House votes down clean balanced budget amendment

posted at 3:50 pm on November 18, 2011 by Tina Korbe

Ed and I have warned repeatedly of the dangers of the clean balanced budget amendment that was up for a vote in the House of Representatives today. Without spending caps or a supermajority requirement to raise taxes, this particular BBA essentially amounted to a license to spend profligately and hike taxes however high to balance the budget. Under it, deficit spending — exactly what any BBA purports to eliminate — would even be allowed by a bare three-fifths supermajority (not as high a standard as a two-thirds supermajority).

Luckily, the House voted down the amendment. With 261 in favor and 165 opposed, the chamber fell 23 votes shy of the two-thirds requirement to pass an amendment to the constitution.

As a reminder, as part of the Budget Control Act (i.e. the act that unsatisfactorily ended this summer’s debt ceiling debate), Congress promised to at least vote on a balanced budget amendment. Today’s action satisfies that requirement of the BCA — but is a far cry in two respects from what Republicans originally pushed for with “Cut, Cap and Balance.”

In the first place, Republicans who wanted CCB to be the price of a debt ceiling increase wanted the amendment passed and sent to the states before we raised the debt ceiling. Obviously, that didn’t happen. But, in the second place, and most importantly, they didn’t just want any old BBA; they wanted an amendment that would force major spending cuts. Again, this amendment was not that.

What’s most disturbing to me about this vote, though, is that just four Republicans voted against it. Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan was one of them.

“I’m concerned that this version will lead to a much bigger government fueled by more taxes,” he explained.

Ryan is right.

Incidentally, I’m surprised so many Dems voted against it. What don’t they like about “a much bigger government fueled by more taxes?”

Today’s vote is troubling for another reason, too. This gives politicians the opportunity to curry unwarranted favor with the  many Americans who support a balanced budget amendment. Today provides cover to both Republicans who promised to take action on a BBA and to Blue Dog Democrats, who most assuredly would have voted against a BBA with caps and a supermajority requirement. Now, all 261 representatives who voted in favor of the BBA can say, “Don’t blame us for the deficit and debt. We voted in favor of a balanced budget amendment.”

As an unabashed and staunch supporter of Cut, Cap and Balance (I cried when it failed the Senate!), I’m disappointed with today’s poor, pale and purely political attempt to prove commitment to the “balance” bit of CCB — and relieved this particular BBA failed.


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I think it is time for a constitutional convention.

NotCoach on November 18, 2011 at 3:54 PM

I too do not like the clean BBA. Then again, a clean BBA will force the government to do one of two things, raise taxes or reduce spending, or a combination. Likely they will try to keep the spending and raise taxes, but taxes on the rich cannot be raised enough to pay for the spending, thus the taxes will have to be increased on the middle and lower tax rate payers, hopefully capturing many of the 45% who pay nothing.

Then the people will likely start calling for a spending cap amendment.

Of course, if you can get a spending cap/BBA passed, I would go for that. So, can it pass?

astonerii on November 18, 2011 at 3:56 PM

“I’m concerned that this version will lead to a much bigger government fueled by more taxes,” he explained.
Ryan is right.

He usually is.

mankai on November 18, 2011 at 3:56 PM

What’s most disturbing to me about this vote, though, is that just four Republicans voted against it. Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan was one of them.

Show votes. Better to vote for a BBA that will die before the next session of congress then to explain why you didn’t vote for it.

NotCoach on November 18, 2011 at 3:58 PM

“What don’t they like about “a much bigger government fueled by more taxes?”

Maybe they didn’t read the bill…?

… Oh, wait!

Seven Percent Solution on November 18, 2011 at 3:59 PM

I think it is time for a constitutional convention.

NotCoach on November 18, 2011 at 3:54 PM

Only if its done the Democratic way…..

In absolute secrecy.

BobMbx on November 18, 2011 at 4:00 PM

I think it is time for a constitutional convention.

NotCoach on November 18, 2011 at 3:54 PM

Wait for July…

… the OWS (sponsored by Soros) will have their own, and even come out with a new Constitution.

Obowma will stop at nothing to get re-elected…

Seven Percent Solution on November 18, 2011 at 4:02 PM

Allen West is on Cavuto right now defending this fake BBA and my congressman, Kevin Brady, also voted for it. He’ll be hearing from me.

cartooner on November 18, 2011 at 4:05 PM

Every Republican who voted for that crap needs to be primaried.

Kafir on November 18, 2011 at 4:07 PM

so all but 4 rebubs voted for this stinker? message not received from a year ago I guess.

maineconservative on November 18, 2011 at 4:07 PM

Allen West is on Cavuto right now defending this fake BBA and my congressman, Kevin Brady, also voted for it. He’ll be hearing from me.

cartooner on November 18, 2011 at 4:05 PM

I really do not like it when the party grandstands and awards most conservative accolades on untried politicians. here is yet another example of that.

astonerii on November 18, 2011 at 4:15 PM

Wait for July…

… the OWS (sponsored by Soros) will have their own, and even come out with a new Constitution.

Obowma will stop at nothing to get re-elected…

Seven Percent Solution on November 18, 2011 at 4:02 PM

the NWO Constitution :-)…so that’s Obama’s plan to get re-elected? :-) Heck, hope he goes full speed ahead with it, his ‘crash’ will be epic in that case…

jimver on November 18, 2011 at 4:18 PM

I’m thinking that about the only way to fix this budget/spending problem is to completely bypass the federal government. States need to begin withholding federal taxes until such a time that the feds get their act together. Not sure how that could be done…but I suspect a states legislature could put forth some provision whereby all federal corporate taxes and payroll tax withholdings would go into a state account. Of course with some states like California they couldn’t begin to pay for their own infrastructure without mass infusions of federal dollars from the rest of us…but I think I would call that more of a feature of the plan than a problem.

BadMojo on November 18, 2011 at 4:20 PM

OT: Joe Paterno admitted to Hospital

portlandon on November 18, 2011 at 4:22 PM

BadMojo: If the states withhold federal taxes, you will have 1861 all over again.

Scott H on November 18, 2011 at 4:23 PM

Just like you don’t need a law for term limits, you don’t need a law to balance the budge. They should want to spend only what they have.

Cindy Munford on November 18, 2011 at 4:23 PM

Hey, hey! Ho, ho! John Boehner’s gots tah go!

1,3,6,9 we want Boehner to resign!

SouthernGent on November 18, 2011 at 4:25 PM

on joe paterno: sorry for your illness but its no excuse for what you knew & failed to prevent

kelley in virginia on November 18, 2011 at 4:27 PM

The Honorable Kevin Brady
8th Congressional District, Texas

Message: Your vote for the so-called “clean” Balanced Budget Amendment was very disappointing. It only gives political cover for you with no real fiscal discipline. It allows deficit spending with a mere 3/5 majority? Are you kidding? There are plenty of big spending Republicans to join Democrats to reach that. It should be at least two thirds and I personally think deficit spending should only be allowed under a formal declaration of war. And what’s wrong with a spending cap? It is tricks like this that your collective popularity is in the dumper and why the Tea Party was formed. I will be passing the news on to others in the 8th, we expected better, Rep. Brady.

cartooner on November 18, 2011 at 4:29 PM

You can’t have perfection here on Earth. This BBA was close enough.

Instead, the Democrats decided that those of our children who are not aborted will have to pay our obscenely bloated deficits.

pedestrian on November 18, 2011 at 4:49 PM

A clean BBA would never have passed in the senate. But it is popular with the masses. This could have been a win for the GOP politically painting the Dems as obstructionists.

angryed on November 18, 2011 at 4:51 PM

West—-a total disappointment.

mobydutch on November 18, 2011 at 4:52 PM

I too do not like the clean BBA. Then again, a clean BBA will force the government to do one of two things, raise taxes or reduce spending, or a combination. Likely they will try to keep the spending and raise taxes, but taxes on the rich cannot be raised enough to pay for the spending, thus the taxes will have to be increased on the middle and lower tax rate payers, hopefully capturing many of the 45% who pay nothing.

Then the people will likely start calling for a spending cap amendment.

astonerii on November 18, 2011 at 3:56 PM

Good point. I wish the HAers would think through things like this instead of the knee jerk reactions that have become so predictable.

angryed on November 18, 2011 at 4:56 PM

I think it is time for a constitutional convention.
NotCoach on November 18, 2011 at 3:54 PM

Err no! It will just be hijacked by the left then well have a dictatorship on our hands.

jawkneemusic on November 18, 2011 at 4:59 PM

Err no! It will just be hijacked by the left then well have a dictatorship on our hands.

jawkneemusic on November 18, 2011 at 4:59 PM

How do you figure? Do you understand the constitutional mechanism for creating a constitutional convention?

NotCoach on November 18, 2011 at 5:02 PM

Obama Spending $410 Billion To Give Poor Free Internet After U.N. Says It’s A “Basic Human Right”… Weasel Zippers

http://www.judicialwatch.org/blog/2011/nov/poor-get-free-internet-after-u-n-says-it-s-basic-human-right?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

Unreal

Zcat on November 18, 2011 at 5:28 PM

“I’m concerned that this version will lead to a much bigger government fueled by more taxes,” he explained.

Ryan is right.

Yes, he is.

ladyingray on November 18, 2011 at 5:48 PM

Scott H on November 18, 2011 at 4:23 PM

If that is what it takes…

BadMojo on November 18, 2011 at 5:50 PM

I too do not like the clean BBA. Then again, a clean BBA will force the government to do one of two things, raise taxes or reduce spending, or a combination. Likely they will try to keep the spending and raise taxes, but taxes on the rich cannot be raised enough to pay for the spending, thus the taxes will have to be increased on the middle and lower tax rate payers, hopefully capturing many of the 45% who pay nothing.

Then the people will likely start calling for a spending cap amendment.

astonerii on November 18, 2011 at 3:56 PM

But with a 3/5 override to take on debt anyway, that would have been the out every time, and I don’t think your scenario would have come to pass. Otherwise I would be inclined to accept ANY balanced budget amendment–but a BBA with an escape clause doesn’t even rise to the category of weak tea.

TexasDan on November 18, 2011 at 6:39 PM

How was the amendment worded? Did it explicitly say that taxes would be raised by judicial fiat if Congress failed to pass a balanced budget?

Count to 10 on November 18, 2011 at 7:04 PM

But with a 3/5 override to take on debt anyway, that would have been the out every time, and I don’t think your scenario would have come to pass. Otherwise I would be inclined to accept ANY balanced budget amendment–but a BBA with an escape clause doesn’t even rise to the category of weak tea.

TexasDan on November 18, 2011 at 6:39 PM

Did not read the bill. I thought it was supposed to be clean… So it really is a dirty bill, much more dirty than one that required the government to work harder to raise taxes.

astonerii on November 18, 2011 at 8:17 PM

Ok, so now Boehner is going to get the house busy on a real BBA that would require the 2/3 majority for a tax increase, right?

Ok, why are you guys laughing at me?

thirteen28 on November 18, 2011 at 10:50 PM

I am proud of Justin Amash, one of the real tea party conservatives in the House that has not yet been co-opted by the squishy RINOs in charge of the GOP Caucus. He voted NO on this bill. Good for him.

karenhasfreedom on November 19, 2011 at 4:02 AM