STEVEN SEIGAL: We need to live within our means, plain and simple, and we should demand the same of our politicians as they spend the public’s money.
Chuck Wright wrote:
As long as it’s legal for the government to live beyond our means, politicians of both parties will buy votes now and worry about paying for it decades later. Nothing short of a Constitutional amendment will stop the madness.
I don’t like any of the proposed balanced budget amendments. They’re too complex, gimmicky, or tie Congress’s hands too tightly. Here’s my proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution:
“A three fourths majority vote of both Houses of Congress shall be required for any Bill that increases the debt of the United States of America.”
My proposal is short (we shouldn’t clutter up the Constitution with lengthy amendments), simple (everyone can understand it), it fits in with the rest of the Constitution, and it doesn’t bind Congresses hands too tightly.
FYI today a simple majority vote is required to increase the debt, but to make a vote filibusterer proof, effectively a 60 percent vote is required. My proposal raises the bar to 75 percent.
I’d really like to hear what people think of my proposed amendment.
To which I responded:
As much as I like the sentiment, I don’t like the execution, Chuck. Here are my reasons why:
(1) Debt is not defined. Thus future Congresses will spend money that is defined to be “off book”.
(2) 3/4 is likely too low. Think of Colorado’s notorious “safety clause”. Only 52 of 156 bills passed this year out of the Colorado General Assembly don’t have the clause ( http://www.state.co.us/gov_dir/leg_dir/olls/sl201… ). Thus, if it comes to spending money, “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” will trump a 3/4 vote.
(3) There is no check and balance and/or no enforcement mechanism. If Congress … like Colorado’s general assembly … decides that, say, a “Certificate of Participation” is not debt … well … who is going to argue with Congress? Or they could issue non-binding “moral obligation” bonds (wink, wink, nod, nod) that they determine is not debt. ( http://www.anchorrising.com/barnacles/011041.html )
You missed a great lecture by Tom Woods on Friday night at CU Boulder. He answered a question I posed to him about the lack of explicit states rights enforcement mechanism in our constitution. The 9th and 10th amendments have no enforcement mechanism, thus they are ignored.
Unless there is a separate body (answerable to whom?) whose sole function it is to judge whether a piece of legislation raises the debt and if so can shut down the legislation, there will be no enforcement mechanism in your Amendment.
Colorado’s constitution has multiple clauses that prevent Colorado from taking on debt ( http://www.michie.com/colorado/lpext.dll?f=templa… ) . A fat lot of good it does Colorado.
Chuck, come up with a check-and-balance enforcement mechanism that will work. A 3/4 vote, in my estimation, won’t.