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Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment is Guise to Push the Republican Budget Agenda

Jun 27, 2011

The balanced budget constitutional amendment (H. J. Res. 1) recently approved by the Judiciary Committee is a masquerade designed to foster the policy choices of the Republican budget: to end the Medicare guarantee for seniors and slash vital services while providing tax breaks for thewealthy. This balanced budget amendment would have dire consequences on the economy, on Medicare and other government guarantees to our citizens, and on Congress's ability to respond to changing needs.

The Republican constitutional amendment would both require a balanced budget after a specific time and also impose serious impediments to increasing revenues, making it that much harder to balance the budget. The proposal would require a supermajority in both houses of Congress to both approve spending greater than revenues as well as to raise revenues. However, a simple majority vote is all that would be needed to approve tax cuts – tax cuts that would necessitate deeper spending cuts to match lower revenues. This disparity in the approach to revenue raising and cutting highlights that this balanced budget amendment is not about balancing the budget, but rather about establishing a constitutionally mandated path to impose the Republican budget priorities. The following analysis by the Budget Committee Democratic staff describes the impact of the bill as reported by the Judiciary Committee.