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August 29, 2011

Shocking Evidence: Balanced Budget Amendment Is a Ruse

Quote of the Day: “My concern is that [the Balanced Budget Amendment] might limit our ability to rely on the plain text of the 1787 Constitution as presently amended.” — Howard Phillips, former Constitution Party nominee for President

The Balanced Budget Amendment being floated by Republicans is an awful idea. I wrote a letter to my Representative and Senators using DownsizeDC.org’s “Cap the Debt” campaign to explain why. The hardwired letter begins,

“Do NOT raise the debt ceiling ever again.”

Feel free to use what I went on to write…

Several leading Republicans would have us believe that a Balanced Budget Amendment is a good idea because 49 states have such a requirement.

As Dr. Phil might say, “How’s that working out?”

Unsurprisingly, many state governments have figured out how to game the system.

Coincidentally, Congress is great at playing con games. 

Here’s the ruse. See if it sounds familiar…

State officials claim balanced budgets. However, they leave employee pensions and healthcare obligations off their books.

Truth in Accounting reports that the worst offenders of off-the-books accounting are Connecticut, New Jersey, Illinois, Hawaii, and Kentucky. Only four states are running a surplus. http://www.truthinaccounting.org/state-of-states/  

Sheila Weinberg of Truth in Accounting compares it to thinking, “your $5,000 Visa bill is not your debt, because your current required payment is only $37.”

Could we expect similar shenanigans once the Balanced Budget Amendment becomes part of the U.S. Constitution?

This brings up two issues…

1) How soon before Congress “rescues” these states? How many more budget-busting, irresponsibility-rewarding bailouts are we going to have?

2) If so many states are lying in their accounting, how can we have any confidence that the hard task of ratifying a Constitutional amendment is going to result in enforced, fiscal sanity? Under the Balanced Budget Amendment, what things will Congress and the President pretend are off the books?

The truth is that the current GOP Balanced Budget Amendment proposal will SWELL the Federal State to new levels of bloat.

* It ignores the clear limitations already imposed by the Constitution
* It substitutes those limitations for the permanent enshrinement of a government sized at a whopping 18% of GDP
* It says nothing about how GDP is to be calculated
* It says nothing about what is to be counted in the official budget

There’s a much better tool for enforcing budgetary sanity: The debt ceiling. It must never be raised again. That means… 

You must MAKE CUTS NOW — lots of them.

Ms. Weinberg also suggests that the various states need “Full Accrual Calculations and Techniques,” or simply, FACT-based budgeting. I would suggest the federal government needs such a thing every bit as much — and far more than it needs a silly Balanced Budget Amendment. 

The fight for a Balanced Budget Amendment is political Onanism. Do Republicans want those of us who are fiscally conscious to waste our energy, while they continue to borrow and spend, albeit at a lower level than their Democrat counterparts? 

I want you to stop with the stalling tactics and ear-tickling games. I’ve already told you Tax Increases won’t work. Well, the Balanced Budget Amendment won’t work either. Instead, cut actual spending to 2004 levels, and do so immediately.

Do this so that you’ll never need to raise the debt ceiling, ever again.    

END OF LETTER

How many of your friends, family, and colleagues know that, despite having a Balanced Budget Amendment in 49 states, only four have balanced budgets? Share this message with them, and encourage them to join you in sending a message to Congress. 

And remember to click “Like” on the DownsizeDC.org Facebook page, “Cap the Debt:” http://www.facebook.com/CapTheDebt

Jim Babka
President
DownsizeDC.org, Inc.

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