Voting on the BBA

Like many folks, I too support the idea of a balanced budget.  The federal government must get its finances in order to prevent the country from spiraling deeper into debt.  Every state government except the socialist-leaning Vermont requires a balanced budget, so why should D.C. be any different?  My Representative, Bob Goodlatte (VA-6), is working hard to pass a balanced budget amendment.  Currently, he is promoting two differing versions and you can listen to his commentary on this issue here:

This morning on Facebook, Representative Justin Amash (MI-3) offered a few of his concerns regarding the specifics of the proposal:

I appreciate the efforts of leadership and Rep. Bob Goodlatte to improve the version of the balanced budget amendment coming to the House floor. However, I still have serious concerns about how this BBA will function if ratified.

First, its design will cause big spikes and dips in the federal budget, which means it doesn’t sufficiently protect against sudden, dramatic tax hikes and doesn’t lend itself to long-term policy making. This BBA would not permit multi-year averaging of revenues to smooth out the curve, not even through separate implementing legislation.

Second, it allows a simple majority (of the whole) to authorize unlimited deficit spending whenever the country is in a military conflict. Fortunately, the revised version limits deficit spending to the extent required for the specific military conflict.

Third, the balance requirement takes effect five years after ratification, with no gradual phase-in. The way Congress works, it’s unlikely that serious efforts at spending reform will occur until the last minute. With the balance requirement looming, Members of Congress will feel immense pressure simply to raise taxes (massively) to avoid violating the Constitution, or, perhaps more likely, the BBA will be ignored.

Amending the Constitution is a serious matter with monumental implications. I support a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, but it’s critical that we do this the right way and not just to make a political statement.

My biggest concern is point number two that Amash raises.  Given that this nation has more or less been in constant military conflict for the last decade, can’t Congress easily ignore the principles of this balanced budget amendment?  And if the answer were yes, would a balanced budget amendment serve much of a purpose at all?

We need to stop spending our future, our children’s future, and yes, even our grandchildren’s future.  America must have a balanced budget amendment for it is abundantly clear that if given a blank check, Washington will spend and borrow like there is no tomorrow.  I just want to make sure that if we manage to pass a BBA, it has sufficient teeth to properly restrain those in power.

No Need for a Balanced Budget Amendment?

While the federal government continues to spend recklessly, there have been many outcries for remedy.  One of the most popular solutions is a balanced budget amendment to the United States Constitution.  My Representative, Bob Goodlatte, is one of the chief proponents of this effort and has been championing the idea for many years.

Earlier today, I received an interesting email on the subject from his Republican opponent for Virginia’s sixth district seat, Karen Kwiatkowski.  The text is as follows:

Representative Goodlatte, representing his own constituency of “always bigger government” while continually complaining that Congress can’t seem to make ends meet, has asked us to speak out on his Balanced Budget Amendment (Roanoke Times, 9/19/2001).    I, and many others, have publicly criticized the proposed amendment for being toothless and too late.  Yet, with false promises of future savings, Bob once again voted to raise the debt ceiling, most recently to over $14 trillion dollars.

Turns out, we never needed a balanced budget amendment, because we already have a Public Law that requires the federal government to live within its means.  Public Law 95-435 was signed into law in 1977, and went into effect in 1981.  It states, “The total outlays of the Federal Government shall not exceed its receipts.”

Our Congress does not, and has never, followed the laws it passes, nor is it overly concerned with the Constitution.  We seem to be represented by a Congressman who doesn’t even know the existing law.  Instead, he harps on a new amendment, one which offers the Congress many waivers, no penalties, will take years to be ratified, if ever, and abjectly fails to address the money creating function of the Federal Reserve.

I guess there’s a reason why a CBS poll this week showed that only 6% of voters believe the congressional incumbents deserve to remain in office.

Looking over the congressional summary of H.R. 9214 which apparently became Public Law 95-435 on October 10th, 1978, one does indeed find that “beginning with fiscal year 1981, the total budget outlays of the Federal Government shall not exceed its receipts”.  You can read the official summary for yourself on the Library of Congress Thomas website here.

This development raises three very important questions.  Assuming Public Law 95-435 is in effect, why is it insufficient?  And if it is a law, then how has the Congress been able to act in bold defiance of this law for the last thirty years?  Will a balanced budget amendment solve this problem?

So is a balanced budget amendment necessary to restrain our out of control federal spending as Bob Goodlatte recommends?  Or is it simply a smoke and mirrors ploy as Karen Kwiatkowski writes?

Kwiatkowski Responds

Several hours after receiving the previous message from Representative Bob Goodlatte, Karen Kwiatkowski, Goodlatte’s challenger for the Republican nomination for the 6th district seat, offered the following response:

Long Knives and Long Noses in Congress

The infamous Night of the Long Knives refers to an internal political purge of the national socialist party in Germany in the summer of 1934, whereby the left wing was attacked and destroyed by the right wing.

We see this scenario played out, in charade and tentatively, this week with the President’s weekly message and the GOP response presented by Virginia’s 6th District Representative, Bob Goodlatte.    On September 3rd, the President pleaded to an economically shell-shocked nation about a transportation spending bill held up in the Senate.   In 2007, when the transportation bill multiyear spending phenom was passed, it was filled with pork.   The House sent the extension to which Obama refers over to the Senate back in March, with full Republican support, including a “Yea” vote enthusiastically granted by GOP statist Mr. Goodlatte.   The Senate has not acted yet, and time’s a’ wastin’ on this bit o’ fat-packed stimulus.

Hence, Obama’s whine.  In all things spending, the GOP and the Democratic Party are public frenemies, wholly devoted to each other to the bitter gallows-on-the-horizon end. Our long knives event in the summer of 2011 was a supercilious attack on the big state “left” by the big state “right,” and it ended in preserving the good order of the status quo, as expected.

More spending could be counted on, more borrowing was ensured.  Again, Mr. Goodlatte and most of his GOP comrades enthusiastically voted for more, more, more!    For the proles, trolls, hobbits and livestock across this country, otherwise known as voters, citizens, and Americans, the debt ceiling increase act was titled, “The Budget Control Act.”  It budgeted nothing, it controlled nothing, and it insults our intelligence.  The political class likes the term “no-brainer.”  But Mr. Obama, we the people mean that term a little differently than you did in your address Saturday morning.

The Congressional long knife charade of right statist block against the left statist block has resulted in consolidation of the state.  A solidification of the clueless and corrupt, a fusion of blind bought-off bureaucrats and the visionary vipers of the federal government who know what is coming, and are getting theirs first.   The republic is long gone.

Enter the GOP response.  It begins with jobs, and blames the President for spending – when it is indeed the House of Representatives that holds and controls the pursestrings.   The GOP response is correct in pointing our that excessive government is burdensome and kills private enterprise.  It is correct in noting that government spending (robbing both Peter and Paul) is the most inefficient and counterproductive way to put people to work.    But then the GOP response goes all Pinocchio on the people, with the finger-pointing at their hapless socialist co-dependent in the White House.

Partway through the GOP response, the tenor shifts and the GOP nose grows visibly larger.  The proposed Balanced Budget Amendment proposal is brought up, out of nowhere.  The BBA is toothless, unwise and un-conservative as written, and ultimately unratifiable, and everyone in Washington knows it.

Why the lies?  Because the proles and trolls like to hear that “something will be done” about the excessive unsustainable borrowing.  This borrowing habit has made serfs of all Americans, helots of our children, slaves of our grandchildren.   Yet Congress cannot help itself. A Congress that could not even hold the line from borrowing two more trillion dollars in July, now claims that it can truly, really, honestly this time we will, balance the budget if only they could vote for a law, a toothless one at that, and then if, over the next 6-9 years, three-fourths of the states could accept this amendment to the Constitution – an amendment that would eat into their own degree of federal aid, loans, grants and subsidies while guaranteeing increased taxation on the states’ citizens and tariffs on its exports.

Meanwhile, Congress is happy that they have blamed everyone but themselves for their reckless, impetuous, compulsive spending habits.  Same-old, same-old, and when questioned in coming years about the growing and increasingly oppressive debt burden, Congressional Pinocchios will continue to tell the people that it isn’t their fault.

Goodlatte on the Economy

Yesterday, Representative Bob Goodlatte (VA-6), who represents me in the House of Representatives, offered the following thoughts for the weekly Republican address. His major concerns focus on the economy and the need for a balanced budget amendment.

The passage of a balanced budget amendment has been a major focus of Representative Goodlatte for quite a while. Currently, there are two different plans for this balanced budget. One simply requires that expenditures not exceed revenue, while the second sets a specific federal spending cap of 18 percent of GDP. Whether this spending limit is too high, or too low, is certainly a matter of debate.

Well, here is Representative Goodlatte in his own words: