By Javier Manjarres
With all of the talk concerning ‘fiscal cliffs’ and ‘debt ceilings’, the first proposed balanced budget amendment to the Constitution coming out of the U.S. Senate is under the sponsorship of Senator Mike Lee (R-UT). No other Senator as of yet has joined with Lee as a co-sponsor, but expect the full Republican caucus in the Senate to back the amendment including his ‘amigo’ from Florida, Senator Marco Rubio.
During the 112th Congress, Senator Lee proposed a similar amendment that garnered 47 votes, not quite enough to pass the Senate, which has not balanced a budget since 2007. But Lee brings up an interesting point, in that considering the economic woes and the out of control spending out of Washington,D.C., that have gripped the nation, more and more Senate Democrats are warming up to the idea of a balanced budget amendment.
Senate Democrats led by Majority Leader Harry Reid have not passed a budget in four years and have effectively blocked dozens of bills that were passed by the House of Representatives whose purpose was to reign in spending and spur economic growth. But few are likely to remember that it was Senator Reid himself who once was strongly in favor of a balanced budget amendment-
“…I believe we should have a constitutional amendment to balance the budget. I am willing to go for that.” (Sen. Harry Reid, Congressional Record, S.1333, 2/12/97)
According to Lee, 23 Senate Democrats support some form of a balanced budget amendment. Considering that 47 Republicans backed Lee’s previous balanced budget amendment, could some of the 23 Democrats who have previously expressed support for a balanced budget amendment break ranks and support Lee’s proposal?
“Washington’s insatiable need to borrow and spend has put off difficult decisions and threatened the prosperity of future generations. It is unconscionable and immoral,” said Senator Lee, a member of the Joint Economic Committee. “We have an obligation to correct course and put the country on a responsible path to fiscal sustainability. Families, businesses, and state and local governments are all expected to live within their means. The federal government should do the same.
“All past efforts of Congress to limit spending have utterly failed. None of the existing restraints – the Budget Act, spending caps, the debt limit, the sequester – have gotten spending under control, and we have $16.4 trillion of debt to prove it. Only a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution will permanently bind Congress and force both parties to live within the nation’s means. Anything less will simply maintain our dysfunctional and unsustainable status quo.-Senator Mike Lee