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The GOP Dilemma on the Vote for a Balanced Budget Amendment

Which version should the Republicans back?

by
Peter Roff

Bio

November 13, 2011 - 12:00 am
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But, as neither version really has a chance of passing with the required two-thirds vote, critics of this analysis say that offering up the historic version amounts to throwing away the vote, giving members who do not really believe in the need for any kind of amendment to vote “for” one without having to deal with the consequences of casting a vote in favor of tax or spending limitation — especially when all the GOP senators are already on record as supporting the other version.

From a policy standpoint the so-called “clean” BBA is equally flawed. One major concern about it is that it may allow for judges to order legislative bodies to raise taxes in the event the budget is out of balance in order to satisfy the requirement that revenue equals expenditures. The strong version contains language providing protection against that possibility.

There are groups that will and do support the “clean” version because they want to see an amendment added to the Constitution.  There are others, however, that have taken the position amending the Constitution to add the “clean” version is not only foolhardy but would actually do more potential harm than having no amendment at all. Since neither version currently has the votes to pass, the policy concerns take something of a backseat to the political concerns, which leaves people scratching their heads over the seeming unwillingness of the GOP House leadership to stick with the tougher language, the version that separates the men and women from the boys and the girls.

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Peter Roff is a contributing editor at U.S. News & World Report. A former senior political writer for United Press International, he is currently a senior fellow at the Institute for Liberty and at Let Freedom Ring, a non-partisan public policy organization.
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