Why do we need an amendment?

Let’s talk a little politics.

I was interested when I saw this announcement about a news conference to be held in Atlanta today to push for a balanced budget amendment. Take a look at the list of Georgia’s Republican congressmen behind this effort. I have questions for these people. If you think a balanced budget is such a good idea, why do you need a constitutional amendment to force you to do it? And if you really believe a balanced budget is such a great idea, why have you been unable to produce one since Bill Clinton left office?

You can blame a lot on President Obama, but not all. Republicans were in control of the White House and the Congress for much of the 2000s, when the deficit exploded.

Here is what no one is saying. You don’t need a constitutional amendment to have a balanced budget. You just need some congressmen with some guts (or other anatomical parts.)

Most of the time I think a balanced budget is a wonderful idea, but not ALL of the time. Such a constitutional provision would prevent the government from responding to many emergencies, from wars to recessions. It has been observed that we could not have fought World War II, for instance, with a balanced budget amendment in place.

As it relates to our elected representatives, the Congress has lived up the saying:

“The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.”

Our Congressmen and women are like shopaholics who just can’t miss the next sale. They are addicted to spending the public’s money. Now they are apparently admitting they can’t control themselves, so they are asking for a constitutional amendment to control their impulses.  To continue the analogy a little further, they are saying they can’t help themselves and need someone to tear up their VISA card so they won’t be able to go shopping any longer.

These folks are supposed to be smart and capable of running a government. At least that is what they tell us every time they come up from election. Why do they need an artificial restraint to keep them from doing what they are supposed to do in the first place?

I have an idea; why don’t we just elect some representatives who can do the right thing without being forced to do so?

Here are two more links on the balanced budget amendment question.

From Business Week

From The Washington Post.

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