Friday, November 18, 2011

Sham BBA failed passage

The House has rejected the rather weak excuse for a Balanced Budget Amendment, 261 to 165. Voting on a BBA was one of the stipulations in the Budget Control Act of 2011, as was the Super 'Duper' Committee, both of which were supposed to serve as tools for fighting the deficit. However, wavering Republican leadership approved of a symbolic BBA containing less restraints in hopes that more Democrats would be attracted to help pass it...they were wrong, again. A Human Events report gives us a good snapshot of the differing perspectives between the parties:

The amendment defeated today was the kind of Balanced Budget Amendment that could easily become a cudgel for extracting massive tax increases from the American public (“Hey, we gotta balance the budget! It’s the law! Now make with your “fair share” and give us another trillion bucks!”) That’s why fiscal hawk Paul Ryan​ (R-WI), along with David Dreier​ (R-CA), Louie Gohmert​ (R-TX), and Justin Amash (R-MI), voted against it, as reported by MSNBC:

"I’m concerned that this version will lead to a much bigger government fueled by more taxes," Ryan said in a statement. "Spending is the problem, yet this version of the BBA makes it more likely taxes will be raised, government will grow, and economic freedom will be diminished. Without a limit on government spending, I cannot support this Amendment."

This, of course, was not a concern for tax-hungry Democrats, who had other reasons for voting against the measure:

"A Constitutional amendment that cannot easily be enforced to balance the budget is a hollow gesture that at the very least will be ineffective," Rep. Van Hollen said in the letter, "At the very worst, a balanced budget amendment enshrined within the Constitution could generate a Constitutional impasse with catastrophic consequences."

That would be Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), who sits on the farcical Super Committee, charged with the awesome responsibility of ensuring the national debt only increases by 80% over the next 10 years. When he talks about “hollow, ineffective gestures,” he means “horrible embarrassments to Congressional spendaholics, who have no intention of restraining themselves until the economy suffers a complete breakdown.”

Perhaps it's understandable that some Republicans voted for this because it was the only thing in the form of a BBA sitting on the table, and Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) appeared to be one of those; however in his case, he proclaimed that the GOP missed a significant opportunity by not standing firm on Cut, Cap & Balance earlier this year:

Today’s vote provided yet one more reason why the House should have stood firm for ‘Cut, Cap, Balance.' It is purely political theater to require that the House and Senate simply take a vote on – rather than actually pass – a Balanced Budget Amendment. It is just another symbolic exercise for the history books. Time and again, Washington has failed to enact structural reforms that would force politicians to get spending under control. ‘Cut, Cap, Balance’ was the opportunity of a lifetime to actually force Washington to balance its budget like 49 of the 50 states are required to do.

We were told to abandon ‘Cut, Cap, Balance’ because default was supposedly looming. But, on the day of supposed default, there were billions of dollars in the Treasury to cover our obligations. And, weeks later even Vice President Biden admitted that default would never happen. But what did happen, though, was a credit downgrade, due in large part to Washington’s failure to implement structural reforms to end to the out-of-control spending and borrowing – reforms like a Balanced Budget Amendment and real spending caps.

It’s disappointing that when we had $14.3 trillion in debt this summer the House did not stand its ground and force the Democratic Senate to take up ‘Cut, Cap, Balance’ to reverse Washington’s addition of spending. But, it’s even more disappointing that in the same week that America surpasses the $15 trillion debt threshold, Democrats still continue to balk at the idea of requiring Washington to balance its budget.

Hear that, Speaker Boehner?  Hear that, Sen. McConnell?  He's right about that...WE were right when we were yelling CUT, CAP & BALANCE! We can't get out of this economic debacle hopscotching from one sham after another. Have some guts, man, and produce an authentic balanced budget amendment with real caps on spending and a required 2/3 majority vote to raise taxes.  Real restraint, real solutions, that all Republicans can get behind.  Let the Dems attempt to vote that down in an election year.

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