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November 10, 2011

A Balanced Budget Amendment With No Super-Majority Requirement For Tax Hikes?

Are Republicans really this stupid? Of course they are, they're Republicans after all.

The House GOP “overwhelmingly” supports holding a vote on a “clean” version of the balanced budget amendment as opposed to a version that makes it harder to increase taxes, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), the author of both versions of the legislation, said Wednesday.

...

The key difference between the two measures is that the clean version only requires a majority vote to raise taxes. The other version, which is supported by Grover Norquist and his group Americans for Tax Reform, would require a two-thirds majority vote in both chambers to raise taxes. Fewer Democrats support the latter version, since the two-thirds vote would set up a high hurdle for raising taxes to reduce the deficit. Goodlatte said that the GOP members made their views clear in a Friday caucus meeting. He said those supporting the clean version believe it is the only one with a chance of winning approval.

I hate when conservatives adopt a "don't just stand there, do something!" approach. No Balanced Budget Amendment is better than a lousy one which will almost certainly lead to higher taxes. But the BBA is popular with the base so...of the cliff we go!

Personally, I don't favor a BBA of any kind.

First of all, balancing the budget for the sake of balancing the budget isn't a priority for me. The number one thing we have to get a handle on in this country is spending. I'd much rather have a smaller more reasonable deficit on a budget that is at a significantly lower percentage of GDP than a balanced budget at a higher level of spending like Simpson-Bowles would have by locking in discretionary spending at 2010 post-"stimulus levels". (Ideally of course we'd have a balance budget at the lower levels)

A BBA is a magical thinking solution to a real and growing problem. Just saying "you must balance the budget"doesn't mean that it will simply happen. Look at the enforcement language in the clean BBA that passed the House in 1995 and came close to winning passage in the Senate, it's said to be the model for this year's attempt.

`SECTION 6. The Congress shall enforce and implement this article by appropriate legislation, which may rely on estimates of outlays and receipts.

That likely means some combination of CBO and OMB estimates. Do you really think there aren't enough clever minds on the Hill or at OMB to game that system? One need look no further than the ridiculous "savings" they came up with for ObamaCare to see how that works. And what happens when they fudge the numbers up? Is someone going to sue? Who would have standing to sue? And even if you could find someone who did have standing, do people really want to get the federal courts involved in the budget process? The damage that would do not only to the fiscal health of the country but also the very notion of representative democracy is almost unimaginable.

The only way we are ever going to get our fiscal house in order and grow the economy is to shrink the size and scope of the federal government. A BBA doesn't do that and in fact could lead to the exact opposite. The real solution is to convince the American people that they will be better off in the long run if they expect less from the federal government. Anything short of restoring the proper relationship between the people and the federal government is either going to be a gimmick or at best a Band-Aid.

(Originally posted at my own little blog)


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posted by DrewM. at 03:07 PM

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