Ol' Derek had this blogger at "Brain-Dead." This past week, Senators John Cornpone (R-TX) and Orrin Boobyhatch (R-UT) stepped up to the microphones to beat the drum for the Balanced Budget Amendment to the United States Constitution. This has become the most recent Dumbo play in the current high-stakes game of break the bank in DC. The debt limit is to be held hostage to the Dumbo demand for a balanced budget requirement upon the federal government. Most recently, one of the few (3 states: Alabama, Minnesota, and North Carolina) of the 50 with stringent enforcement provisions for a balanced state budget was the Land O'Loons (home of Bachmann Moron Overdrive). The Minnesota state government shut down and it was only the threat of a mid-summer beer drought because of suspended Minnesota liquor laws that brought an end to the stalemate. If this is (fair & balanced) summer madness, so be it.
[x The Atlantic]
The Brain-Dead, Bone-Headed Balanced Budget Amendment
By Derek Thompson
Tag Cloud of the following article
A balanced budget amendment, like the one recent endorsed by the entire Republican Senate Caucus, sounds like the perfect antidote to our deficit crisis. It's not. Bruce Bartlett destroys the idea here.
The way I see it, the goal of fiscal solvency is to grow the economy faster than we borrow. We can do that with small deficits, and we should. Indeed, one reason why so many economists supported the Bush tax cuts in 2001 was that it wasn't advisable for the U.S. to run consistent surpluses (as we were doing in the late 1990s) by collecting more taxes than we need to pay for Medicare, Defense and the rest of the government. Small doses of deficit, like small doses of Aspirin, can be good for us. It's the overdoses that get us into trouble.
Balanced budget amendments are silly distractions. The latest Balanced Budget Amendment, supported by every Senate Republican this week, would cap total spending at 18 percent of GDP, even in recessions, and require a two-thirds majority to pass any tax increases. This plan is worse than silly. It is, as Ezra Klein rightly notes, dangerous and delusional.
Not a single year of the Bush administration would qualify as constitutional under this amendment [all deficits]. Nor would a single year of the Reagan administration [all deficits, and he technically raised taxes in 1986]. The Clinton administration would've had exactly two years in which it wasn't in violation [but he raised taxes in 1993, too].
Read that again: Every single Senate Republican has endorsed a constitutional amendment that would've made Ronald Reagan's fiscal policy unconstitutional. That's how far to the right the modern GOP has swung.
Four months ago, Senators Tom Coburn [R-OK] and Mike Crapo [R-ID] approved the deficit commission's plan to delay deficit reduction for a year (to give the job market time to recovery) and phase in gradual tax increases and spending cuts over the next 10, 20... 50 years. Now they've apparently signed onto an amendment that makes tax increases more or less impossible and would require the government to shrink by 33 percent in five years. Frustrating.
To be fair, the best that can be said of the Senate Democrats in the budget debate is that thirty of them signed a letter asking the president to give them the green light to pass a law on the budget and released it to the press as though it were some kind of heroic gesture. This was a bit like an accountant asking for permission to do a great job on your taxes and demanding a bonus for his thoughtful outreach. You don't get brownie points for asking somebody to give you permission to do your job. Ω
[Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he oversees business coverage for the website. Thompson graduated from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University with a triple major in journalism, political science, and legal studies, but he doesn't plan on doing anything with that last bit. He has also written for Slate, BusinessWeek, and The Daily Beast.]
Copyright © 2011 The Atlantic Monthly Group
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Sapper's (Fair & Balanced) Rants & Raves by Neil Sapper is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Based on a work at sapper.blogspot.com. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available here.
Copyright © 2011 Sapper's (Fair & Balanced) Rants & Raves