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What Happened to the 2011 Balanced Budget Amendment?

If you are like most Americans you remember much ado about Republicans who voted for an increase in the debt ceiling (I still maintain, a huge mistake) in exchange for a chance to vote on a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution before the end of the year.  Well – how did that turn out?

What Happened to the 2011 Balanced Budget Amendment?

Remember the epic Balanced Budget Amendment that was to be voted on before the end of the year?  The one that the “tea party hobbits” wanted?

On November 18th, just after the national debt crossed the $15,000,000,000,000 mark, a  roll call vote failed to get the required 2/3 majority in the House.  Unless you were paying very close attention it probably escaped your notice.  For some reason Republicans didn’t want to make a big deal out of it, and the media didn’t find it interesting enough to put in the spotlight.  Maybe everyone knew it was justWashingtongoing through the motions.  Republicans had used the promise of a balanced budget amendment as their cover for increasing the debt limit earlier, and now nobody really cared whether it passed or not.  After all, we were told, it would have died in the Senate.

The Balanced Budget Amendment was rotten anyway

There were a few good points, but if you are going to amend the Constitution you need to do it right and not just settle.  The amendment required the President to submit a balanced budget, and it did allow an exemption if we were at war.  But, if 2/3 of Congress approved, the amendment allowed the budget to be balanced with a tax hike.  Simply let Democrats, or big government Republicans, get a majority and that hurtle would barely be a speed bump.

Republicans who voted to raise the debt limit earlier certainly felt they had to vote for the amendment as cover, whether they liked it or not.  To their credit, a handful of true conservatives voted against the resolution, including two of my favorites – Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin and Louie Gohmert, R-Texas.  Their main complaint was that it allowed the budget to be balanced by raising taxes.  Representative Gohmert said that given the choice he would rather have a cap on spending.  Paul Ryan had pushed for a tougher version of the amendment that would have also set tight caps on annual spending.  Maybe in 2012 we can elect Representatives who will follow their lead and we can get something that conservatives can be proud of.

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