Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Balanced Budget Amendment

I wrote the following in response to a Wall Street Journal Article: 

The Fiscal Pledge We Need: Cut, Cap, Balance

Congress has never failed to increase the debt limit. 

This makes having a debt limit functionally useless.

My fear of a constitutional amendment requiring a "balanced" budget stems from the fact that the historically the Democrats have controlled congress for most of the last 60+ years.  If Democrats are required by law to balance the budget, they will do so on the backs of the citizens.  No, I don't think now is the time to force a balanced budget amendment.  I do believe we must do the first two items on the list NOW.  However, I think there are several even more fundamental problems with congress. 

1) Term Limits.  The power of being a member of congress appears to be too much of a high for most of the members.  Once term limits are in place (6-terms as congressman, 2 as senator, but no more than 12 years for any combination) the heavy lifting can proceed, with full knowledge that despite their votes they can see the end of their political careers from their very first day in office.  Serving in congress was once considered a sacrifice that a person felt compelled to do out of a sense of duty to one’s country.  Now it is a get rich slowly scheme, where they spend their entire careers running for office and consolidating power & influence so that if they ever get booted from office, they’ll land in a nice cushy position with a favored constituent.

2) Abolish the income tax.  Everyone knows that you get less of what you tax and more of what you don't.  Everyone (mostly) also knows people ought to work and be productive.  So, why do we tax people's labor?  Taxes ought to be collected on what individuals spend.  Instead of a mammoth bureaucracy to police 330 million individuals, you would collect taxes from 10's of millions of businesses, most of which already have a tax collection/payment process in place because of state taxes.  The largest benefit of the system is not even the system itself.  It is the fact that congress would have no power to create special classes of people or provide special benefits for particular industries, thereby stripping most of their power.  This, in effect, neuters congress. 

3) Balanced Budget Amendment.  Now you can pass a balanced budget amendment because when spending gets out of control, then congress would have to sell increasing a tax on every individual, rather than only the current remaining 45% or so that still pay taxes.  This makes cutting spending the easier route to balance a budget.  

These three items will ensure the U.S.A., as founded in 1776 will continue to exist for another couple centuries.

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