The Balanced Budget Amendment
The balanced budget amendment failed in the Senate on March 4, 1997, by one vote -- the same margin of failure as during the 104th Congress. Though Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) has predicted it may come up for another vote in this Congress, for the time being the idea is dead. There is no vote scheduled in the House, which easily passed the amendement in the 104th Congress.
A GOP Favorite The proposed balanced budget constitutional amendment is related to but distinct from the debate over President Clinton's budget proposal. The amendment is favored by most Republicans and opposed by most Democrats, including the president. Requiring a two-thirds vote from Congress, enough Democrats favored the proposal to give it a fighting shot at passage in the 105th Congress. If approved by Congress, a balanced budget amendment wouldn't require presidential signature but would need to be approved by three-fourths of the states.
The issue fostered some of the sharpest exchanges between Washington leaders of the new year. Following Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin's testimony before a Senate panel, Sen. Lott upbraided Rubin for being "hysterical," adding, "How they handle this issue will affect our ability to work on other issues."
The premise of the balanced budget amendment is simple. By law, the federal government would be required not to spend more than it receives in revenues. The requirement could be waived, however, by a three-fifths vote of Congress. Current versions of the amendment also require a three-fifths majority to raise taxes.
Clinton and many Democrats contend the amendment would put the federal government in a fiscal straightjacket that could have disastrous effects during recessions , when revenues could fall sharply. One effect, they suggest, could be the impoundment of Social Security checks. They also object to requiring a super-majority to raise taxes.
Republicans say those fears are overblown and argue that having piled up a trillion-dollar debt, lawmakers' profligacy can only be restrained by an amendment. They point out most states are required to balance their budgets. Some Democrats, sympathetic to the balanced budget, have suggested taking Social Security off budget to reduce that possibility, an idea most Republicans oppose.
Some Democrats, sympathetic to the balanced budget, have suggested taking Social Security off budget to reduce that possibility, an idea most Republicans oppose.
Oldtimer said:Some Democrats, sympathetic to the balanced budget, have suggested taking Social Security off budget to reduce that possibility, an idea most Republicans oppose.
It would/still will never pass until they take SSI out of the picture and look at continued alternatives of funding it- (which it is funded for til 2030 unless the government takes more)... Most seniors and folks that payed into it for 40-50 years believe it is a commitment the government made to them...And they will not support taking that commitment from them...
Seniors support SSI reform to an extent-- but think those long term payers should not be defaulted on...And many oppose the idea of mandating investments into the capitalist system/stock market-- as they saw what happened to their very plump retirement accounts with Bush asleep at the wheel- leading to the Bush Bust...They now have to work as Walmart Greeters to pay their bills...
And without the senior vote- a candidate or party can not win...
Preserves the existing Social Security program for those 55 or older.
Offers workers under 55 the option of investing over one third of their current Social Security taxes into personal retirement accounts, similar to the Thrift Savings Plan available to Federal employees. Includes a property right so they can pass on these assets to their heirs, and a guarantee that individuals will not lose a dollar they contribute to their accounts, even after inflation.
Makes the program permanently solvent – according to the Congressional Budget Office [CBO] – by combining a more realistic measure of growth in Social Security’s initial benefits, with an eventual modernization of the retirement age.
Balanced Budget Amendment Injected Into Debt Ceiling Fight
WASHINGTON — Congressional Republicans are rallying behind a long-shot bid for a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget.
Right in the middle of their brawl with President Barack Obama over extending the debt ceiling and hacking trillions from projected deficits, GOP leaders are forcing House and Senate debates next week over similar amendments requiring the budget to be balanced, starting no sooner than five years from now. Reflecting tea party clout,
Constitutional amendments require two-thirds majorities to clear each chamber of Congress, meaning it will be difficult for the GOP to prevail. Republicans hope the debate will highlight their commitment to smaller government
"It certainly will show who's really serious about trying to get spending under control and who isn't," said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, a leading sponsor of the Senate amendment, which is backed by all 47 Republican senators. "If that's all it accomplishes, it will be a good thing."
Some GOP lawmakers want to go further, saying that unless Congress first approves a balanced budget amendment, they won't vote to increase the $14.3 trillion ceiling on federal borrowing.
Republicans say the amendment would force lawmakers to confront growing federal deficits expected to easily exceed $1 trillion once again this year. And, they say, it would make them do it in a fiscally responsible way by requiring approval by two-thirds of the House and Senate to raise taxes or to let federal spending exceed 18 percent of the overall economy, which this year is about $15 trillion.
"The point is to live within your means," said Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., chief sponsor of the leading House version.
Goodlatte's balanced budget amendment has 133 co-sponsors, nearly all of them Republicans, according to the congressional database. A less stringent version by Goodlatte that is identical to one that passed the House in 1995 – without this year's restrictions on tax increases and spending – had 221 co-sponsors.
Constitutional amendments do not need the president's signature. Once they pass Congress, they must be approved by three-quarters of the states.