By Simon Johnson
Some House and Senate Republicans have worked hard to ensure that a “balanced budget” constitutional amendment be included in the mix of policies under consideration to address longer-run fiscal issues in the United States. Such an amendment is presented as way to keep spending and deficits under control, by requiring that federal spending not exceed revenues.
But there are three main problems with this potential approach as it is currently articulated.
The first issue, which has been forcefully identified by Bruce Bartlett, is that there is no way to make this amendment work in practice. The language currently proposed would, as part of the “balance”, limit federal government spending to 18 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), subject only to a potential override by a 2/3 majority in both houses of Congress. On the table, in effect, is a balanced budget amendment with a spending cap. Continue reading “Would A Balanced Budget Amendment Make Sense?”