Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Balanced Budget Amendment

I take it that in the debt ceiling negotiations I am on the Republican side.  But the inclusion of a balanced budget amendment as one of the conditions is daft.  Today's column by Rich Lowry is a good summary of the arguments against.  The best point that he makes, because it is not a practical argument, is simply one of appropriateness:

"The Constitution is meant to set out the basic rules of the road for American governance. It’s not an appropriate vehicle for enshrining transitory or controversial policy preferences. This is what the 18th Amendment establishing Prohibition did, and so ensured widespread defiance of the nation’s foundational law."

As Lowry documents the version being floated stipulates that spending not exceed 18% of GNP with various exception clauses for emergencies such as a declaration of war.  But all of that is immaterial as against the specificity which doesn't belong.  We have too much debt, we spend too much, but an unconservative approach to achieve conservative goals, especially at the constitutional level, isn't the way to go.

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