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Posts Tagged ‘balanced budget amendment’
January 9th, 2013 at 1:50 pm
Amend Budget Act, Not Constitution to Cut Spending?

Here at CFIF we’ve promoted the idea of a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would require Congress to pass balanced budgets every year with certain 60 percent supermajority thresholds for raising taxes or the debt ceiling.

The idea comes with a stellar pedigree since conservative icons like Ronald Reagan, Jack Kemp, and the Contract with America all supported various Balanced Budget Amendments.

Alas, the BBA has yet to become law, and with the current lineup of liberals running the U.S. Senate and White House, it will be awhile before such an idea can be seriously discussed in Washington.

That said, Byron York says that Republicans might have an opening in the coming fight over raising the debt ceiling to get closer to a balanced budget; albeit by amending a statute, not the Constitution.

On its face, the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 sets out a clear deadline for passing a budget by April 15 every year.  The problem, however, is that there is no enforcement mechanism to punish Congress if it fails to do so.  With Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Democrats failing to pass a budget for the last 1,351 days as of today, the budget law’s impotency is on full display.

York reports:

“The law doesn’t have teeth,” says a Senate aide involved in the fight.  “Sen. Sessions and others have proposed process reforms to give the budget law teeth (one reform would make it harder to pass spending bills without a budget), but the debt ceiling is the strongest leverage we have on this. This is the opportunity.”

In other words, it is precisely because the budget law has no enforcement provision that Republicans believe they need some other form of leverage, in this case the debt ceiling deadline, to force Reid and his fellow Democrats to move.  In addition, whatever happens in the debt ceiling standoff, it seems clear that the original budget law should be amended to include some sort of enforcement method.

This strategy strikes me as a great way to get real value in return for raising the nation’s debt ceiling.  Imagine how much different Obama’s first term would have been if instead of ignoring the House Republicans’ Paul Ryan-inspired budgets, the President and Senate Democrats had to negotiate its terms up against a hard deadline.  Liberals would have been forced to debate conservatives on specifics instead of substituting scare tactics for policy.

So far, Republicans have said they want entitlement reform in exchange for upping the ceiling, and for good reason since spending on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid alone account for about 44 percent of the federal budget (other entitlements push the total to 62 percent).  Moreover, since entitlement spending is not discretionary, meaning it isn’t determined in the normal appropriations process but by eligibility formulas, reining in federal spending will require statutory changes that can only be gotten when the stakes are very high.

But if York is right, then Republican strategists would be wise to include changes to the Congressional Budget Act along with spending reforms to entitlements.  Winning both would improve the nation’s long-term fiscal outlook by helping conservatives change the way Washington does business.

November 15th, 2011 at 6:32 pm
Perry Comes Alive
Posted by Troy Senik Print

Rick Perry got some (admittedly earned) grief last week after a cringe-worthy moment at the CNBC Republican Presidential Debate in Michigan, when he couldn’t recall the third of three cabinet departments he wants to abolish (for the record, they were the Department of Education, the Department of Commerce, and — the one he blanked on — the Department of Energy).

The media fixation on the gaffe overshadowed a bigger point: Rick Perry is proposing some of the most dramatic reforms to the federal government of any presidential candidate in decades. At a speech in Iowa earlier today, the Texas governor laid out an agenda that makes clear that the cabinet proposals were far from an aberration. Check out this list of proposals from the remarks:

  • Term-limiting federal judges
  • Converting Congress into a part-time legislature, with half the salary and half the staff
  • Tying legislative pay to balancing the budget
  • Bringing federal spending down to 18 percent of GDP
  • Passing a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution
  • Privatizing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
  • Privatizing the TSA
  • Dramatically scaling down and repurposing the EPA
  • Performing a full audit of the federal government
  • Creating an across-the-board moratorium on new federal regulations and auditing all regulations from the past five years
  • Freezing federal salaries (Except for military and law enforcement) and cutting the president’s salary in half until there is a balanced budget.

Perry may be faltering in the polls, but this list reminds us why he was a contender in the first place. At the very least, let’s hope that the eventual Republican nominee has the good sense to co-opt this agenda.

March 29th, 2011 at 10:39 pm
Marco Rubio Throws Down the Gauntlet on the Debt Ceiling
Posted by Troy Senik Print

Republicans in Congress are currently split on whether to accept incremental budget cuts in the name of political pragmatism or to hold a hard line — and face the possibility of a government shutdown or a freeze in the debt ceiling — in the name of principle. Freshman Florida Senator Marco Rubio takes to the editorial pages of the Wednesday edition of the Wall Street Journal with a message that leaves no doubt where he stands:

“Raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure.” So said then-Sen. Obama in 2006, when he voted against raising the debt ceiling by less than $800 billion to a new limit of $8.965 trillion. As America’s debt now approaches its current $14.29 trillion limit, we are witnessing leadership failure of epic proportions.

I will vote to defeat an increase in the debt limit unless it is the last one we ever authorize and is accompanied by a plan for fundamental tax reform, an overhaul of our regulatory structure, a cut to discretionary spending, a balanced-budget amendment, and reforms to save Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

For months now, we’ve heard “sober” politicians tell us that it’s time to have “an adult conversation” about the size and cost of government in which “everything is on the table”. It looks like Marco Rubio is calling their bluff.

February 8th, 2011 at 5:29 pm
Balanced Budget Amendment Gains Democratic Support

Recently, Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) signed on as a co-sponsor to Senator Richard Shelby’s (R-AL) balanced budget amendment bill, marking the first time a Democratic senator has supported such a measure since Zell Miller (D-GA) did eight years ago.

While Shelby’s version differs in some ways from the framework promoted by CFIF’s “One More Vote” initiative, Udall’s surprise support is welcome news.  Getting bipartisan consensus on the need to rein in federal spending is the sine qua non of real budget reform.

My hat is off to Udall for putting himself on the record in favor of spending restraint.  Now, it’s time to convert his Democratic brethren.

H/T: U.S. News & World Report

January 24th, 2011 at 2:25 pm
TODAY’S LINEUP: CFIF’s Renee Giachino Hosts “Your Turn” on WEBY Radio 1330 AM
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Join CFIF Corporate Counsel and Senior Vice President Renee Giachino today from 4:00 p.m. CST to 6:00 p.m. CST (that’s 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. EST) on Northwest Florida’s 1330 AM WEBY, as she hosts her show “Your Turn.”  Today’s star guest lineup includes:

4:00 p.m. CST/5:00 p.m. EST:  Edward Lengel, Author, “Inventing George Washington: America’s Founder, in Myth & Memory”

4:30 p.m. CST/5:30 p.m. EST:  Attorney Jon Harris, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., Nashville, TN — Frivolous Lawsuits/Pleading Standards/Due Process and CFIF Amicus Curiae Brief

5:00 p.m. CST/6:00 p.m. EST:  Jordan Sekulow, Director of International Operations, American Center for Law and Justice — Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Program

5:30 p.m. CST/6:30 p.m. EST:  Lucy Morrow Caldwell, Executive Director of Pass the BBA

Please share your comments, thoughts and questions at (850) 623-1330, or listen via the Internet by clicking here.  You won’t want to miss it today!

January 4th, 2011 at 2:16 pm
U.S. National Debt Jumps Past $14 Trillion Mark

According to the U.S. Treasury, on December 31 the National Debt stood at a whopping $14,025,215,218,708.52, breaking the $14 trillion mark for the first time in our nation’s history.  As CBSNews.com reported yesterday: 

It took just 7 months for the National Debt to increase from $13 trillion on June 1, 2010 to $14 trillion on Dec. 31. It also means the debt is fast approaching the statutory ceiling [of] $14.294 trillion set by Congress and signed into law by President Obama last February.

Congress must get serious about implementing significant across-the-board spending cuts and it should use the pending vote on the debt ceiling to ensure that happens.  Furthermore, we need to stop the bleeding by forcing Congress and the president, via a constitutional amendment, to present and pass a balanced federal budget annually without raising taxes.

November 19th, 2010 at 9:45 am
Podcast: Florida’s Chief Financial Officer-Elect Discusses Need for Federal Balanced Budget Amendment
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

Interview with Jeff Atwater, former Florida Senate President and Florida’s Chief Financial Officer-Elect, on why he led the charge for a nonbinding referendum on Florida’s support for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to require a balanced federal budget without raising taxes.

Listen to the interview here.

September 29th, 2010 at 11:47 am
CFIF’s “One More Vote” Campaign Launches Ad in Support of Balancing the Federal Budget Without Raising Taxes

Earlier this month, the Center for Individual Freedom launched its “One More Vote” campaign in support of a constitutional amendment requiring Congress to balance the federal budget without raising taxes.

This week, the campaign launched its first 30-second ad, which can be viewed below.

 

CFIF’s goal is to get this ad in front of as many concerned Americans as possible, but we need your help.  Please consider a contribution to CFIF’s “One More Vote” initiative today to help us publicize this urgent campaign to force the politicians in Washington to stop the spending. 

To make a donation, click here.

September 24th, 2010 at 5:06 pm
CFIF’s “One More Vote”: Something the “Pledge to America” Omitted
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Conservative reaction to the House Republicans’ “Pledge to America” varies.  Whatever one’s views toward the plan, however, it did omit an item high on conservatives’ agenda:  a proposed Constitutional balanced budget amendment.  Enter CFIF’s “One More Vote,” which refers to the fact that Congress fell just one vote short in the 1990s of passing a balanced budget amendment and sending it to the states for ratification.  Our “One More Vote” initiative, which readers are urged to sign, would not only require a balanced budget, but prevent that from becoming a convenient excuse to raise taxes by requiring a 60% supermajority to create or increase taxes, or to raise the nation’s debt ceiling.

Party change won’t be enough this time around.  With “One More Vote,” we can collectively create something more lasting for America’s future generations.

September 7th, 2010 at 12:27 pm
CFIF Launches OneMoreVote.org Initiative on Spending, Budget Reform
Posted by CFIF Staff Print

15 Years and $13 Trillion in Debt Later, A Grassroots Campaign For ‘One More Vote’ Starts Anew

Washington, D.C. – The Center for Individual Freedom (CFIF) today announced the launch of the “One More Vote” campaign and its accompanying website OneMoreVote.org, designed as a grassroots-driven, online enlistment of activists across America focused on pressuring Congress and the administration to enact fundamental spending and budget reforms and change the wasteful tax, borrow and spend policies currently part of the culture in Washington, DC.

The One More Vote campaign is built on a foundation of both grassroots and legislative advocacy: activists become participants and supporters of the “Your Vote, Your Voice” coalition focused on registering spending and budget reforms as a top priority with lawmakers in Washington, while also presenting common-sense reforms that require a balanced federal budget and higher vote thresholds when raising existing taxes, imposing new taxes or raising the federal debt limit.

The One More Vote campaign name and concept is a nod to the last visible public battle over budget and spending reforms in Congress in 1995 and 1997: the Balanced Budget Amendment reform effort, a measure that fell just one vote short of passage.

“According to expert estimates, our nation’s debt of $13 trillion will skyrocket to more than $20 trillion by the year 2020, or sooner” said Jeff Mazzella, CFIF’s President.  “The fiscal policies being pursued by Congress and the administration only make matters worse.  President Obama’s budgets are projected to run up more debt than all other presidents in American history – from George Washington to George W. Bush – combined. Americans are angry with the status quo, ready to take action and ready to pressure Congress with budget principles that individual taxpayers already apply to themselves.”

The One More Vote effort lays the groundwork for real and meaningful legislation and allows voters and individual activists to become citizen cosponsors of the One More Vote agenda focused on reforming out-of-control spending policies and saving America from economic ruin.

The One More Vote agenda includes what CFIF is calling “The 60% Solution” reform package, which calls for a Constitutional Amendment requiring:

• A federal balanced budget annually;
• A 60% vote, in both the U.S. House and U.S. Senate, to raise the debt ceiling; and
• A 60% vote, in both the U.S. House and U.S. Senate, to increase taxes or impose new taxes.

Through OneMoreVote.org, individual Americans are participants in the reform process by learning more about The 60% Solution, signing on as a citizen cosponsors and contacting Congress to urge their support for The 60% Solution.

Read more here.

Join the effort here.

Follow on Twitter here. (@OneMoreVoteCFIF)