Poll: Majority support a balanced budget amendment

A full 65 percent of the public supports an amendment to the Constitution to require Congress to pass a balanced budget every year, The Daily Caller reports today. Just 27 percent oppose such an amendment, with 8 percent undecided.

[Eighty-one] percent of Republicans and 68 percent of independents support the amendment. Even a plurality of Democrats, the party that typically resists spending cuts, back the amendment by a 45 percent to 44 percent margin.

“Americans are concerned about our nation’s deepening deficit and as a result, an overwhelming number support a balanced budget amendment,” said Alia Faraj-Johnson, Partner and Executive Vice President of Ron Sachs Communications, the organization that commissioned the poll.

Voters also said they would bring their political clout to bear to elect a candidate who supports a balanced budget amendment (BBA):

A large plurality – 46 percent to 21 percent — also say they would be “more likely” to vote for a presidential candidate who backs the amendment.

Such broad support would ultimately be necessary for a balanced budget amendment to meet success. The threshold to pass a constitutional amendment is high. Two-thirds of both houses of Congress must pass it, then three-quarters of states must ratify it to make it law.

Proposals for an amendment are already on the table. In the Senate, for example, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) has introduced a BBA and, in the House, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) has also introduced an amendment.

Some senators have even set the price of a debt limit increase at a BBA. Lee has pledged to oppose any increase to the debt limit unless both houses pass a balanced budget amendment — and Republican Senators Rand Paul (Ky.), Jim DeMint (S.C.), Jim Risch (Idaho), Marco Rubio (Fla.), Jim Inhofe (Okla.) and Richard Shelby (Ala.) have all promised the same.

But not all conservatives are on board for a BBA. The high hurdles to pass an amendment lead some to favor statutory spending caps instead. And House Republicans have tended to emphasize immediate and tangible spending caps rather than any kind of procedural reform in their debt limit negotiations. Why not cuts, caps and a balanced budget amendment? At a time when the national debt stands at more than $14 trillion and deficits totaled $2.75 trillion for fiscal years 2009 and 2010, no tool to reduce spending and encourage fiscal responsibility should remain in the shed.

Update: Turns out, I’m not the only one to favor a multi-pronged approach. The Republican Study Committee has also proposed the “Cut, Cap and Balance” idea. Red State’s Erick Erickson describes it as “a serious, robust plan to truly reform the way Washington budgets and spends taxpayer dollars.” I couldn’t agree more.

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