Against the backdrop of the ongoing drama of deficit reduction negotiations, the House of Representatives next week will vote on a balanced budget amendment that would require supermajorities in both chambers to run a deficit, raise the debt ceiling, raise taxes or spend more than 18 percent of GDP.
In a column today in The USA Today, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) explain why such an amendment is necessary to ensure the country doesn’t run up against a debt ceiling deadline time and time again:
While the federal government has consistently collected revenue of about 18% of U.S. economic output, federal spending has consistently been even higher. The debt resulting from these budget deficits builds up until the debt limit is reached. And rather than fight the spending lobby, politicians have taken the easy route of raising the limit without cutting spending. …
Near-term spending cuts are necessary to alter the course, but they will not be enough without long-term changes. Likewise, promises of cuts 10 years from now mean little without a way to enforce them. The only way to truly guarantee delivery from future politicians is if the Constitution demands it. That’s why the House will vote next Wednesday on a balanced budget amendment that would require supermajorities in both chambers to run a deficit, raise the debt ceiling, raise taxes and spend more than 18% of GDP.
With the balanced budget movement gaining momentum, members of the spending lobby want to argue that Congress and the president already have the ability to control spending. Ability and discipline are not the same. If Washington actually had the discipline to live within its means over the long term, every American citizen would not owe $46,000 toward the national debt.
The Republican Study Committee also released a video that depicts just how precarious and politicized the debt and deficit issue will continue to be without a balanced budget amendment:
Even as I’ve begun to feel cynical about the debt limit negotiations, I find myself feeling encouraged by this — not because a balanced budget amendment is likely to be adopted any time soon (the hurdles for constitutional change are quite high, of course), but because House Republicans aren’t giving up. They’re introducing and reintroducing ideas that could actually put us on a path to real fiscal reform. Even more importantly, the ideas they’ve introduced suggest they are listening to the American people, who say both that they favor a balanced budget amendment and that they oppose a debt ceiling increase. Republicans continue to run up against the difficulty of controlling just one branch of government, but their efforts haven’t gone unnoticed — and it will surely pay to have the ideas in place should they take back the Senate or White House or both in 2012.