The pursuit of a balanced budget is not new.

Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1798, “I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our Constitution. I would be willing to depend on that alone for the reduction of the administration of our government; I mean an additional article taking from the Federal Government the power of borrowing.”

But the first attempt at actually passing a balanced budget amendment didn’t occur until the 1936, according to the Congressional Research Service. From then on, Heritage Foundation Distinguished Fellow Ernest Istook explains in a new historical overview, the debate over a balanced budget amendment has been chock full of “frustrations, high-profile defections, reversals, and betrayals.”

And today’s debate over a new balanced budget amendment as part of a deal on the debt ceiling is no exception.

Istook’s advice to proponents of the current balanced budget amendment: “Prepare accordingly.” Proponents should look to the historical debate as a guide for defeating the opposition’s attempts to “confuse the issues by creating counterfeit versions and exceptions to provide political cover.”

Otherwise, Istook warns, “those who do not learn from the failures of history are doomed to repeat them.”

Comments (79)

JW Densmore - July 18, 2011

Is their a Tax Limitation to this Amendment

Morris Wilson Dillingham - July 18, 2011

The same people who are not honoring the present Constitution will assuredly be on hand to disrespect the newly amended one. This amendment will not change the attitudes and efforts of the elected nor the electors. We will still have to contend with activist courts and Leftist representatives.

John Waterfield - July 18, 2011

Would this open the door to tax increases? I’ve heard Walter E. Williams on Rush’s show several times say we need an amendment to cap spending at some percentage of GDP instead.

joe heinz - July 18, 2011

I would be in favor of the amendment if it would take 2/3 of Congress to raise taxes.

Don Stuart - July 18, 2011

I believe that a federal balanced budget amendment will not solve the problem. The fight will continue to cut spending or raise taxes. What happens in a deadlock? Oh, that’s where we are at now.

I would rather see an amendment to limit the government from borrowing from foreigners. Thus if they spend more than they take in then government will have to go to the citizens to purchase the debt. If citizens don’t agree, then the government doesn’t get the money. It should require a 3/4 vote to borrow from foreigners.

charles a pembroke - July 18, 2011

I don’t know the history about balance budget But I know I want one.Stop spending now.Those people in congress are scared to death to do anything.I mean both sides.Cmon lets do it.

Salvatore A Apicelli, Texas - July 18, 2011

Totally agree. If more of our elected officials were conservatives like Marco Rubio, then I would have trust in the government to curtail and reduce spending. Unfortunately they are not. They have proven to us over the years that they do not have the discipline to curtail spending. Therefor. it is right for we the people to impose a limit on them just like we do in most states and municipalities.

God Bless America
Salvatore A Apicelli

daren - July 18, 2011

I would like to see you put petitions for your readers to sign on your emails. like one on this cut cap and balance bill and other important issues. just a thought. thank you for your work. dr

Mike Woodward - July 18, 2011

I am a retired accountant and do not understand why our Federal Government cannot balance a budget each year, and stay within the budget guidelines.

This Congress is quickly destroying the great country.

Eduardo A. Guzman - July 18, 2011

Mr. “Istook warning it is so real and so to the point, “those who do not learn from the failures of history are doomed to repeat them.”
The problem is ““those who do not learn.” Is it because they are unwilling to accept the reality of the problem? or
Is it because they are really ignorant?
I am ot trying to be critical in an offensive way. The reality is that, without generalizing, there is a tremendous amount of voters, that are totally ignorant about these issues. Democrats want to keep them ignorant. History teach us that to be able to establish a totalitarian government you go to the least educated to get their support with lyes. This is exactly wht President Obama is doing, What they refer to as the minority vote is the ignorant vote!
We must TEACH. The Heritage Foundation is the greatest source of information, but in all honesty, is restricted to a few!

Gammy Sparkles - July 18, 2011

For 3 years I have watched as the Democrats – singlehandedly- controlled the congress, and passed bill after bill with other things stuffed in them, other than the initial purpose. And bill after bill we did not want, and we were the majority, yet, they passed because even our reps. would not listen to us. We called, mailed, emailed, blogged, videoed, and recalled. We went to tea parties in frustration to have anyone listen. The budget needs to be done to keep us strong. The nation cannot afford the liberal agenda that has taken too much hold on this nation. It is weakening our national security, our economy, energy, education, environment, mental state of mind, and our standing in the world. This feels like a planned heist! I consider myself a liberal conservative, but conservative, all the same. The attitude of the Democrats has become treasonous to me! Just a ranting granny here – Jeany Rush aka sparklestheclown aka Gammy Sparkles –

Lee Johnson - July 18, 2011

With the UNWILLINGNESS of either party to balance our federal budgets, I see NO alternaive but to push for a balanced budget amendment which SIMPLY states “The federal government shall not budget more than 90% of expected revenues nor spend any amount in excess of the actual revenues, except in time of war.”

Truman C Trekell - July 18, 2011

I agree with the need to press in for a balanced budget
amendment. Now, How can we get it passed in ANY
congress. I’m afraid it’s as likely as having congress vote
to reduce their salaries and benefits to what normal Americans receive.

John Walker - July 18, 2011

I have long been an advocate of a balanced budget amendment. However, within that idea I would like to propose the following:

Change the tax code to either a 10% flat tax or a 10% national sales tax and do away with all other taxes.

Also it makes no sense to have a balanced budget if government can increase taxes indiscriminately under the current carrot & stick approach. I would add verbiage limiting the size of government. I would tie the size of government to GDP in a way that government cannot ever exceed 20% of GDP. I would like it to be a smaller percentage but I could accept 20%.

As result you now have politicians who actually have to govern rather than serve their offices merely to enrich themselves by the threatening to tax.

Dexter Gill - July 18, 2011

I would agree that we need to learn from history. However there is no evidence that we have ever learned from history. Furthermore, even if a balanced budget amendment is passed and ratified, what makes us think Congress and the President will abide by it?? Most of Congressional actions are unconstitutional, they just continue to ignore it and pretend to have interpretations that says it is ok. Nothing will change!

Frankie Anderson - July 18, 2011

I am not in favor of a Constituitonal Amendment to balance the budget. I am not in favor of any in this generation believing they know better than the framers…and many framers and even Abraham Lincoln issued a powerful statement about amending the Consitution. The Constitution is not the problem: the immoral, unpatriotic, socialist, unethical members of the House and Senate and some who have been President are the problem. Until we again elect real patriots to office….we are doomed to repeat history I agree…and end up under some form of absolute despotism as the other nations in history have done. Study: Associate Justice Joseph Story and The Federalist Papers. May God Save the Republic!

Charles E. Spence - July 18, 2011

A balanced budget amendment is smoke for the Republicans to hide behind. Ronald Reagan always wanted a line item veto but the Court said spending was the Constitutional responsibility of Congress. If you add a balanced budget amendment then you introduce the Judicial branch into the mix. Do you really want the courts to decide how we spend our money. If you make spending Constitutional by adding a balanced Budget Amendment ultimately the courts will be the final judge of how our money is spent.

John Draper - July 18, 2011

We, Congress should push for a balanced budget amendment to be ratified by the states so that the President can’t veto it.

R. K. Smith - July 18, 2011

All i want congress to do is not raise the debt limit, i hope they stick to their guns.
If they stand fast they can beat this administration.

Robert Gearheart - July 18, 2011

The fact that the obvious is ignored by polititions is all telling. This is not unlike the repeated failure of Congress to pass even a bill if not a prefered admendment for stating Constitutional athority for bills introduced. There is a reason for the reticence. It would prohibit tyrants from exercising total power over the people. On the other hand, they ignor the Constitution now. Why would they comply to a new law. The covetousness of this kind of power is pure evil

ANNA - July 18, 2011

BEWARE AS THIS WHOLE DEBT CEILING THING IS PLAYING INTO OBAMA’S HANDS. “LET NO CRISIS GO TO WASTE.” HE HAS A WAY OF USING THINGS LIKE THIS TO GO AROUND THE CONGRESS TO DO WHAT HE WANTS. HE DOES NOT HAVE THE COUNTRY’S
WELL-BEING AT HEART. HE WANTS TO COLLAPSE
OUR SYSTEM AND BUILD UP HIS OWN IDEAL STYLE OF GOV. HE HAS TOLD US THIS. WAKE UP AMERICA.

Alex and Pat Compton - July 18, 2011

We balance our house hold budget because we are fiscal conservatives. We charge nothing and borrow nothing and when we ever had to we made sure we had to money to pay when the time came to pay. The government’s money is our money (the citizens of America) and should be treated be same way we treat our money. They do not have my permission to use my money for wasteful, frivolous, things. They do not have permission to give my money to other countries when our own country needs it to pay its debt and protect our future.

We need a balance budget amendment to our constitution and we need to keep greedy, ignorant, unprepared, people in the administration held to the will of the American people.
Thank you for your information and your stand to help to keep America informed.

Jim - July 18, 2011

Our most important character trait right now with this debt control process is stubbornness. The best thing we can do is to stubbornly resist all the devious lawyer bait and switch agendas tactics that always react to the simple and the true solutions. If our representatives can refuse to be distracted and confused, and push the simple balanced budget amendment day after day without sidebars, they will do what is necessary. Stubborn and unbudging 95 out of every 100 minutes will deliver the goods.

Nancy - July 18, 2011

We need a Balanced Budget Amendment if “We the People” are to ever get politicians to stop spending our money on unwanted &/or wasteful programs, etc.! Time to get Washington to “live within a budget” just as millions of Americans do everyday!

Steve Ellis - July 18, 2011

I do agree. I am sure that the Heritage Foundation is helping “the powers that Be” are well prepared this time. As I understand it, 72% of the American Public is behind this amendment. It is time for our “employees”, the US Congress to do the job !

Jack - July 18, 2011

Milton Friedman studied this more than myself; he wanted a balanced budget amendment that pegged spending to a percentage of GDP. Sounds like a good idea to be but if you are asking me will they try to get around it, well of course. The Republicans are already trying to get around it–coming up with some BS figure of 2.2 Trillion in cuts, then being held to the fire by the Tea Party, and now Mitch McConnell comes up with a trick to bypass the Amendment. Remember, even after Perot brought the BB Amendment to the forefront, the Republicans used the issue to try to win the election but afterwards Bob Dole pulled some parlimentary procedural trick to keep it from never being voted on again. None of them want it–they want the keys to the printing press and resent our infringement on their little free-for-all.

Jack - July 18, 2011

The Democrats have a balanced budget plan: FIT + FICA = 100% of your check. You submit an affirmative action plan showing how you want to use any of that money, and someone like Kathleen Sebilius approves or denies your plan. Criteria for you plan could include the number of gays or minorities you support with your check; or the number of “green cars” you own. Don’t laugh–this is the NEW AMERICA!

Chleo Brown - July 18, 2011

Is there no recourse when 60 % of the people don’t want to raise the debt ceiling or taxes–and want all this waste spending on earmarks —can we not call for a recall —

Benjamin Durrant - July 18, 2011

We need to phase out all Corporate Welfare over next four years, tax treatment on Hedge Funds and their Managers should be taxed as earned income. Dividend income over say $100,000 should be taxed as regular income. Phase out over 4 years the mortgage deduction. Such changes would reduce the Deficit and could lead to overall lower taxes. There are a lot of tax loopholes which need to be addressed. The GOP are too inflexible, Negotiate!!!!

Bob Moncrief - July 18, 2011

Mr. Istook said “In 2011, (Tom)Daschle”….wrote….”articles denouncing the BBA, complaining that it would….tie lawmakers’ hands.” To which I say GOOD!!

Bob Moncrief

GrannyRob - July 18, 2011

Are there so few of honor in Congress that greed supercedes common sense?

Jack - July 18, 2011

Mitch McConnell sounded really good for a while until he caved. He and McCain cannot be trusted–think of them as Democrats. That is what they have always been and they are no different now even when they imitate the Tea-Partiers. When will McCain be satisfied that he has done enough damage to the country? How many times can he kill the Rebuplicans? When will those idiots quit listening to him? Can’t God just take him to the Heavenly Currency Press in the Sky? How old is he? When will enough money be spent propping up the stock market? Is it worth it to prop up the market with printed dollars? Doesn’t inflation take its toll on the value? Isn’t the market just a price like any other? I would like to break off those atrophied arms and club him to death with them.

John Hillgardner - July 18, 2011

The 535 members of the U.S. Congress are the real enemies of this country. I am sure that they must have fits of laughter when they hear of such a patriotic idea as a Balanced Budget Amendment. They have a mental block to learning from history. They are complemented by our anti- family, anti-American President.
I am for the $4 Trillion deficit reduction and the elimination of all subsidies. But we know that will not happen, The future looks dim for the U.S.A.
I am a WW II veteran so that disqualifies me as irrelevant.

Richard Herr - July 18, 2011

I agree. Will Washington elitists ever vote to limit their ability to spend other people’s money to buy votes?

George Williams - July 18, 2011

I agree that the Republican leadership needs to do a better job of interpreting history in the debt ceiling debate, however, i also believe that the more serious issue than more debt at this stage is the need to reduce spending soon, if not sooner and to reduce the size of government in any way we can. I also believe that the Republicans need to get off the tax increase defense at least to the point that they would be willing to take corporate loopholes away. It is a fact that with 47% of the population on a government check combined with a growing increase in illegal voters,all of which receives sympathy from another 20 to 30% of the population, it may be too late for the conservative, fiscally responsible working minority to save this country from a total socialist future. We must find a way of awakening the under 30 population to the ideals and concepts of our founders and trust they will be prepared to reject the transitional stages of socialism in the next 10 to 12 years or this country is doomed forever and man’s greatest experiment will have failed.

Karl Pfirrmann - July 19, 2011

What is of gravest concern is that accordingly to some latest polling numbers, a majority of the American public see the Republicans and their approach to date as being on the wrong side of this issue. While I would like to believe that some of this group simply believe the Republicans haven’t gone far enough, I fear it is truer that the majority of this group feel that living in debt is just fine. If so, God help us all.

Bob Buckley - July 19, 2011

If the Republican leadership were truly interested in getting the balanced budget amendment to the States, they would be united behind one voice explaining to the American people the necessity to enact it. Polls show the people would be behind any serious effort in this regard. I don’t think the leadership wants this. We have to continue getting new people, Conservative people, in D.C. to get the work done needed to straighten out this Country.

Paul Mantyla - July 19, 2011

I’m a bit wary of a balanced budget amendment. California is required to have a balanced budget and that hasn’t worked out so well. And it seems like it could be used to justify tax increases. I’d be less pessimistic about a spending limit amendment (limit spending as a percentage of GDP).

William Morley - July 19, 2011

If we cap our spending in proportion to our GDP and convert to a flat tax system, (not withstanding eliminating the EPA) all of our econmic problems would be solved. The real problem is, there are too many out there that don’t want our problem solved. They like things the way they are. It is time we reclaim our country. IT IS TIME TO FLUSH OUR CONGRESS!

John Calder - July 19, 2011

I believe this will be the 14th debt extension. That’s proof they can’t “manage” a budget, and we must amendment our constitution. As to what would result if accomplished, most states have mandated balanced budgets. So we are already observing. It is tough medicine, but we need to take it!

Antonio J. Barlaam - July 19, 2011

I will like to add the following to the conversation.
What our discussion should be is to put the feet of our representatives to the fire and restrain them from selling and buyong votes.
If we would pass a balance budget amendment, politicians being the scoundrels that they are would amnipulate the system to raise taxes at will.
What we need to do first, is to is to remove and dismantle the FEDs. Second is to repeal the 16th and 17th amendment and third, restore our money to sound constitutional values of gold and silver.
As part of this we need to restrain our politicians from making Washington their play home. They should only go there when there is reason to do so and not on salary but expenses only.
As another component to balancing the budget, we need to take social security from the hands of the bureaucrats and privitize it. This is neithr social nor security, but a way for government to take and spend more money.
And final, we need to remove all these agencies, cabinets, bureaus, that have no constitutional reason for being at the federal level.
Sincerely

John Gavin - July 19, 2011

Jefferson did not mention balancing the budget in your reference. He mentioned only preventing borrowing. There is a huge difference. A balanced budget does not mean no debt. It simply means higher taxes pay the deficit.

Sovereignty is the right to create a nation’s money supply. It requires no lenders.

What do lenders give for the money they provide?

1. interest that requires high taxes. Unnecessary!
2. inflation because it is the only way to pay the interest with more money that is borrowed;
3. reduced asset values that diminish the benefits of savings, thereby discouraging savings and increasing borrowing; (a cycle with negative effects)
4. transfers the national wealth to international lenders. Also unnecessary.
5. Corrupts the political system when lenders become dictators of policy;
6. Cycles of boom and bust that become more severe with time and lead to major recessions; A serious problem whose management usually adds more debt and higher taxes.
7. Ultimately the lenders will own the nation.
8. Creates a too big to fail mentality and the need for bailouts that raise taxes even more;
9. Reduces the competition between banks for available money that benefits consumers with lower rates;
10. Increases global poverty.

All of the world’s nations need to terminate this faulty system and return to creating their own money supply without the unnecessary corrupting borrowing. The effects of excessive money creation are no different whether the money is borrowed or simply printed. It is the excess money created for political purposes that creates problems, so the lenders offer no fiscal benefits. Central banking functions can be performed by the national treasury with little cost to the taxpayer.

Gary Hoam - July 19, 2011

Can Congress or the President explain how we can borrow ourselves out of debt?

Sonja Thompson - July 19, 2011

I agree totally, and keeping the debt at 18% of GDP is still too high. It needs to be brought down, and I surely don’t want any loophole where they can raise the debt limit over the top for pet projects and people!! Raising taxes is off the table. The Congress needs to lower the business tax rate, for crying out loud; better yet, we could use a tax redo…..like the Fair Tax or more of a consumption tax. I mean really, our country is hijacked because of a ultra liberal president and Congress, and this must stop!! We must change the reward system for Congress, so we attract people who truly want to serve. Term limits, balanced budget, Fair Tax, and a reduction in all entitlement spending must be on the table!!

Brian - July 19, 2011

The BBA will not solve our current fiscal issues. It doesn’t take long for the mice to figure out the mousetrap, or declare some type of “emergency”. I forget who said it first, but Sunshine is the best sanitizer of corruption. Absolute Accountability must be assigned and a part of any BBA. Part of this might include a requirement for publicly posting the final legislation for 7 or more days so the backroom deals and promises are exposed to public scrutiny BEFORE being signed into law.
The problem with basing the BBA on a number such as % of GDP is that this figure can be manipulated by the whim of those in power (observe the CBO, OMB, and Dept of Treasury discrepancies in numbers of dollars actually spent!).
The Founding Fathers seemed to have an uncanny grasp of critical thinking in their time, and I fear that our current batch of politico’s (of both parties) are too beholden to short-term prospects. I’m not sure a BBA would be thought through carefully enough or would stand the test of time as has our Constitution and Bill of Rights.
Just some random thoughts on my part.

Janet - July 19, 2011

I teach a college level MIS course and make sure my students understand the history of computing hardware and software – how we got to where we are. It’s critical to understand basics, history of anything and everything.
Unfortunately, their knowledge of US History is abysmal – what they have not been taught is frightening. I do what I can but it’s kind of awkward – but they get some bits and pieces.
When I taught US History to 5th graders, we parsed the Preamble to the Constitution b/4 working our way through it. The students had to memorize it, recite it in front of the class. I’ve been told if I had that requirement today, I’d be stopped. Pathetic! But they knew it, they got it and hopefully it stayed with them.
Specific to balanced budget: Yes, but… it will take years to get through state legislatures; what about ramping up military spending if attacked and there’s no money in the budget? I can see Dems blocking any and all military expenditures….

Bruce Van Sweden - July 19, 2011

I do not understand the enthusiasm for a balanced budget amendment. I think that would just be a gift to the Democrats. That would justify them having to raise taxes to balance the budget. I would rather see a cap on spending at some percentage of GDP. If the congress wants to cut spending, then cut it. Amendments to the constitution are just a dangerous distraction.

Ellis W. Moses - July 19, 2011

While I concur with the need for a balanced budget amendment, one needs to recognize fully that our constitution has been and is presently being diregarded by most governmental actions. Legislatures pass unconstitutional laws, judges continue to legislate from the bench and presidents circumvent it through executive orders. This must cease for a balanced budget amendment to succeed.

Rob Manners - July 19, 2011

A balanced federal budget is such a reasonable, common sense proposal that anyone opposing it can not have America’s best interest at heart. I say this, knowing full well, that many conservative leaders will try to justify not supporting it, thinking like the Democrat elitests, that they know a better way.

Michael Davis - July 19, 2011

SMALLER GOV. SMALLER BUDGET!!!!
TO STIMULATE THE ECONOMY, DO NOT COLLECT TAXES FOR 3-THREE MONTHS!!!

Gene Wozniak - July 19, 2011

Without controlling the amount of debt we acquire we will never control the valuation of our dollar. The amount of debt is an inflation on our dollar. Look in history. 1973 new house 20K, new car 3K. Now we are looking at 200K and 30K. Same dollar much more debt. Fed and Treasury keep printing money and we keep seeing prices go up.

larry alsgaard - July 19, 2011

It is long over-due for a balanced budget. Reductions in government is vital to our survival. We must drastically reduce or eliminate many government programs starting with Obama Care!!!!!!!! I would like to see most in congress & the Whitehouse fired and start over using the Constitution(Founding Fathers) as our guide!!!!!!!!

D.F. Pesznecker - July 19, 2011

We, (senior citizens) did not cause the debt, the deficit, or any of the other fiscal problems. So, why
in God’s name can “they” require “us” to pay for it?
The funds in the Social Security Trust Fund are NOT
theirs to spend. It is “our”money. So don’t spend
it when YOU need it, (or think you do.)

Bob Maguire - July 19, 2011

Maybe I’m a bit naive, but why can’t anybody suggest a 10% across-the-board cut for this year and work from there?

Fred McFarlin - July 19, 2011

As Mr. Istook predicted,opponents are bleating negative. Very liberal influential Chris (Hollings?) from Maryland was on Fox this morning claiming the balanced budget part of the Republican sponsored “Cut/Cap/Balance” bill contains “goofy” voting requirements. Heritage – Please issue a detailed critique of the bill to provide us an accurate study of the truths.

Jeremy Pitcoff - July 19, 2011

Political and economic freedoms are essential and inseparable precepts of America’s brand of democracy; one cannot exist without the other. A people devoid of economic liberty will inevitably surrender all other liberties to those who control their finance. America’s Founding Fathers were acutely aware of this facet of the human condition and the direct correlation between economic and political freedom. Note the famous revolutionary mantra, “No taxation without representation.” Accordingly, the Founders drafted a federal constitution, layered with systems of checks and balances, granting sole discretionary economic power to what they termed the “People’s House” [of Representatives]. While Congress would be granted the power to tax, this authority would come with a caveat. To wit, “all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States.” To further evade the threat of federal concentration of economic power, the architects of the Constitution designed the second chamber of Congress, the U.S. Senate, to represent the interests of the states. In order to achieve this, the Founders ruled that Senators would be elected by the legislatures of the several states, thereby ensuring a hybrid government, both federal and republican in nature.
However, at the turn of the 20th century, an exceedingly militant “Progressive” movement swept the United States Congress, launching a series of government policies designed to fundamentally alter the guiding principles of the U.S. Constitution, culminating in the ratification of the 16th and 17th Amendments. By overriding the tax-uniformity clause in article 1, section 8 of the Constitution, the 16th Amendment served to open the doors to political class-warfare in America. The new power of Congress to lay and collect taxes on incomes “from whatever source derived, without apportionment” and “without regard to any census or enumeration,” has been utilized by nearly all subsequent Congresses to increase taxes and to force regulations upon minority factions of the American workforce, i.e., small business owners, investors and venture capitalists.
The 17th Amendment dealt the final blow to the Founders’ vision of an economically independent and politically free American populace. By changing its mode of election from legislative to popular vote, the U.S. Senate became little more than a longer-termed replica of the House. This would serve to further erode the Founders’ system of constitutional checks and balances. It did not take long for federal entities to usurp the powers that traditionally belonged to the states. With U.S. Senators no longer beholden to the governments of their respective states, national bodies began to seize control over state and local governments via federal regulatory commissions, i.e., the EPA, the FCC and the Departments of Energy and Education.
The 16th and 17th Amendments set in motion a century of near continuous expansion of America’s federal government, culminating in the Obama Administration’s $14.5 trillion national debt, a federal healthcare system that regulates and penalizes the inactivity of consumers, and an Environmental Protection Agency that utilizes its regulatory powers to initiate policies irrespective of the laws of Congress. With little recourse left to the states, and with a judicial process that is habitually slow, the American people are nearing a time of complete abdication of their rights.
Yet, just as constitutional amendments and misbegotten policies have led America down a dangerously unstable path, so too might new amendments and pragmatic policies bring it back on course. In the short term, a concerted effort by Congress to reform American entitlement spending, coupled with a series of tax-cut initiatives aimed at spurring and maintaining strong economic growth, will bring a sense of stability to our markets and help to commence the arduous task of eliminating the national debt. For the long term, however, more will be required.
A “balanced budget” amendment to our Constitution, banning Congress from passing a budget that spends more than it takes in, is essential to our nation’s future. To ensure that a wily Congress not raise taxes simply to conform to the amendment, a supermajority (2/3) vote would be required for all future increases on taxes. To add another layer of checks to the Balanced Budget Amendment, the President would be granted a line-item veto power. This would allow the chief executive to rescind certain features of the budgetary law without sacrificing the bill as a whole. While the President would be bound by law to ensure that the final product remain deficit neutral, the line item veto would help to reduce the backroom deals and party machinations that notoriously pervade the budget process.
A Balanced Budget Amendment, requiring a supermajority for tax increases and a line item veto contingency, would serve as America’s economic Bill of Rights. Our nation is at a crossroads. By preserving our economic liberties now, we will likewise ensure our political freedom for posterity.

Charlene Nielsen - July 19, 2011

I agree – and thanks for keeping historical accuracy at the forefront of the fight to preserving our Republic!

Bert Hammond - July 19, 2011

We have small number of elected officials who are realy public servants who will defend our costitution. The majority see themselves as a ruling class. They have way to much power when spending the peoples money. The balanced budget amendment is a godd start. However, if the majority of the people want government to provide all of thier wants and needs, they will continue to support the wrong kind of people. We the people need to decide what role the government should play in our lives and see that our elected officials will defend our freedoms.Bad human behavior in buisness, public service, or in our homes, requires more restrictions to our personal freedom to choose our own course. In the end we dictate what kind of country we will have, through our own personal choices.

Robert Thompson - July 19, 2011

Simply balancing the budget on the backs of tax payers will not fly. The Congress cannot be trusted with simple constraints. They behave like children and have to have rules of behavior like children. Balance the the budget, by all means, but constrain Congress with rules governing growth of the budget as well as HOW to balance the budget.

William Hooper - July 19, 2011

Sadly there is but one way to fix our fiscal recklessness, and that is for the entire system to crash. Every single individual or group that is receiving their federal largesse know the spending must come down but for reasons clear only to themselves their largesse must not be interrupted.

fx gilbert - July 19, 2011

I absolutely agree with Istook and pray that the congress is not in too big a hurry to research all facets of history for clearity of vission.

Robert McWain - July 19, 2011

JUST PASS IT !!!!!!!!!

Mara Collazo - July 19, 2011

I agree with Thomas Jefferson, the founding fathers were way ahead of their time having great insight regarding human nature, and how power corrupts.

Nancy Potter - July 19, 2011

Nothing will be accomplished with Jobs, the Debt Ceiling and America’s future until Mr. Obama is out of OUR White House. His veto pen and Executive Orders will stop any and all attempts to make America prosper.

What I would like is to ask this outside company that tracks all of the Houses Bills to give us taxpayers a full accounting on the 111th Congress. There are bills coming up now that were passed awhile ago and I for one would like to see what other skeletons are in the closet that we don’t know about yet and deserve to know.

Larry Frazier - July 19, 2011

Flat tax and eliminate the loop holes of greed! Also agree 2/3 congress to raise tax base.

R. Dyer - July 19, 2011

BBA, why bother, as we all know politicians will figure a way around it in a couple of cessions after it becomes part of the constitution. They could care less what the constitution says now. What we need is an amendment that limits congress be in session only 3 months. And they will only be paid for that 3 months. After that they will have to live on the economy they have created and put in place. It would be great to have the rascals live among us for 9 months out of the year…!
I think we all are being lead into a false feeling that a BBA will solve the nation’s fiscal problems. It will not, simply because there a no men/women with honor serving our country anymore. If the progressives have their way, the country is short lived. I am an old man and I am sorry to say I feel my grand children will not see the wonders of this country I have seen….!

Richard W Meyer - July 20, 2011

How about this, I could pass on a balanced budget if! Congress passed a law that ANY elected official that lied to the people or made unsubstantuated inuindo would be subject to immediate impeachment with no benifits.

Richard Patierno - July 20, 2011

I think this is a must we should push for it now.

J E Houser - July 20, 2011

Absolutely — BUT– The Constitution hardly exists today. We have endured a group of presidents, legislators, and judges who have “read” the Constitution as they wished it to read, or have ignored its very existence. Can we suppose it gives federal authority over our daily lives when that, Constitutionally, such was reserved to EACH individual state?

Al Billings - July 20, 2011

Afgree 100%.

Ronald E. Mohr - July 20, 2011

Our “leaders” have no idea what or how to exist on a BUDGET.!!!!!!!!!! These people are so far out of touch, they should be brought up on charges. I never heard of a job where the employees decide how much they make ,how much vacation they get, Free gymnasiums, free medical and dental. and God knows what else. Why are all these slackers even in office. Are there no really honest , God fearing Representatives out there?????????????
Ronald E. Mohr.

A Keene Byrd - July 21, 2011

In 1967 Senator Harry F. Byrd, Jr.(I-VA) tried to restrict President Lyndon B. Johnson’s request of $358Billion.His amendment failed by one(1) vote. Every budget year since then is an increase until we are now at $16,000,000,000,000 which is an ever increasing percentage of GDP. Sen. Ran Paul’s “Cut, Cap and Balance” returns this to 18-20% of GDP.
Citizens donot expect Washington to do for you what you must do yourself !!

Dennis Kolb Sr. - July 21, 2011

The current crop of the elected representatives in Washington,(the President and All of Congress), don’t Follow The Written Constitution Now!..And I’m pretty-sure None Would Adhere to the words of a B.B.A. if one were to be added?

Just-A-Thought: “If We Replaced All-of-Congress, and The President with Random-Names from Phone-Books; (all across America),HOW MANY OF THOSE THAT WOULD TO BE SLECTED, DO YOU THINK WOULD NEED A’ BALANCED BUDGET AMENDMENT’, TO ‘FORCE THEM’, TO BALANCE THE FEDERIAL BUDGET?”
THAT’S WHAT I THOUGHT!

Dennis Kolb Sr. - July 21, 2011

The Foxes Guarding the Hen-House would end-up wrting their Own” Final Version” of a B.B.A., to be Voted-On; So it would be filled with Many Exit-Doors for them To Avoid, A Balance The Budget!

Joseph D. Bedah - July 22, 2011

I believe the balance budget amendment will be one of the greatest accomplishment of the GOP if it passes the senates and goes to the states for retification. The FED has no control or limit and the wasteful spending is beyoung reason. If the states have such instrument in place I belive it will be a good idea for the FED to have such limit.

Richard Zabonick - July 22, 2011

Most of todays polititions cannot be trusted to follow the will of the people. They know what history tells us but continue to vote for their own economic intersts. A balanced budget would force them to limit the spending to a % on the GDP.

Lewis - July 23, 2011

I believe is in trouble. Government has to much power. The government has to many perks that they should pay with their own money not the peoples. Also, the Senate and the House should have limited time in office just like the Presidents. They should not be able to make a career off the people. Taxes should not be raised the government should be cut down and let the people grow the economy. Ilegal aliens need to go home and not be given any of our privileges that us,US citizens, earned. Social Security, Medicare, etc, should only be for those citizens that paid in and worked hard. Those US citizens who are able to work get taken off gov’t aid and GO WORK. People got to stop thinking they can do whatever makes them feel good. All people need rules to live by and the BIBLE is the best rule book in the world. We can see from history that we don’t go by the rules the world seems to be turned upside down. The United States of America needs badly to obey Gods and our Fore fathers rules.

Bruce Fairchild - July 23, 2011

Generally I agree with the lead editorials in the Wall Street Journal, and I am disturbed by their view a couple days ago that a balanced budget amendment will be subject to a myriad of judicial interpretations. I still favor such an amendment, but is there any way the amendment can be drafted to limit this possibility?

Casey Carlton - July 29, 2011

One certainty in an uncertain world is that progressives, liberals, communists (take your pick) will trot out the same arguments and subterfuges they had at the beginning of past efforts to pass an amendment that would curb their spending. They will use every means at their disposal to try to kill a balanced budget amendment.

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