One week after White House Press Secretary Jay Carney set off a firestorm with his strongly worded criticism of the proposed Balanced Budget Amendment in response to a question from HUMAN EVENTS, the President himself today stepped up the assault on one of the most sought-after goals of Republicans in and out of Congress.
In answers to two questions posed at his news conference this morning, the President referred to the Balanced Budget Amendment as an example of a “House vote on a couple of things to make political statements.” Later, Mr. Obama was asked more specifically about his possibly accepting a BBA (Balanced Budget Amendment), and that’s when he took aim and fired.
“We don’t need a constitutional amendment to do it [balance the budget],” he said, adding that Washington should concentrate on balancing the budget “like a family” does in “cutting out things that aren’t necessary.”
In all likelihood aware of the widespread criticism his spokesman Carney drew from GOP lawmakers when he told HUMAN EVENTS that the U.S. debt crisis was “not a constitutional issue” and that a BBA “would not help the economy,” Obama avoided getting into specific criticism of the amendment (which now has the support of all 47 Republican senators). Noting that there are are several versions of the Balanced Budget Amendment, he specifically singled out the one championed by the recently formed “Cut, Cap and Balance” coalition and warned that it could lead to “half a trillion [dollars] in cuts . . . in every given year.”
This latest strike at the Balanced Budget Amendment comes as the House prepares to vote next week on its own package of $2.4 trillion in cuts with a BBA, in return for a vote to lift the debt ceiling. To go to the states with 67 votes, the amendment would need 20 Democratic senators joining the 47 pro-BBA Republican senators. In the House, all 240 Republicans are expected to support the proposal but the BBA would need the backing of 50 Democrats to reach the 290 needed for approval.
All signs are that a Balanced Budget Amendment won’t make it to the states—not next week anyway. But thanks to the comments of the President today, and his press secretary a week ago, the cause of the amendment has been elevated to fresh heights in the political agenda.