Sixteen years ago, Congress failed to pass a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution by a single Senate vote. Back then our national debt amounted to about $5 trillion, and unemployment stood at 5.6%.
Fast-forward to the present day, and the status of a balanced budget amendment remains unchanged. But our nation’s financial and economic standings have taken a turn for the worse. The federal debt has grown from $5 trillion dollars to an unfathomable $15 trillion, and our unemployment rate has shot up from 5.6% to more than 9%.
Sixteen years ago, that single senator’s vote could have changed everything.
Imagine how prosperous our economy could be if it weren’t strapped down by that extra $10 trillion. Imagine how much brighter the futures of our children and grandchildren could be if they weren’t burdened with having to repay the money that Washington has wasted. Imagine how mom-and-pop shops could be growing, hiring and expanding if looming tax increases weren’t a factor in their business plans.
Sixteen years ago, a balanced budget amendment would have turned all of those possibilities into today’s realities.
Enough is enough. Missing another opportunity to balance the budget is not a mistake that we can afford to make twice. That’s why I authored a balanced budget amendment, so that we can stop spending and start paying down our debt. My amendment is the most aggressive and most conservative approach to putting serious restraints on our nation’s coin purse. It would ensure that Washington spends taxpayers’ money much as they would—responsibly, and within a budget.
While I would gladly support any of the balanced budget amendments that are brought up for a vote this Congress, mine has stricter thresholds for increasing taxes, upping our budget, and obligating debt to future Congresses. My bill requires a two-thirds majority vote to raise taxes, while other bills only require three-fifths or a simple majority vote. Additionally, it is the only bill to limit spending growth of the entire budget to no more than population growth plus inflation, and it is the only bill to force the next fiscal year to account for any imbalances in the previous year’s budget.
Furthermore, it would allow for waivers in increasing spending only during an actual declaration of war. Other bills allow for waivers during military conflicts as well. Lastly, my balanced budget amendment is the only bill that would require all excess revenue at the end of a fiscal year to be returned to the American taxpayers.
As decided in the debt-ceiling negotiations, both the House and Senate are required by law to vote on a balanced budget amendment before the end of this year. The bad news is that the amendment probably won’t pass the Senate, and it is unlikely to be signed by our President. Americans need to use every means possible to communicate their support of balancing the budget to their legislators in Washington. It is not too late to fix our broken fiscal house, but we have to act now, and we absolutely must get a balanced budget amendment signed into law.