There's a lot of talk about horse trading and such between the White House and Congress over raising the debt limit. Most of it centers around fiscal conservatives wanting to trade raising the limit for a balanced budget amendment. I believe this is wrong. Let me tell you why.
The push for a bba (I hate all that typing) is mostly drawn from watching various states function under a similar amendment. Problem is, states are not the federal government. If a state gets into trouble, it can always appeal to the fed for help -- in the guise of bail outs or other fed funding.
The federal government has no one to turn to for such help. And having this amendment in place is dangerous. Understand, the bba will force the federal government to restrict spending to match what it brings in from taxes. So, let's look at a situation:
The Pacific tectonic plate is roughly diamond shaped. There have been major earthquakes at three of the four corners of this plate to date. The fourth corner is off the coast of Washington State. Suppose there is a major quake at that point, a 7.0 oto 9.0 quake. Suppose that quake sets off a series of sympathetic quakes on the fault lines that travel down the west coast of the U.S., including one off the coast of California that has never ruptured and therefore may have enormous energy to release.
We get massive tidal waves, destruction on a cataclysmic scale, millions dead, trillions in property damage. The masses turn their desperate eyes to Washington to hear: "Well this is a horrible tragedy, but golly, there's no money for clean up or disaster relief in the budget. Maybe next year we can do something, but jeepers, you're on your own right now."
Ridiculous, you say?
Remember, expenditures are limited to income derived from taxes. There may be a disaster relief fund, but it won't be big enough to handle something on this scale. And like any normal group, the politicians will spend every penny they get their hands on. Nothing will be banked for a rainy day, so to speak.
But they'll make exceptions for a crisis, you say?
Well, define a crisis.
Let's look back a year, shall we? Remember? What was the big crisis a year ago? Universal Health Care! Remember? The President, the Speaker of the House, the Leader of the Senate, the water carrying media all told us that universal health care was a crisis. The most serious crisis this country has ever faced. They were willing to eviscerate the Constitution to pass the Health Care Reform bill. 'Cause it was a crisis. Did it feel like a crisis to you? Yeah, me neither. But that didn't stop the Dems from ramming the disaster of a bill through. 'Cause it was a crisis, they said.
The party in power defines a crisis.
Yeah, but they'll have checks and balances to prevent something that petty or political, you say?
Okay. Let's say they put teeth in the bill, some sort of super majority vote for an override or something. There's always a couple of wackos in Congress that won't vote for anything. I'm looking at you Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich, etc. So now we're back to square one -- no money for the disaster.
The other problem here is that Republicans are feeling their oats because they control the House right now. And they are assuming they'll take the Senate and possibly the White House in two years. And they're licking their chops at using this amendment to gut liberal/socialist programs they don't like.
Okay, to the victor goes the spoils. But everything is a pendulum. Eventually, the Dems will get back in power. Then it's payback time. And don't think they won't miss a chance to erase conservative programs to get their pet projects back online. If you think politics is a game of gotcha now, it'll be on steroids with a balanced budget amendment at their disposal.
The federal government needs to behave with restraint and common sense. But it also has to have the freedom to run a deficit when the needs of the country demand it. The solution is to vote in responsible legislators and ride them hard. Remind them that they are our employees, not our kings or our superiors. If they act up, vote their asses out. Eventually they'll get the message. But until then this budget amendment is not the way to go.
And since I suspended Rule 5 Sunday out of respect for the Easter holiday. I present Rule 5 Monday featuring the one of my favorite obsessions -- Rose McGowan
*click on the thumbnails for a full-sized image*
Rule 5 Sunday suggested by this.