Republicans have been pushing to amend the Constitution to require a balanced budget. The latest mark up by the Republican-controlled House Judiciary Committee (H.J. Res.1) would require a balanced federal budget in peacetime conditions unless two-thirds of both houses of Congress authorize a specific deficit. In addition, lawmakers could not boost expenditures beyond 18 percent of Gross Domestic Product or increase taxes without two-thirds “supermajority” consent. The chances of such an amendment to the Constitution making its way through the House and Senate (a two-thirds vote is required) and being adopted by three fourths of the states (38 of 50) is slim to none. However, at least one poll has shown that 65% of Americans favor such an amendment, most likely because they have no idea what such a amendment would mean to the country.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) took a look at the ramifications of adopting a Balanced Budget Amendment like the one the Republicans propose. Here are some of CBPP’s key findings:
- Veteran’s medical care, homeland security activities, border protection, the FBI, services for disadvantaged or abused children, services frail elderly people, services for people with severe disabilities, would have to be cut by as much as 70% by 2021 relative to the already reduced budget for 2011.
- Medicare cuts would have to be significantly DEEPER than under the Ryan Plan.
- Medicaid would have to be cut in half.
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) would have to be cut in half.
- Supplemental Security Income would have to be cut in half.
- Pell Grants to help low-income students to afford college would have to be cut by as much as $86 billion over ten years
- Farm programs would have to be cut by as much as $84 billion over 10 years.
THE REPUBLICANS WOULD INSIST THAT ALL OF THE DEFICIT REDUCTION REQUIRED TO MEET THE CONSTITUTIONAL REQUIREMENT TO BALANCE THE BUDGET BE ACHIEVED THROUGH SPENDING CUTS AND NONE THROUGH REVENUES.
This is what the Republicans want to do to our country. This is what they WILL do to our country if they can gain sufficient control over the Presidency, House, Senate and state legislatures in the coming elections. Think about that anytime you even consider voting Republican regardless of office or election, state, local or federal.
The proposal for a Balanced Budget Amendment is just another reminder of how sad, cynical, self-centered and just down right cruel the Republican/Tea Party philosophy is. No wonder some embarrassed conservatives have found it necessary to proclaim their compassion. Only conservatives would feel the need for such a qualifier; to call themselves "Compassionate" Conservatives. No liberal or progressive would ever feel the need to say he or she was a "compassionate" liberal or "compassionate" progressive, it would be redundant to do so.