"Conservatives intentionally destroyed the remnants of the implicit balanced
budget constraint in the 1970s so they could cut taxes without having to cut
spending at the same time....they concocted a theory, “starve the
beast,” to maintain a fig leaf of fiscal responsibility.Under
this theory, deficits are intentionally created by tax cuts, which puts
political pressure on Congress to cut spending. Thus, cutting taxes without
cutting spending became the epitome of conservative fiscal policy.
Unfortunately, it didn’t work.We gave starve-the-beast theory
a test during the Reagan administration, but, when push came to shove, Reagan
was always willing to raise taxes rather than allow deficits to get out of
control.We gave starve-the-beast theory another test during the H.W.
Bush and Clinton administrations. They both raised taxes and, according to the
theory, this should have caused spending to rise, because tax increases feed the
beast. But they didn’t. Spending as a share of GDP fell to 18.2% in 2000
from 22.3% in 1991, according to the CBO.Another test happened
during the Bush administration. Taxes were slashed, but spending rose
My balanced budget amendment would read something like this "Don't
spend money you don't have and pay off your debts."
From the article:"The political class is incorrigible because it
is composed of — let us say the worst — human beings. They respond
to incentives of self-interest. Their acquisitiveness is not for money but for
the currency of power, which they act to retain and enlarge. This class can be
constrained, if at all, not by exhorting them to become disinterested but by
binding them with a constitutional amendment."If that is true
(and I do not believe it to be true of all of our elected officials) then there
is no hope. No piece of paper would constrain such men and women. Our cause is
procuradorfiscal:"In BizarroWorld, maybe."It's called reality. Analyses of the debt incurred since 2009
point to two primary sources: 1) Bush's tax cuts, and 2)
Bush's credit-card wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.Any politician
who voted for the tax cuts and for the unfunded wars, and who now thumps their
chest about a balanced budget amendment, deserves to arrested on a charge of
@procuradorfiscal"In BizarroWorld, maybe."2009, a Bush
fiscal year (the budget period for 2009 starts Oct. 2008), though influenced by
Obama, had a deficit of 1.4 trillion. 2012 had a deficit of 1.1 trillion. This
year we're projected (though the projection assumes the sequester or
similar levels of cuts will actually occur) to have a deficit below 1 trillion.
We actually currently have the fastest 3 year annual deficit reduction at any
point since the post WWII deescalation.
Re: ". . . actual budget trends and federal budgets as a % of GDP prove that
President Obama has done a far better job at being a fiscal conservative . . .
."In BizarroWorld, maybe.National debt is now above
$16.4T -- 100% of GDP. More than $5T of that is attributable to the President
and his deranged spending policy.And, it'll only get worse,
since 40% of the regime's current spending is borrowed. Estimates range as
high as $28T by the end of the second regime.And remember, this is
just the phony figure politicians will admit to. Add in unfunded liabilities --
promises Congress has made, but has yet to fund -- and we're already
somewhere north of $100T, 6 years of GDP.Our debt has been nowhere
near that since FDR and WWII, when it was a measly $259B. Even that took us 30
years to crawl out from under.It'll be interesting to hear your
explanation of how that shows the President has "done a far better job at
being a fiscal conservative" than Republicans for the last 50 years.
I could get behind it if it is carefully drafted to allow exceptions for
economic or political crises. To do otherwise is to "lose" every major
American war, all of which have relied on deficit spending. And you don't
have to be a Keynesian to understand the need to inject short-term liquidity
into a market that's contracting sharply.
Republicans don't really want a BB amendment. They just talk about it. It
would restrict their capacity to make war. Mike Lee is blowing smoke: the minute
the GOP needs a war to satisfy its vast military-industrial base, the BB goes
out the window. A permanent state of war means no BB ever.
This column is simply more proof, as if more were necessary, that Mr. Will well
and truly is no longer the the sensible voice of sensible conservatism.Fiscal discipline and deficit control are great goals. The actual budget
trends and federal budgets as a % of GDP prove that President Obama has done a
far better job at being a fiscal conservative than any Republican president in
50 years. You know perfectly well that the instant anyone attempts
to create a balanced budget that leaves us with anything resembling a
functioning nation they face an inescapable need for steep cuts to defense
spending, steep cuts to myriad federal and state programs that are hugely and
justifiably popular with the public, and the need to significantly increase
revenues. Tell you what - when George Will offers his vision of a
balanced budget, THEN I'll take him seriously. Until then,
however, his decline into the political equivalent of "the grumpy old guy
next door who sits on his front porch and shouts threats at kids walking past
his house" continues unabated.
Any elementary school graduate knows there are two ways to balance a budget:
Raise taxes, or, reduce spending. So, what would an amendment to the
constitution accomplish? A license for Congress to raise taxes each time they
fail to control spending! Sematpr Lee from Utah proposes an amendment that
would limit spending to a percentage of the GDP.. I'd like to see that
proposal before endorsing any "Balanced Budget" amendment.
Re: "Suppose Proc's dream came true . . . he would be the one to tell
Grandma she could come and live with his family now . . . ?"So,
our budget woes are Grandma's fault? She's the one standing in the way
of fiscal sanity?I'll bet your Grandma would be embarrassed for
Re: "Look at which party has actually spent the most historically. Hint:
It's not the ones with the donkey."Even if that were true
-- which it decidedly is not -- so what?By this analysis, each side
would get a pass on deranged spending until its deranged spending level
surpasses the deranged spending levels of the other.That's not
a valid budgeting strategy.And, every proposal for a balanced budget
amendment I've seen includes a clause for emergency, wartime spending.Of course that would be abused by committed tax-and-spend liberals, but,
at least it's a start.
It's said that the sequester would cost us a million jobs and slow the
recovery. The sequester is only about 1/4 the deficit. We want to do that x4? Do
you want us to enter a depression?
Suppose Proc's dream came true, and an amendment mandating a balanced
budget was passed. Does that mean he would be the one to tell Grandma she could
come and live with his family now, or would he be the one to tell her that
he'd pay all her medical bills from now on?
No Republican who supports a balanced budgetamendment has actually produced a
sample budget that would comply with its terms. The Ryan budget certainly
doesn't. When I see a budget that complies, I'll start taking these
proposals seriously. Until it's just a show to entertain the low
The most pressing need for a Constitutional amendment would be:Government payments to individual citizens, such as but not limited to, Social
Security, wages, pensions, health care, and other basic human needs shall be
paid prior to any payments to business, financial or other organized groups.
Kent DeForest is right; a constitutional amendment would preclude the
possibility of stimulative spending in times of recession. I would add that the
track record of deficit spending is quite remarkable.Through deficit
spending, the North defeated the South in the Civil War, ending slavery forever.
Through deficit spending, the New Deal mitigated the worst aspects of the
Great Depression and allowed our economy to recover.Through deficit
spending, we defeated Hitler. In times of national emergency, the federal
government needs to have the power to borrow and spend.
We constantly hear the GOP -- and our own Uncle Orrin -- calling for a balanced
budget amendment. But when they have the chance, what do they do?Nothing.Why?Because it would cramp their spending
sprees. Look at which party has actually spent the most historically.Hint: It's not the ones with the donkey.
Those who get all the benefits are constantly duped by those who are the
ultimate power seekers, the government leaders (especially the chief executive),
who pretend to be benevolent, but are actually just trying garner all the power
to themselves. Having encountered these serfs, who take crumbs from
the government and think it is kindness, I don't know how we can ever get
non-emperor types elected without mass anesthesia.
Re: "This [politician/bureaucrat] class can be constrained, if at all, not
by exhorting them to become disinterested but by binding them with a
constitutional amendment."Hear, hear![with apologies
to William F. Buckley] Real Americans would sooner live in a society governed by
the first 535 names in the telephone directory than in a society governed by the
535 members Congress. Liberal politicians have demonstrated time and time again,
they cannot be trusted with the Nation's purse strings.Not even
the force of law may be enough, but, at least, it's a start.
Will makes a few good points here. Unfortunately, he omits the most significant
reason why a balanced budget amendment is a terrible idea: In times of
recession, the government needs to step in with spending and stimulus to prevent
the recession from going into a death spiral and ending up in a full-blown
depression. A balanced-budget amendment would prevent such government
intervention. And a balanced-budget amendment that allows such exceptions is, as
the Republican hardliners would put it, a BBAINO.Balancing a budget
is crucial for a business. But for a government that has to watch over the
health of an entire economy? Hardly. Come back to reality, George.