OMB Watch Urges Congress to Vote No on Balanced Budget Amendment
by Craig Jennings
Jul 29, 2011
The House has just passed (218-210) a plan to increase the debt ceiling. Tommorow, the House is expected to take up two versions of a resolution (H.J. Res. 1 and H.J. Res. 2) that, if approved by both chambers, would be the first step to add a balanced budget amendment to the constitution.
OMB Watch has sent a letter to the House strongly urging all members to vote "no" on this harmful amendment.
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July 29, 2011
OMB Watch strongly opposes the balanced budget amendments being considered by the House of Representatives, specifically House Joint Resolutions (H.J. Res.) 1 and 2. Enacting such amendments would hinder the government's capacity to confront economic downturns and harm vital social safety net and public protections.
Most economists - even conservative ones - believe that the government plays an important role in moderating the ups and downs of the business cycle, but H.J. Res. 1 and 2 undermine its capacity to help America in difficult times. A super-majority requirement in both houses would allow a small faction to exert power over the wishes of the majority of the Legislature and the will of the American people. This is not the way American democracy is supposed to work.
H.J. Res. 1 and H.J. Res. 2 would also require super majorities of both houses of Congress to increase the debt ceiling even though recent events have shown that even a simple majority of either house cannot agree on the proper course of action, and the nation is perilously close to a default or rating downgrade, which will increase interest rates for everyone. Even with H.J. Res. 2, a small minority could hold Congress hostage and significantly increase the likelihood of a future economy-shattering default, putting the full faith and credit of the nation at risk.
Moreover, both balanced budget amendments include a provision making it easier to cut programs such as Social Security and Medicare than close tax loopholes, despite repeated polls showing Americans want a balanced approach to deficit reduction that includes tax revenue and program cuts, but leaves programs for the elderly and the vulnerable alone.
More than 250 public interest groups have signed a letter in opposition to any balanced budget amendment, arguing it would kill our nascent economic recovery. And reports out today show that economic growth this past quarter was much lower than initially expected, in part due to job loss from cuts in government spending. If a balanced budget amendment were passed, job loss would be even deeper, sending the nation into a double-dip recession.
H.J. Res. 1 and H.J. Res. 2 are irresponsible amendments that will over time erode America's quality of life and its ability to be a world leader. We urge you to oppose it.