March 25, 2011

"Senate GOP Demand Balanced Budget Amendment for Raising Debt Ceiling"

Boehner may be cowering heap of heavily tanned fail, but at least McConnell seems to be heading in the right direction of late. Human Events:

The Senate Republicans are preparing to tell President Obama that they want a Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA) to the Constitution passed in Congress in exchange for raising the statuary debt ceiling above $14.2 trillion.

“My hope is that we would force a vote on a Balanced Budget Amendment as a condition to voting on the debt ceiling,” Sen. John Cornyn (R.-Tex.) told HUMAN EVENTS. “By next week, or shortly thereafter, we will have all 47 Republicans unified behind the effort, and then begin to reach out to our Democratic colleagues.”

A BBA would force the federal government to balance the federal spending to incoming revenue each year and cap spending at 18% of the gross domestic product (GDP). For the current Fiscal Year (FY 2011), the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that government spending will be $1.4 trillion more than revenue and account for almost 25% of the GDP.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R.-Ky.) is planning to roll out the details of the new version of the BBA in the next two weeks. McConnell’s plan is to to build public support and pressure on the Democrats to vote for it before the debt ceiling is hit, which is estimated to happen between mid-April and the end of May.

“We will have a genuine rollout so the American people can know what we’re doing and they can call, and e-mail, and fax, and demand their senators and congressmen support it and create a true grassroots effort,” said Cornyn of the leadership strategy.

So far, the Republicans have at least 33 members supporting the new BBA. Cornyn said that he and others are making calls this week to line up the others to support it. He expects to have all 47 Republicans in support by next week, and then will start outreach to the Senate Democrats.

“This is something that should have a bipartisan appeal, but we need to get unified behind it first before reaching out,” said Cornyn.

Why any of the GOPers aren’t yet on board is curious, but so long as McConnell can gather them in, that’s a start.

My sole concern is this: if the GOP can’t get 20 Democrat votes (assuming they get all 47 GOP senators on board), this won’t pass. Which means so long as the amendment is destined to fail anyway, a number of ersatz “fiscally conservative” Dems — many of them who are up for re-election — will be able to vote in favor of the amendment without worrying that their vote will actually help pass it, providing them local political cover, even as they protect the progressive agenda they’ve otherwise shown themselves quite willing to support.

And that could help them come 2012.

Posted by Jeff G. @ 3:16pm
12 comments | Trackback

Comments (12)

  1. I haven’t read the amendment, yet I won’t let that stop me from commenting on it. The amendment will have to include exceptions for war time and the like, and most likely by the time everyone is through tinkering with it, it will have no teeth at all.

    So, I consider it a nice idea that brings the budget to the forefront, and could make a gook springboard for talking out how much money is being spent, but I doubt it will have any real effect on how much money is actually spent by Congress.

  2. Which means so long as the amendment is destined to fail, a number of ersatz “fiscally conservative” Dems — many of them who are up for re-election — will be able to vote in favor of the amendment without worrying that their vote will help pass it. This provides them local political cover, even as they protect the progressive agenda they’ve otherwise shown themselves quite willing to support.

    I wish I could believe McConnell saw this — helping Democrats get re-elected — as a bug rather than a feature.

  3. It includes 2 exemptions, cranky-d. It is a serious amendment. This has been Hatch’s signature attempt to leave his mark for decades.

    I heard Hatch before saying 20% rather than 18%, I think. So maybe they’ve left themselves so wiggle room to compromise.

  4. Which means so long as the amendment is destined to fail, a number of ersatz “fiscally conservative” Dems — many of them who are up for re-election — will be able to vote in favor of the amendment without worrying that their vote will help pass it.

    I’d like to think the individuals up for election will have their votes in total scrutinized, and obvious outliers like that discounted.

    We are talking about Dems though…

  5. ot good news

    Wisconsin union law published despite court order

    MADISON, Wis. — It appears the explosive Wisconsin law stripping nearly all public employee collective bargaining rights could take effect as early as Saturday despite a court order that blocked its publication by the secretary of state.

    That’s because the nonpartisan Legislative Reference Bureau has published the law instead. The action was noted on the Legislature’s website Friday. Publishing a law allows it to take effect.
    link

  6. While a balanced budget amendment is a fine idea in principle, bear in mind that it must be ratified by the states before it takes affect. That could take years if it happens at all. Meanwhile, it gives Congress a fig leaf for continued business as usual. They can point to the BBA and say they’ve done all they can, it’s not their fault the states haven’t ratified it yet. It passes the buck and shifts the responsibility for out-of-control federal spending to the states.

    Congress doesn’t need a BBA to balance the budget, they can do it any time they have the will to do so. Looked at that way, promoting a BBA is a diversion, it effectively shifts the focus away from taking responsible action to actually balance the budget, allowing Congressmen to portray themselves as fiscal hawks by demagoguing the BBA, rather than by actually doing anything about the deficit. It allows Congress to take credit for symbolic action while avoiding taking the strong action that we really need.

    Then consider — what are the BBA proponents saying? In effect ‘we’ll continue out-of-control spending until you amend the Constitution to force us to be fiscally responsible’? Why not just amend the Constitution to require adult leadership in DC? Wouldn’t that cover all the bases?

    Sorry, but if the only way we can rein in these fools is to amend the Constitution we’re doomed. We simply don’t have the time to pass and ratify a Constitutional amendment before the whole shakey fiscal house of cards comes crashing down. Thus, I can only surmise that this is just a ploy and a sham to divert attention and shift blame while giving the can another good kick. If you need further evidence, look at the guys who are pushing the BBA. Fiscal Hawks? Not. Even. Close.

    ****

    No matter how cynical you get, it is impossible to keep up.
    – Lily Tomlin

  7. “Sorry, but if the only way we can rein in these fools is to amend the Constitution we’re doomed.”

    they did this with amnesty in 1986. that border protection never showed up.

  8. If this gives some members of team “D” cover to cynically vote “YEA” on a fiscally conservative measure they believe won’t pass, I say…GOOD. Let them be on the record as having voted for it, and let us make great hay over them reneging on it when rubber meets road further on down the line. A calling to account for prior lip service can be a powerful tool when the public is engage, as I believe it to increasingly be (although, still at a distressingly low level).

    Nail the bastards down to a position. Don’t let them worm out of it. Sieze the narrative, as the proggies might say.

  9. Swen @6,

    I agree with everything right up until- “if the only way we can rein in these fools…”.

    The entirety of the constitution is an exercise in reining in fools, despots, sociopaths and every other power hungry asshole attracted to DC. The unfortunate reality is that they have had 220+ corrosive years to eat away at the protections it was designed to provide. Not sure if a BBA is the answer or not, I suspect they will just play games with the numbers to get around it. But desperate times…

  10. “My sole concern is this: if the GOP can’t get 20 Democrat votes”

    They do have 23 up for election in 2012. If I’m Boehner I pretend to resist and finally give in to Tea-partiers the weak before the debt ceiling extension is required.

    Tell Harry Reid to take it or leave it then remind him of all the catasrophic predictions he made (irt a gov’t default) and ask him how he feels about being responsible for them.

    As Swen mentioned it is not an immediate or complete solution but it’s doable and it put’s the dummy’s on the record.

  11. I’m just not sure how a “solution” that helps keep people in office who vote against the best interest of their own country in every other respect, can possibly work out well in the long run.

  12. McG,

    I don’t think voting for the amendment will be as helpful as voting against it would be harmful for those voting against it. Couple that with a default that results from a failure to extend the debt ceiling would be pretty damaging. No?

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