The PJ Tatler

Could the Need for a Balanced Budget Amendment Be Any More Obvious Now?

Following up on my post from earlier today, every Democrat who was in the Senate in 2006 voted against raising the debt ceiling, and that includes then Sen. Barack Obama. Now he’s out there showing everyone what a great leader he is, promising to veto the GOP’s cut, cap and balance plan while offering no actual plan of his own. That’s not leadership at all, it’s just fecklessness.

But he isn’t alone in creating the debt ceiling crisis. Republicans held both houses of Congress and the presidency before and during that 2006 vote, and despite the party’s branding as the party of fiscal hawks and smaller government, they grew government and had to pop the debt ceiling to accommodate their spending spree.

The Democrats took Congress in the 2006 elections, and took over Washington entirely in 2008. During their years in power, they took the opportunity to increase the very over-spending they decried in that 2006 debt ceiling vote. And the Obama years have seen a spending spree so irresponsible that we haven’t even had a budget for more than 800 days while the national debt has soared.

United government, under either party, did not rein in federal spending. Divided government, as we have now, is not serving as a check on spending either. Neither party can be trusted at this point not to try buying our votes with our own money. The debt ceiling itself is more like a suggestion than an actual law; when it comes time to bust it, our betters in Washington always do. It’s not a real limit as long as this pattern continues. The only time divided government worked to bring spending into reason was when the GOP controlled Congress and President Clinton cared more about his re-election than about his ideology. Obama is a different kind of politician, though, and he doesn’t have the strong economy that helped Clinton and the GOP look good back then. We have a terrible economy and Obama is making it worse. We’re in a different time, with different actors. We now need a law to force them all to do what they don’t want to do.

The only way I see to fix this problem is to force Washington’s hand with a Balanced Budget Amendment. I don’t see another way to make the politicians stop the unsustainable regime of borrowing, printing and spending. And I don’t see a way to force them to deal with the crisis that they have created, and we have tolerated.

If anyone else has any better ideas I’d love to hear them. But it seems to me that the past five or six years are as strong a proof as we’re ever likely to see that trusting Washington to be responsible with our money is a fool’s errand, and it’s obvious now that we need the force of law to shackle them. If we don’t stop them, they’re sure to just keep on spending until the whole system crashes.

States have to balance their budgets by law, and that forces them to make hard choices they would not otherwise make. Those most willing to make hard choices are doing better in the current economy than those who are least willing. Like the states, the federal government shouldn’t have a choice anymore. We need a Balanced Budget Amendment stop this nonsense.