This year’s budget deficit will be $1.5 TRILLION. Absolute insanity. I remember that the highest deficit under the Bush years was around $400 billion. The Democrats criticized President Bush and the GOP Congress for it, and rightly so.
Then, the American people gave them the reins, and what have they done? Quadrupled that deficit. The increase in spending we have seen in the past two years is mind-boggling, and is a serious threat to this country.
With the recent GOP gains in Congress, the proposal of amending the Constitution to require a balanced federal budget is picking up steam again. Its such a simple and common sense idea. Every family has to live within their means. Almost every state in the union, including Ohio, is required by law to balance the books. Why not the US government?
Our new Senator, Rob Portman, has recently co-signed a proposal to do just that. It would require that total federal outlays not exceed revenues. In times of war or emergency, that could be waived with a 2/3 vote in both houses of Congress. It would also require a 2/3 vote in both houses in order to raise taxes.
Additionally, it would put a cap on spending equal to 20% of GDP. Personally, I think 20% is too high. Historically, since WWII, federal revenues have averaged 19% of GDP, no matter what the tax rate is. However, putting some sort of cap on spending at all is a terrific start. (We are current spending over 24% of GDP, which is completely unsustainable.)
Portman was a budget director under President Bush, and has commented that just 4 short years ago, the budget deficit was only about 1% of GDP. What is the deficit as a percentage of GDP today? 10%. A ten-fold increase.
Portman also recalled that just a few years ago, a plan was in place to return to balanced budget over 5 years. Well, we know what happened to that plan. Nancy, Harry and Barry. That’s what.
Democrats are not alone in the blame, though. Congress has had a spending addiction for a long time, no matter who has been in control. This is no longer a long term problem. It must be tackled now. The concept of only spending what you take in is not one that should be a partisan issue. Even the IMF is warning us about it.
Portman thinks there will be bipartisan support.
“In 2007, when I was director of the Office of Management and Budget, we actually proposed a balanced budget over five years. That’s not that long ago,” Portman said. “Around this country, I think that you will see a lot of Democrats, independents and Republicans joining this effort and understanding that this is only common sense — we must stop spending more than we take in.”
Indeed, there is a separate proposal being promoted by Democrat Senator Mark Udall and GOP Senator Richard Shelby.
Amending the Constitution is no easy task though, (nor should it be). You need a 2/3 majority in both the Senate and the House. Then, 3/4 of the states must ratify it. In the 1990s, we came just one vote short in the Senate.
Though we disagree with Sherrod Brown on quite a lot, I would like to believe he agrees that balancing the federal budget is extremely important, and that he will support the amendment. If not, well, 2012 isn’t far off, is it?