The Balanced Budget Amendment–An Idea Whose Time Has Gone

It’s not exactly an occult secret–government everywhere and at all times is populated largely by profligate ne’er-do-wells who seemingly believe that their success is measured by the number of obligations they have incurred.  Our current spendthrifts in Washington, led by Barack Hussein Obama and his socialist glee club, have already spent your last dime and now they want you to co-sign on a loan–euphemistically called ‘raising the debt ceiling’–so they can squander even more cash on endless entitlement programs, on ‘green’ initiatives apparently designed to return us to those halcyon days of the horse-drawn carriage, and on grants for studies devised to vastly increase the sum of totally meaningless human knowledge.  Some examples of the latter:

  • The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a division of the federal government’s National Institutes of Health (NIH), has spent $3,634,807 over the past decade funding research that involves getting monkeys to smoke and drink drugs such as PCP, methamphetamine (METH), heroin, and cocaine and then studying their behavior, including during different phases of the female monkeys’ menstrual cycles. (Weasel Zippers)
  • A $315,000 NSF study suggests playing FarmVille on Facebook helps adults develop and maintain relationships.
  • Armed with a $1 million grant from the NSF, researchers at Indian University-Bloomington and New York University analyzed baby names to determine trends in parents’ naming decisions. Their conclusion: popular names are popular with parents.
  • The National Science Foundation provided $50,000 for online music videos about science, including “Money 4 Drugz” and “Biogas is a Gas, Gas, Gas.”
  • Why do the same teams always dominate March Madness? A team of engineers and social scientists at Duke University teamed up to develop a “Constructal Theory on Social Dynamics.” They have been awarded a $79,998 grant from the National Science Foundation.  The research helped them conclude that being a top-notch college basketball program helps to attract blue-chip recruits. “The best players will tend to choose winning programs, and these programs send higher percentages of athletes to the NBA, which in turn attracts the best players.”  **For more, see Some Government Waste You Probably Never Heard Of at FleeceMe’s blog.

Congressional Republicans, well aware that neither they nor their immoderate colleagues will ever voluntarily enlist in a regimen of thrift, are badgering the primary wastrels, the Democrats, to agree to an up or down vote on the resurrected Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA), the Philosopher’s Stone of the fiscally prudent politician, should such a creature actually exist:

In a letter to Senate Democrats that warns that the nation’s “fiscal crisis” could undermine the military and make the United States look weak to the world, eight Senate GOP conservative leaders today are demanding hearings on the amendment, dubbed S.J. 10.

“Washington has a spending problem and this problem is getting worse. The budget deficit is now almost fifteen times the size it was when the Senate came within one vote of passing a balanced budget amendment in 1997. A balanced budget amendment is a measure that is long overdue and whose time has come,” wrote the eight, led by Texan Sen. John Cornyn, also chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

For conservatives, the BBA is a superficially enticing, yet absolutely unsound concept, as Constitutional savant Publius-Huldah makes abundantly clear in the following analysis:

Why The Balanced Budget Amendment Is The Worst Idea Ever

Senator Jim De Mint (who should know better) is supporting The Balanced Budget Amendment. Proponents of this “fix” trumpet these supposed benefits: That the amendment would:

  • Require Congress to balance the federal budget each year
  • Prevent Congress from spending more than 20 percent of GDP
  • Require a 2/3 super-majority vote to raise taxes

But the actual result of the proposed amendment would be to finish off (with little hope of resuscitation) our existing Constitution of enumerated powers; and create a new system where Congress’ unconstitutional legislation & spending is legitimized – as long as it is no more than 20% of the GDP.

And since Congress, the executive branch and the judicial branch already ignore the limitations the existing Constitution places on their powers (they have no lawful authority outside of their enumerated powers); it would be no time at all before they ignore the 20% limit on spending. This “emergency” or that “emergency” would arise; and soon the 20% limit would be ignored as well.

Our Constitution Created a Limited Federal Government with Enumerated Powers.

With The Constitution, WE THE PEOPLE ordained and established a Federation of States which united for the LIMITED PURPOSES enumerated in the Constitution: national defense, international commerce & relations; and domestically, the establishment of an uniform commercial system: Weights & measures, patents & copyrights, a monetary system based on gold & silver, bankruptcy laws, and mail delivery. That’s about it! Read Art. I, Sec. 8, clauses 1-16, U.S. Constitution, and you will see for yourself how few are the powers delegated to Congress.

The Federalist Papers confirm that ours is a Constitution of enumerated powers only. In Federalist No. 45 (9th para), James Madison, Father of the Constitution, says:

The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people…” [emphasis mine]

Do you see? The objects on which Congress is authorized by the Constitution to make laws and spend money are few and enumerated.

Congress Violates the Existing Constitution by Legislating & Spending on Unconstitutional Objects.

The Constitution does not permit Congress to create and appropriate funds for the Departments of Agriculture, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Labor, Transportation; etc.

The Constitution does not permit Congress to appropriate funds for Independent Agencies and Government Corporations such as AMTRAK, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, African Development Foundation, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Environmental Protection Agency, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, Railroad Retirement Board, Small Business Administration, Social Security Administration, Tennessee Valley Administration, etc.

The Constitution does not permit Congress to appropriate funds for the many Boards, Commissions, and Committees and various Quasi-Official Agencies.

The Constitution does not permit Congress to appropriate funds for pork barrel spending or for private concerns.

The Constitution does not permit Congress to appropriate funds for massive “entitlement” programs such as social security, Medicare and Medicaid.

The Constitution does not permit Congress to appropriate funds to bail out private businesses.

All these Departments, Agencies, Government corporations, Boards, Commissions, Committees, Bureaus, “entitlement programs”, Pork, and bailouts are unconstitutional as outside Congress’ Enumerated Powers.

It is this lawless & unconstitutional spending which gave us a national debt of over $14 Trillion – a debt which increases at the rate of over $4 Billion a day! It is also this lawless & unconstitutional spending which has resulted in the federal government’s increasing interference in the most intimate aspects of our lives. With obamacare, it now claims the power to decide whether we receive, or are denied, medical care: Who lives and who dies.

We can not starve The Beast if we give it a Constitutional Claim to 20% of GNP!

 Think! Oh, you proponents of this truly terrible idea! According to this chart, the GNP for 2009 was $14.119 Trillion. (And was it not the 16th Amendment [another “fix”] which made it possible for The Beast to grow as big as it has?)

 Giving The Beast a constitutional claim to “only” 20% of the GNP will not reign it in. We need to man up and face the real problem: Congress legislates and spends money on objects for which it has no constitutional authority.

… Read the rest at Publius-Huldah’s Blog

Well, I’m convinced.  The Balanced Budget Amendment is a chimera.  I no longer support it, and neither should you.

About Bob Mack

Retired since 2003. Military Service: U.S. Army, 36th Artillery Group, Babenhausen, Germany 1966-67; 1st Signal Brigade, Republic of Vietnam, 1967-68 Attended University of Miami, 1969-73
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12 Responses to The Balanced Budget Amendment–An Idea Whose Time Has Gone

  1. Otis P. Driftwood says:

    Every state, as far as I know, has a balanced budget. I believe it is in the various states’ Constitutions. It is about time the feds did the same.

  2. Bob Mack says:

    But, as Publius indicates, they’ll just ignore its provisions, as they ignore the debt ceiling, as they ignore the 2nd, 4th and 10th Amendments (they try and ignore the 1st as well, when it’s convenient for them), as they ignore court orders, and as they ignore the expressed will of the people. The ONLY thing they won’t ignore is unemployment–their own.

  3. Publius-Hulsah has been on my blogroll for some time. She is one smart lady. It’s to bad she doesn’t sit on the Supreme Court.

  4. John Carey says:

    Great post Bob. I believe the balance budget amendment is nothing more than a political gimmick. If we truly want to limit the size of government and corral them back into their constitutional limitations then we need to diminish their ability to just print money out of thin air and we do this be getting us back on the gold standard.

  5. martin says:

    Wow. I think you’ve convinced me as well. It works in some state governments, but then, states can’t print money and have to answer to the people. The federal government apparently no longer does.

  6. Bob Mack says:

    Enumerated powers–a concept quite alien to Leviathan.

  7. Bunkerville says:

    Thanks for an excellent post and food for thought. The Feds will do what they wish to do regardless ot law or reason.

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