Blue Dog Democrats endorse balanced budget amendment

posted at 7:20 pm on November 16, 2011 by Tina Korbe

The depressingly habitual struggles of the Super Committee to cut a mere $1.2 trillion of federal borrowing over the next 10 years invite anyone who considers out-of-control spending a problem to look to other solutions. As Allah implicitly predicted with his exit question yesterday, one such solution is constitutional reform — and the principal proposal for such reform is the balanced budget amendment.

A BBA with spending caps and a supermajority requirement to raise taxes would force massive spending cuts, including to entitlement programs. Depending on your perspective, that’s a positive. If you’re in the camp that considers the now-$15 trillion debt and the nation’s debt-to-GDP ratio to be an enormous drain on the economy, costing about 1 percent growth a year, which translates into about 1 million jobs, then spending cuts — however massive — would come as a welcome relief. If you’re in the camp that fears austerity measures could send us back into a recession, a constitutional measure to ensure cuts would seem dangerous and disastrous.

Nobody wants to have to retrench so much as to actually feel the pinch. Everybody would prefer to roll back spending gradually. But Congress repeatedly proves it’s incapable of even the slow-and-steady-spending-cut route. So, talk of a BBA is continually bandied about.

In this particular political climate — in which the majority of Americans actually favor a balanced budget amendment — opposition to a BBA isn’t politically smart. Blue Dog Democrats have known that — and been worried about it for a while. So it’s no surprise, really, that, today, the Blue Dog coalition in Congress announced that they would, in fact, endorse the balanced budget currently under consideration in Congress. The Hill reports:

“We were advancing a balanced budget amendment when balanced budget amendments weren’t cool,” Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.), told reporters on a conference call. …

“If any Blue Dog does not vote for it, I’d have to question how much they’re a Blue Dog,” [Blue Dog Rep. Jim] Matheson [D-UT] said.

Here’s the catch, though: The BBA presently under consideration is a far cry from the BBA featured in the Republican Study Committee’s “Cut, Cap and Balance” initiative. It lacks the spending caps and supermajority requirement to raise taxes — so it’s highly implausible that it will force spending cuts at all.

By bringing up a clean BBA for a vote, all Republicans have done is give Blue Dogs cover. Better by far to have voted on an amendment with caps and a supermajority requirement. Had Blue Dogs voted against that, Republicans could have explained to their constituents that their supposedly conservative Democratic representative opposed a measure the American people largely support.


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The artist is from New Orleans and I viewed his work in the gallery there Pre-Katrina. Great work.

carbon_footprint on November 16, 2011 at 7:23 PM

I oppose the BBA. Those who would abide by the Constitution would likely express fiscal responsibility, anyway. Those who disdain the rule of law wouldn’t abide by it, anyway.

In other words, the BBA would be ineffective and unnecessary.

Ace ODale on November 16, 2011 at 7:26 PM

Not increasing the Debt Limit is a de-facto BBA. Easy-peasy…if the cojones exist.

FCOL, people, this is easy…FREEZE THE DEBT LIMIT. Instant BBA. Without requiring the impossibility of passing a Constitutional Amendment.

Simply REFUSE to spend more, and it must then Balance.

As if they actually passed a Budget, as Required by Law, eh?

Who is John Galt on November 16, 2011 at 7:28 PM

Blue Dog Democrats endorse balanced budget amendment not really looking forward to looking for a job next year….

Especially in the $hitty economy they helped craft……

BigWyo on November 16, 2011 at 7:28 PM

Where were they when Cut, Cap, and Balance was proposed? I have no idea why the Leadership is bringing this bill. It is insanity. Of course the Democrats are going to vote for it. It is a license to spend and tax us into oblivion.

Kafir on November 16, 2011 at 7:29 PM

I have just one word “Stupak” don’t get Stupak’d

Dr Evil on November 16, 2011 at 7:31 PM

Ace ODale on November 16, 2011 at 7:26 PM

We had a candidate forum at my Tea Party meeting last night. I asked one of the candidates if he would support a bill that spent taxpayer money to educate young girls about the dangers of abortion. Being in a pro-life crowd, he said he would.

There are many who are just waiting to spend our money on their pet projects. Saying they’ll abide by the constitution is just their way of getting elected.

Kafir on November 16, 2011 at 7:34 PM

I thought the Blue Dog Democrats were Snowe, Collins, Lugar and Graham !

viking01 on November 16, 2011 at 7:37 PM

everything a BBA would accomplish could be accomplished with normal legislation… faster and easier…

equanimous on November 16, 2011 at 7:38 PM

The BBA idea is worthless. The crooks in Congress will find ways around it.

An amendment term limiting individual Congresspeople, restricting their ability to meet to twice a year, banning their ability to lobby after they leave office, forcing them to live by the laws they pass and eliminating lifetime pensions would go a long way to getting temporary members who would be more concerned about the country and not about themselves.

Only restrictions on Congress itself will weed out the crooks an get memebers who even care about a balanced budget.

rickyricardo on November 16, 2011 at 7:41 PM

It’s a bad idea. Politicians need to strike deals and make fiscal sanity part of legislation. Our deficits are part of recent history and they can be part of our past again without amending the constitution.

lexhamfox on November 16, 2011 at 7:44 PM

They’re not Bluedogs, they’re Lapdogs.

SlaveDog on November 16, 2011 at 7:44 PM

You can bet that any “Balanced Budget Ammendment” agreed to by Democrats will be designed so that it implements Automatic Tax Increases….forever!!!

…and NO spending cuts…ever!!!

landlines on November 16, 2011 at 7:49 PM

It’s a bad idea. Politicians need to strike deals and make fiscal sanity part of legislation. Our deficits are part of recent history and they can be part of our past again without amending the constitution.

lexhamfox on November 16, 2011 at 7:44 PM

Fiscal sanity doesn’t exist. It’s dead and not in the lexicon.

Congress itself must be reformed by imposed by a constitutional amendment.

rickyricardo on November 16, 2011 at 7:50 PM

Of all the pointless gimmicks embraced by so many otherwise sensible people, this is easily the second dumbest – first and more material being “energy independence,” which is neither feasible, desirable, nor yields any benefits and is economically as irrational as make-believe alternative energy.

As pointed out above, a BBA is a meaningless token, not even a speed-bump. Check out CA since about 2006 if you want to see a dry-run – and the CA constitution, with its very common bar on issuing debt only with the consent of the voters, is if anything a more robust mechanical barrier against over-spending. All that means is that a more outrageous and brazen level of lawlessness is needed to circumvent the law – as one sees in CA.

Lawlessness and cowardice are the main problems at all levels. The lawlessness is more pervasive – it’s rampant in the form of judicial tyranny following the shredding of the Constitution (now even including usurping the treaty power from the executive, a la the Hamdan case), the orwellian “interpretation” of plain language to mean its opposite. It’s exploded since the coronation of the affurmative akshun empty suit, with EOs and malfeasance and refusal to carry out the law. And the slow corrosive drip of illegal immigration lawlessness – with its “sanctuary cities” and capricious selective enforcement (arrive at LAX, better have your papers – sneak in or over-stay, step up to the buffet, and by the way your kids college tuition is at the in-state rate).

Ten years ago, when I was still there, some of us marveled at the tiny, tiny people who inhabited the Beltway. Real midgets, as far as responsibility and character go. The cowardice is amazing. From the whining and panic during the “dark days” of Iraq (which were never 1/1,000 as dark as the easiest day of WWII), to the disgusting passivity when the nation became one big repugnant lynch mob (misinformed hysteria over AIG “bonuses”), most of the GOP has shown what it’s made of.

IceCold on November 16, 2011 at 7:50 PM

I wonder what the
Militant ProgressiveTards think!!
(sarc).

canopfor on November 16, 2011 at 7:55 PM

I oppose this amendment for the simple reason that I don’t like the Constitution demeaned by law that won’t be followed and can’t be enforced. The California constitution requires that we balance the budget annually and look at us. It’s meaningless.

SukieTawdry on November 16, 2011 at 8:03 PM

everything a BBA would accomplish could be accomplished with normal legislation… faster and easier…

equanimous on November 16, 2011 at 7:38 PM

Nonsense. A simple BB bill could be overridden with a single sentence inserted into the next spending bill. Hell, what am I saying, it probably wouldn’t even need to be referenced. The latest bill would take precedence.

elfman on November 16, 2011 at 8:03 PM

The artist is from New Orleans and I viewed his work in the gallery there Pre-Katrina. Great work.

carbon_footprint on November 16, 2011 at 7:23 PM

That would be George Rodrigue.

George and his wife Wendy are on Facebook, and Wendy even has her own blog:

http://www.wendyrodrigue.com/

Del Dolemonte on November 16, 2011 at 8:07 PM

I have just one word “Stupak” don’t get Stupak’d

Dr Evil on November 16, 2011 at 7:31 PM

This. Over and over again. Never forget.

SouthernGent on November 16, 2011 at 8:10 PM

Rovin on November 16, 2011 at 7:41 PM

Far too many people having heartburn over nothing. Congress must laugh themselves silly behind closed doors.

Cindy Munford on November 16, 2011 at 8:27 PM

If you’re in the camp that considers the now-$15 trillion debt and the nation’s debt-to-GDP ratio to be an enormous drain on the economy, costing about 1 percent growth a year, which translates into about 1 million jobs.

Estimating the economic cost of the national debt is like estimating the number of jobs crated are saved from stimulus. Where did you get those numbers? Does it include the effect on investors knowing that government will soon be hunting for $15T of revenue? Does it include the effect on interest rates when borrowers know that government will attempt to inflate away much of the $15T

It lacks the spending caps and supermajority requirement to raise taxes — so it’s highly implausible that it will force spending cuts at all.

Nonsense. A chart from Public Notice shows that taxes would have to go up by 150% to balance the budget. I’m sure it’s not “highly implausible” that Congress will cut spending rather than dump a 150% suicide tax hike on voters.

elfman on November 16, 2011 at 8:43 PM

I thought the Blue Dog Democrats were Snowe, Collins, Lugar and Graham

How many actual “Blue Dog” Dems were there left after 2010? Heck, Ross announced long ago that he wouldn’t be seeking reelection.

JoeinTX on November 16, 2011 at 10:51 PM