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Principles & Interest

For at least the last two decades Republicans in Congress have been advocating strongly for a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

A balanced budget amendment would require the US Government to never spend more money than it collects in revenues. If revenue collection drops then spending must drop, too, to keep the budget balanced. And if the government wants to spend more money, then it has to raise that money somehow, in taxes or bonds or whatever.

We could argue about whether or not that's a good thing for a national government -- and I happen to believe a balanced budget requirement is an unnecessary restriction -- but then we'd break down into arguing about Keynesian vs. classical economics, and that's not the point here.

The point here is that Congressional Republicans love the idea of a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution, because they talk constantly about fiscal and financial responsibility.

In 1995, after Republicans took control of Congress with their 1994 Republican Revolution, the House passed (and the Senate almost passed) such a balanced budget constitutional amendment.

Our current Republicans in Congress, Representative Doug Lamborn and Senator Cory Gardner, have each shown their support for such a balanced budget amendment.

In 2012, Doug Lamborn wrote an editorial for the Gazette, arguing for the need of a balanced budget amendment.

And Cory Gardner has sponsored or co-sponsored multiple balanced budget amendment bills during his time in Congress.

Despite these various efforts, however, the U.S. Constitution still does not have a balanced budget amendment.

But we do have the next best thing: Public Law 111-139.

This law -- adopted originally in 1985, then strengthened by Democrats in 2010 -- requires any new spending approved by Congress to be fully paid for by new revenue increases. If the new spending is not fully funded by new revenue, then it must be paid for by spending cuts in discretionary areas -- to keep the budget balanced.

Public Law 111-139 is a balanced budget law.

So, balanced-budget loving Congressional Republicans should support it, or at least not try to undermine it, right?


Over the last week, both of our balanced-budget loving Congressional Republicans, Lamborn and Gardner, voted to support the disastrous Tax Reform bill (H.R. 1) which would grow American debt and deficit by almost $1.5 trillion over the next ten years. Vote record here:

House vote here: http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2017/roll699.xml

Senate vote here: https://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=115&session=1&vote=00323

President Trump signed the bad bill into law on December 22. See his remarks upon doing the deed here.

Now, this disastrous tax bill, because it increased debt without increasing revenues, triggered the automatic discretionary spending cuts required by Public Law 111-139.

So our Congressional Republicans, being the principled balanced-budget men that they are, passed a second bill, waiving the balanced-budget requirement -- so they could spend without paying for it, growing the debt and deficit as they've always abhorred.

A small section attached to the end of "and other purposes" section of this Defense Spending Act waives away the spending cuts required by Public Law 111-139.

Although he should have opposed this on principle, Doug Lamborn voted for it.

And although he should have opposed it on principle, Cory Gardner voted for it, too.

President Trump signed the waiver into law.

President Trump failed to mention, in his remarks, how he was increasing the debt and deficit and simultaneously waiving away the legal requirements to balance the budget.

In fact, none of the balanced-budget loving Congressional Republicans mentioned this fact when they spoke glowingly of how awesome this disastrous tax bill is.

Which is why I thought I'd mention it here.

The Congressional Republican principles of fiscal and financial responsibility, of balanced budgets and all that, disappeared immediately when they were challenged by a disastrous tax reform bill and various votes, which the Congressional Republicans then started praising because it supported their other (their real) interests: starving the government beast and rewarding already wealthy people with more money.

Their principles disappeared under their interests -- which, in money terms, is exactly what they oppose.

Oh, the irony.

Ryan Macoubrie is the Chair of the El Paso County Young Democrats

332 W. Bijou St., #101, Colorado Springs
719.473.8713 | epcdems@gmail.com
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