome burns.

MassVictim on July 14, 2011 at 4:09 PM

Oh look a distraction.

Stop spending, no amendment needed.

Up next they talk about a VAT tax instead of talking about stopping & reversing spending

batterup on July 14, 2011 at 4:09 PM

Democrats would view a balanced budget amendment as empowering them to raise taxes to try to make up for ever increasing spending.

gwelf on July 14, 2011 at 4:03 PM

Fine. Let them face the voters. The BBA is to protect the country from people who want government giveaways and also low taxes.

pedestrian on July 14, 2011 at 4:09 PM

Lets not forget that a BBA is not a fact after Congress passes it. It still must work it’s way through the states, and therein lies a problem.

BobMbx on July 14, 2011 at 4:07 PM

Right. And asking the states to ratify a BBA is like allowing only welfare queens to vote on a referendum to “end welfare as we know it.”

MassVictim on July 14, 2011 at 4:11 PM

Oh look a distraction.

Stop spending, no amendment needed.

batterup on July 14, 2011 at 4:09 PM

There is always the block of swing voters whose net effect is support this and that and just pull out the federal credit card to make up the difference. The BBA puts an end to that.

pedestrian on July 14, 2011 at 4:11 PM

The Republicans should serve notice that if there is no change in the debt limit and Obama refuses to cut anything, that they will massively publicize every dime that Obama chooses to spend, and every dime that Obama chooses to cut.

That way, if Obama chooses to cut Social Security and spend the money on ACORN and his union pals, the outrage will be directed squarely at the source of our budget problem: Obama and the Democrat cabal.

landlines on July 14, 2011 at 4:12 PM


HondaV65 on July 14, 2011 at 4:03 PM

For one, you’re right that to pass the BBA it will take at least 6-10 years. However, the plan (according to what I’ve heard Jim Demint say) is to implement a bill every year that effectively implements the BBA and forces the Congress to balance the budget, spend no more than 18% of GDP and not to raise taxes without a super-majority. So, while I’m as cynical, if not more, than most, I’d say this is a good start and actually may rein in the slimeballs up in DC.

Having said that, having a BBA will NOT ease the deficit…it merely halts the runs away train. The big problem is that even if we break even every year, the interest on our debt (as Medicare, Medicaid and SS continue to drain larger and larger portions of the economy) will be impossible to keep up with. Frankly, I see no solution to this situation except to go bankrupt. The longer we draw this out, the more painful it’s going to be when it finally falls on top of us.

Geministorm on July 14, 2011 at 4:13 PM

Don’t you have to have a budget first before you can balance it…?

… Oh, wait!

Seven Percent Solution on July 14, 2011 at 4:13 PM

Sorry, deficit = debt.

Geministorm on July 14, 2011 at 4:17 PM

It doesn’t matter…

… the Democrats would sneak into the bill an exemption for themselves.

Seven Percent Solution on July 14, 2011 at 4:18 PM

Why not??

derft on July 14, 2011 at 4:00 PM

How does it pass 38 states?

BuckeyeSam on July 14, 2011 at 4:19 PM

Fine. Let them face the voters. The BBA is to protect the country from people who want government giveaways and also low taxes.

pedestrian on July 14, 2011 at 4:09 PM

I support a BBA amendment and I think it could help solve a lot of our problems but it’s not a panacea.

Liberals already talk non-stop about raising taxes. They fear raising taxes on the middle class. With a BBA they would still demagogue about the evils of the rich and the need to tax them into oblivion or else grandma will die. Democrats would rather have a stagnating economy than cut spending – e.g., they will always prefer high taxes to balance a budget and oppose spending cuts.

A BBA would put some limits to what they could spend – they couldn’t borrow us off of a cliff but it won’t stop them from turning the American economy of growth and prosperity into the stagnating economy of Europe.

gwelf on July 14, 2011 at 4:23 PM

Right. And asking the states to ratify a BBA is like allowing only welfare queens to vote on a referendum to “end welfare as we know it.”

MassVictim on July 14, 2011 at 4:11 PM

Yeah – there is no way it will pass enough states. Too many of them know they are going to need federal bail outs to stay ‘solvent’ in the next decade or so.

gwelf on July 14, 2011 at 4:24 PM

If a BBA was pegged to a fixed % of GDP then that would be the best of all options. Of course this would systematically limit the growth of government so there is no chance it would pass.

gwelf on July 14, 2011 at 4:26 PM

The BBA is a joke. It’s like a pledge. How would it be enforced?

BBA will never become the law of the land.

Really Right on July 14, 2011 at 4:30 PM

BBA could certainly become the law of the land. I can hear the ads FOR it in Virginia: if the Commonwealth balances her budget, don’t you think the Congress should do the same? I mean, how could you vote NO to that?

kelley in virginia on July 14, 2011 at 4:33 PM

How does it pass 38 states?

BuckeyeSam on July 14, 2011 at 4:19 PM

Check your math. It must be ratified by 43 of the 57 states. Now we know why we have 7 extra states. It takes 5 more ratify an amendment. 38 is tough. 43…impossible. Mostly because nobody knows where those other 7 states are.

BobMbx on July 14, 2011 at 4:36 PM

Read the amendment people. It prohibits defining borrowing as income and fixes the size of the federal budget to 18 percent of GDP.

andy85719 on July 14, 2011 at 4:38 PM

The BBA is a joke. It’s like a pledge. How would it be enforced?

BBA will never become the law of the land.

Really Right on July 14, 2011 at 4:30 PM

Dare I say it…the Supreme Court?

BobMbx on July 14, 2011 at 4:40 PM

If a BBA was pegged to a fixed % of GDP then that would be the best of all options. Of course this would systematically limit the growth of government so there is no chance it would pass.

gwelf on July 14, 2011 at 4:26 PM

And you would never, ever get a smaller government as it would always, and ever, take up that percentage of GDP.

Income must be greater than or equal to outgo.

Debt retired cannot be increased.

A really mean section would be Congress shall not make anything but gold or silver Coin a tender for debt. If you don’t got it as backing you can’t spend it… no fiat currencies allowed with that. Of course Congress will never allow itself to be fettered with a hard currency any more…not while it has its spiffy Federal Reserve run by the largest banks in the Nation to be its little puppydog fiat currency maker.

ajacksonian on July 14, 2011 at 4:40 PM

For a conservative web site there sure is a lot of gloom and doom today. Nothing ever gets done by declaring something can’t happen. How do you get 38 states to approve? It will take ten years. SP can’t win. MB can’t win.( etc. etc. etc.).

You cannot spend more then you take in. Sooner or later the country will collapse. If we had started drilling for oil 20 years ago we would not have $4 gasoline now. They used the same arguments to not drill.

Do the right thing and fight like hell for what is best for the country. Excuses are for losers. Damn I’m depressed.

derft on July 14, 2011 at 4:49 PM

Balancing the budget will cause is to go into default and we’ll have Americans dying in the streets and their homes.

No, that’s pure nonsense.

First of all, there will be nobody dying on my street.

And if the Federal government defaults, it does not default on the entire National Debt at once, only a little bit at a time. Remember, Treasury bills are auctioned every week. In case of default, maturities of some Treasury notes would probably be extended, as a stopgap measure.

You are also confusing the National Debt with the current year’s spending, which has a huge deficit.

If the debt ceiling is raised, that simply means that no more money can be added to the National Debt. The current year deficit, therefore, would have to be closed immediately. As in, right now. Choices will be made, and in a big hurry. We’ll save Social Security, Medicare, interest payments, and Defense, but after that it’s anyone’s guess.

First cut? My guess would be National Public Radio.

Emperor Norton on July 14, 2011 at 4:51 PM

/If the debt ceiling is NOT raised, that simply means that no more money can be added to the National Debt.

Emperor Norton on July 14, 2011 at 4:53 PM

BBA can’t work, aside from the impossible path to passing it. I expect that the definition of ‘balanced’ would quickly become as loosey-goosey as the federal government’s calculation of the inflation rate.

slickwillie2001 on July 14, 2011 at 4:53 PM

How does it pass 38 states?

BuckeyeSam on July 14, 2011 at 4:19 PM

34 states have republican controlled legislatures or split. (Plus there is nebraska which is ‘non-partisan’).

3 states have republican governors with a dem legislature.

34+1+3=38.

clement on July 14, 2011 at 5:42 PM

I don’t think a BBA will do any good.

SouthernGent on July 14, 2011 at 3:56 PM

Why not??

derft on July 14, 2011 at 4:00 PM

North Carolina has a BBA. The budget was never balanced except on paper with gimmickery and tricks. Same thing will happen at the Federal level.

SouthernGent on July 14, 2011 at 5:55 PM

Folks, check your IRS withholding for 2011, because if you overpay you might have trouble getting your money back next year. I can see little Bammie paying refunds with vouchers or some kind of government security. It happened in California.

slickwillie2001 on July 14, 2011 at 6:28 PM

Why are so many people getting so excited about a BBA. This could take a decade to pass all the states even if dem govs let it come up for a vote. This is not a quick way to win back the country.

Kissmygrits on July 15, 2011 at 9:10 AM