I have been opposed to the Balanced Budget Amendment proposed in the Republican Cut Cap and Balance Bill for a number of reasons. The two most important ones are the probability of unintended consequences and the ongoing lawlessness of the federal government.
1. Unintended Consequences: We do not have a very good track record with attempts to improve on the Constitution left us by the Founders. The seventeen Amendments added to the Constitution since the Bill of Rights was ratified in 1791 have consistently been used by progressive legislatures and courts to circumvent the intent of the Framers and assault the liberties of the people. The most onerous of these unintended consequences have been found in the Fourteenth Amendment.
Congress and the courts are peopled with lawyers whose stock in trade is their ability to find loopholes in legal documents. Even as I write this a number of Congressional Democrats are suggesting to the President that he “invoke” the Fourteenth Amendment and raise the debt ceiling without the approval of Congress. Even such concise language as that found in the First and Second Amendments have been twisted by progressives to infringe on the very liberties they were intended to protect.
Every unnecessary word in an amendment becomes fodder for progressives in their efforts to twist the Constitution to fit their socialist agenda. Based on our two hundred and twenty year history of Amendments, it is easy to predict that future Presidents and Congresses would claim the power of the purse for the Executive Branch rather than the people’s assembly where it has been throughout our history. They will also claim that the federal government is “entitled” and even “guaranteed” 18% of the money earned by citizens from their intellectual and physical labors for its use for any purpose it desires. These are only two of several possible unintended Consequences of the Proposed Amendment.
2. Wanton Lawlessness: The Constitution proclaims itself to be the “Supreme Law of the Land” governing the operations of the federal government. Every official in the federal, state, and local governments have taken an oath to preserve and defend it; many have done so multiple times as they move from office to office. However, until the rise of the patriot movements in the past few years and the constitution conservatives among its members, government officials have routinely ignored the constraints imposed by the Constitution whenever they were unable to find any previously undetected meanings to justify their progressive agenda. Constitutional lawlessness has been steadily growing for generations and has reached epidemic proportions in our own time. Our first and most important job in restoring the liberties we have lost is to return the federal government to its lawful place under the Constitution.
We now find ourselves on the abyss of extinction as a nation of peace, liberty, freedom and prosperity. Based on recent developments in the progressive’s attempts to bankrupt the treasury and impose a servitude of debt on future generations, a well-crafted Balanced Budget Amendment may be the only hope for saving “America as we know it.” It is likely that in the near term such an amendment would be adhered to until the ardor for constitutional government that is now strong among our citizens, cooled and lost its attraction.
However, any Balanced Budget Amendment passed and sent to the states, must be concise with no “wiggle-room” for politicians and lawyers to exploit. Section one of the proposed amendment seems to meet that criteria.
“Total outlays for any fiscal year shall not exceed total receipts for that fiscal year, unless two-thirds of the duly chosen and sworn Members of each House of Congress shall provide by law for a specific excess of outlays over receipts by a roll call vote.”
Everything else in the proposed amendment should be by statutory law — if necessary — under Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. Anything more is only inviting unintended consequences that will do more harm than good.
The value of such an Amendment will only be realized in the present crisis if it is used to force Congress and the President to curtail their unsustainable appetite for spending. Conservatives should hold fast to the demand that no increase in the government’s spending limit will be approved until a satisfactory Balanced Budget Amendment has been passed and submitted to the States for ratification. If the progressive Democrats maintain their “no compromise” position, they will be forced to downsize the federal government substantially when they run out of money to spend. That will cause major hardships for many, however, we are in a position much like the passengers on United Flight 93 over the hills of Pennsylvania, September 11, 2001. If we do nothing, we are going down as a nation. If we take a stand we may go down anyway, but if we succeed we can save the future for ourselves and our children and grandchildren.
Call or e-mail your Congressman today and urge them to hold out for a Balanced Budget Amendment as an uncompromising condition for raising the debt ceiling.