Tag Archives: Congress

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.

$500 Bonus Babies

I now see where Congress is considering giving $500 to every baby born. The idea is to start them on a savings account.

Happy BabyThat is lovely. Why stop with babies? Why not just give everyone $500, or $1,000 or $1 million? It’s just money, right?  If you can give billions to bankers and investment firms, why not babies? Everyone loves babies!

Here is one  reason. It’s not like we — that is the US government/taxpayers — have a bunch of loose change lying around just waiting for someone to spend it. We are borrowing money from China and other countries to pay for the financial fiasco the Brainiacs on Wall Street got us into last year, not to mention the ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. So we borrow more money from China (over $3B/yr) to pay people to have babies. Yeah, this is a real good idea. Let’s just give money away —  money we don’t have — money we have to borrow, mostly from people who don’t like us and want to own us.

Do you ever get the feeling that your Congressmen are just taking your money, then giving it back to you and making it look like it’s a gift? Hello! It was your money to start with, or China’s or whoever. Actually, when you think about it, it may not be “your money,” depending on who you are. When you consider that roughly half the people in the US don’t pay any income tax to begin with, you can see that “spread the wealth around” idea in play. Take money from those who have more of it and give it to those who have less.

I think a big reason Congress is considering the bill is that as long as they can be seen as giving money to their constituents, they will get votes. How many voters really care where it comes from?

Here is a famous quote from Alexis de Tocquiville to think about.

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

I think Congress discovered that a long time ago.

That’s my rant for the day. Sorry.