Writing in the Washington Post today, George Will discusses The Goldwater Institution’s plan to balance the budget through a constitutional amendment done via a constitutional convention.
Total federal government outlays shall not exceed receipts unless the excess of outlays is financed exclusively by debt, which initially shall be authorized to be 105 percent of outstanding debt on the date the amendment is ratified. Congress may increase the authorized debt only if a majority of state legislatures approve an unconditional, single-subject measure proposing the amount of such increase.
Whenever outstanding debt exceeds 98 percent of the set limit, the president shall designate for impoundment specific expenditures sufficient to keep debt below the authorized level. The impoundment shall occur in 30 days unless Congress designates an alternative impoundment of the same or greater amount.
Any bill for a new or increased general revenue tax shall require a two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress — except for a bill that reduces or eliminates an existing tax exemption, deduction or credit, or that “provides for a new end-user sales tax which would completely replace every existing income tax levied by” the U.S. government.
Will suggests that Congress in its current state would likely never limit itself this way and thus, a constitutional convention is a better option. He goes on to say that concerns over a runaway convention should be allayed because “[t]he compact, however, would closely confine a convention: State legislatures can form a compact — a cooperative agreement — to call a convention for the codified, one-item agenda of ratifying the balanced-budget amendment precisely stipulated in advance.”
It’s clear that our current path is not working out and that we need new options. The option Will discusses might or might not be the right choice, but it is a conversation worth having.
Politicians on both sides like to pretend that the budget is stretched thin. That cuts are painful and hard to find. Some have recently even gone so far as to suggest there’s nothing left to cut. As if we needed another reminder, the GAO released its report yesterday detailing just why this assumption is so wrong.
The report catalogues sixty-four separate actions that Congress or the President could take to improve efficiency and effectiveness across twenty-six different areas on a broad range of government functions.
To quote the summary,
- GAO suggests 19 actions to address evidence of fragmentation, overlap, or duplication in 11 new areas across the government missions of defense, health, income security, information technology, and international affairs.
- GAO also presents 45 opportunities for executive branch agencies or Congress to take actions to reduce the cost of government operations or enhance revenue collections for the Treasury across 15 areas of government.
These changes (view an interactive tool for tracking potential savings here) are the definition of easy choices. They could save billions. And that’s just by trimming the fat.
CRS president Jonathan Bydlak released the following statement in response to the report:
“We know that saving our country’s finances will require some tough choices. The big-spending sacred cows must be addressed. But these options come far easier. It’s simply a no-brainer to want government to run without duplication, inefficiency, and waste. People on both sides can and should be excited by these findings.”
Today, the Senate is expected to pass an extension of long-term unemployment insurance. The bill is arguably dead on arrival in the House, but it’s nevertheless worthwhile to take a few minutes to correct what is a very false narrative.
Extending unemployment insurance is, in fact, a band-aid on a larger problem, and it’s a perfect example of the problems with government spending.
In Washington, a false narrative exists when it comes to unemployment insurance. The question is not one of helping people or not; rather, the question is whether we as a nation can afford to keep spending money on a band-aid for larger financial woes that have yet to be addressed.
As Julie Borowski pointed out, the program was established in 2008, during the worst of the financial crisis, and intended to be a temporary program to supplement state programs, which typically last 28 weeks. As Borowski notes, the program has been going on for five years – and some have been able to collect benefits for as long as 99 weeks. She aptly quotes Milton Friedman in saying, there is nothing as permanent as a “temporary” government program.
The narrative here is simply false. The recent jobs report showed that Americans are looking for jobs at the lowest level since the 1970s and pointed to the unmistakable fact that many Americans have simply given up on finding gainful employment.
This is the true working-class issue on which the narrative should be focused. Rather than fighting over whether to pour millions more into a supposedly temporary, supplemental program, lawmakers should look for solutions to keep people from needing such programs in the first place and truly fight for the working class.
We are very pleased to announce that Mike Causey, running for US House in North Carolina’s 4th Congressional District, has pledged to Reject the Debt. Causey is one of several Republican candidates seeking to fill the open seat left by Rep. Howard Coble’s retirement.
Read more in our press release below.
This weekend, April 4-6, grassroots activists and organizations from across Florida and the U.S. will convene in Orlando for the fifth annual Florida Liberty Summit.
The Coalition to Reduce Spending is proud to sponsor this event, where we’ll have the opportunity to speak with and sign up volunteers from around the state. We’re also excited that Jonathan Bydlak will be addressing attendees at 1:45 on Saturday.
Other speakers include Dr. Ron Paul, Sen. Rand Paul, constitutional attorney Bruce Fein, FreedomWorks president Matt Kibbe, and many more.
There are still tickets available. If you or someone you know will be in the area, please consider joining for what promises to be an exciting and encouraging event.
Even if you can’t make it, please keep in touch with our ongoing efforts in Florida. As you might know, Florida is shaping up to be a key state come November.
Over 100 candidates are already seeking office across the state. And all of them will be offered the chance to go on the record to Reject the Debt.
Our state-by-state efforts are a vital part of our work. We’re excited to kick off our Florida push this weekend.
I hope you can join us!