Troubling Provisions in Balanced Budget Amendment

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Republican lawmakers this week are rallying behind a version of the balanced budget amendment that would enshrine a super-majority requirement for tax increases, set an arbitrary limit on spending, and hinder the government’s ability to respond to wars, recessions and other national crises.

The Concord Coalition said in a press release this morning that these provisions moved away from the idea of a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution as a bold statement of principle: that one generation of Americans should not bind future generations with crushing debt.

“The whole point of a balanced budget amendment is to ensure that future generations are free to make their own fiscal decisions,” said Robert L. Bixby, Concord’s executive director. “It is inconsistent with that freedom to forever mandate a particular level of spending or to permanently favor spending cuts over revenue increases as the manner of managing these decisions.”

The proposed amendment would limit federal spending to 18 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). There would be exceptions for wars but not for recessions, natural disasters or other national emergencies.

Many elected officials who are pushing for the proposal have recently voted in favor of trillions of dollars in additional deficit spending. “Any proposal for a balanced budget amendment, to be taken seriously, should be accompanied by a proposed balanced budget,” Bixby said.

External links:
Congressional Budget Office: The Macroeconomic and Budgetary Effects of an Illustrative Policy for Reducing the Federal Budget Deficit
Text of Balanced Budget Amendment (H.J. Res. 1)

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