The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Balanced Budget Amendment Is A Pyle Of S. . .urprise

Posted on | August 4, 2011 | 23 Comments

by Smitty

Insty points to a devastating Bloomberg piece:

So the balanced-budget amendment, whatever its political popularity, possesses the following difficulties: It is poorly written and easy to circumvent; it invites judicial control of the appropriations process; and it pretends to know more than we can confidently say we do about how the economy works.

Why do we have to tell the government to manage money responsibly? Prudence in the management of the public fisc should go without saying. The fact that we have to try to be explicit about prudence is a failure. The fact that some, even the GOP leadership, think an explicit failure can succeed is downright worrisome. The fact that elected officials don’t seem to notice the downright worrisome aspect is utterly terrifying.

The problem is not an output problem. The government knows how to spend, yet the spending is where the political theater keeps the action focused. No, the problem is on the input side. If the economy is a receiver, then the government is a loudspeaker with insufficient input impedance. Maybe the loudspeaker is shorted, sitting in a puddle. If we don’t constrain the federal government’s ability to draw current, it will continue to draw current, until the receiver, currently hot to the touch, lets all the smoke out.

Thus, we can pass an Amendment a year from now until that receiver is a Class C fire, the economy is reduced to barter, and BHO is gibbering “Bushbushbushbush. . .” in the I-love-me jacket, and it won’t mean a thing.

Private Pyle is relatively serious, compared to the political theater passing itself for leadership in DC.


23 Responses to “Balanced Budget Amendment Is A Pyle Of S. . .urprise”

  1. Jack Woodward
    August 4th, 2011 @ 11:57 pm

    That’s why repealing the 17th Amendment is a better solution.  Fifty state legislatures, dem or repub, will keep their senators on a short leash regarding money flowing from their states to the feds.  The state legislatures will begrudge every penny sent to DC.  Senators will no longer be the loose cannons they are today; if their legislature is not happy, the Senator quickly
     will be an ex-Senator.

    I encourage you to walk through the various scenarios involving Senators:  Budget, Supreme Court nominees, etc, the way things work today vs the way they would work if the Senators had to keep their legislatures happy.  It’s not a matter of high-minded statesmanship, it’s raw greed and self-interest with checks and balances.

  2. Anonymous
    August 5th, 2011 @ 12:04 am

    True.  This admin can only play one tune.  It must smarten up quickly and start relaxing regs immediately.  Start issuing drilling permits.  Relax the EPA regs on emissions.  Cut the regs that says there needs to be 27 different blends of gasoline for “smog”.  Anything and everything. Get the hell out of the way of this economy and let capitalism do what it does best, flow directly to the areas most needed without any government intervention.

  3. The Cob
    August 5th, 2011 @ 1:25 am

    The BBA also creates a permanent spending FLOOR at 18% of GDP. Repealing the income tax would be my preferred method for changing the tax and spend balance of power.

  4. Anonymous
    August 5th, 2011 @ 2:10 am

    Why half measures? Abolish the EPA, rescind ALL geographic limits to oil, gas, and coal exploitation.

  5. Adjoran
    August 5th, 2011 @ 6:08 am

    The equity markets are upset at manufacturing numbers and outlook, sluggish growth, and European debt crises.  The debt ceiling agreement has nothing to do with this meltdown.

    For proof, check the bond market.  US paper is going UP in price, we are paying LOWER interest than we were before the deal.  The bond market is over four times larger than equities; if there was concern about the debt deal, our interest yields would be rising.

  6. Adjoran
    August 5th, 2011 @ 6:12 am

    The problem I’ve always had with the BBA is this:  how can it be that 2/3 of both House and Senate recognize the need to balance the budget, but simple majorities of House and Senate can’t seem to pass one?

    Ever hear of the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act?  It’s still the law of the land, never been repealed.  It’s anti-deficit provisions were followed strictly until they became too difficult to enforce; since then it has just been ignored.

    There is no Magic Fairy Dust that will force Congress to abide by a BBA but cannot force it to abide by Gramm-Rudman.

  7. McGehee
    August 5th, 2011 @ 2:10 pm

    how can it be that 2/3 of both House and Senate recognize the need to balance the budget, but simple majorities of House and Senate can’t seem to pass one?

    They’ve never been able to agree on what a balanced budget should contain.

    Both sides think a constitutional requirement will somehow force the other to see things their way. In fact there would be a period of cloakroom war that would make the still-ongoing Wisconsin business look like a game of pattycake — but once one side or the other prevails, the result would be all but set in stone.

    As for Gramm-Rudman, it’s a statute. Congress can choose to ignore it because past congresses cannot bind future ones. A constitutional amendment can only be ignored with the connivance of the judiciary.

  8. Anonymous
    August 5th, 2011 @ 4:35 pm

    Quite right, I read in Bloomberg’s I think, that we sold $20 Billion in ten day bonds for 0% interest this week. I presume the buyers just want some place where $20 Billion would still be $20 Billion in ten days while they hope for something better than nothing to come along.

  9. Bob Belvedere
    August 5th, 2011 @ 5:07 pm

    Gentlemen, we can batter about good [and truthful] reasons all day, but, at the root of each and every single one of them is: UNCERTAINTY.

  10. Bob Belvedere
    August 5th, 2011 @ 5:22 pm

    A constitutional amendment can only be ignored with the connivance of the judiciary.

    Need I remind you of a very famous incident wherein President Andrew Jackson said: ‘[Chief Justice] John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it!’  The SCOTUS has no army, no police force.

    We can pass the BBA, but it will mean nothing because, as John Adams warned us:

    While our country remains untainted with the principles and manners which are now producing desolation in so many parts of the world; while she continues sincere, and incapable of insidious and impious policy, we shall have the strongest reason to rejoice in the local destination assigned us by Providence. But should the people of America once become capable of that deep simulation towards one another, and towards foreign nations, which assumes the language of justice and moderation, while it is practising iniquity and extravagance, and displays in the most captivating manner the charming pictures of candour, frankness, and sincerity, while it is rioting in rapine and insolence, this country will be the most miserable habitation in the world. Because we have no government, armed with power, capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

    We are now the other kind of people.

    A New Great Awakening to civic virtue is necessary and that can only come from a return to Western Morality, an understanding that one must rise above one’s base instincts because that is necessary for a nation to remain free.

  11. Anonymous
    August 5th, 2011 @ 6:19 pm

    I submit that there is certainty and uncertainty in roughly equal measure. Not knowing how bad or exactly what way policies will be bad isn’t the the same as not knowing things will get worse.

  12. Anonymous
    August 5th, 2011 @ 6:21 pm

    I’m certain Mr Adams is correct.

  13. On A Balanced Budget Amendment And Civic Virture « The Camp Of The Saints
    August 5th, 2011 @ 2:42 pm

    […] Smitty, via Instapundit, comes a devastating [and I think fatal] blow to the cause of the BBA from […]

  14. Bob Belvedere
    August 5th, 2011 @ 6:45 pm

    He’s tan, he’s rested, he’s ready.

    Thanks, Adobe.

  15. Bob Belvedere
    August 5th, 2011 @ 6:47 pm

    True, Adobe, but underneath that certainty that things will get worse is the blackness of uncretainty of how bad they’ll get.

  16. Bob Belvedere
    August 5th, 2011 @ 7:04 pm

    Wherein I flesh out my comments at length, if you’re interested [and link back to Smitty]:
    On A Balanced Budget Amendment And Civic Virture

  17. McGehee
    August 5th, 2011 @ 7:07 pm

    Adjoran and I are talking about Congress, not the President.

    Adjoran’s point appeared to be that it would be just as easy for Congress to ignore the BBA as it has been for Congress to ignore Gramm-Rudman. You haven’t refuted my counter-argument because you never addressed it.

    If anything, your points argue that Congress would need support from more than just the judiciary to ignore a constitutional amendment — it would also need the connivance of the President.

    I’m in a crabby mood and disinclined to cut even a good friend any slack right now.

  18. Anonymous
    August 5th, 2011 @ 8:41 pm

    Agreed.  I want all the alphabet soup 1, 2, 3, and 4 letter departments shutdown if they are not supported in the Constitution.  Shut them all down!