There is at least one, if not several, petitions being circulated in Washington to get congressmen to pledge to support a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. I don’t know how many have signed, but it is far away from
50% of the members. The elusive balanced budge amendment will remain a pie in the sky. At least for now.
What is wrong with a balanced budget amendment? Most states have one in their constitutions, and so far they seem to work out. But the states have an advantage the federal government doesn’t. If they get themselves into financial
trouble, they can usually count on the feds for a loan or a bail out. The federal government doesn’t have anyone to bail it out if it gets into financial trouble. And therein lies the rub.
The is one glaring problem about a balanced budget amendment for the federal government will necessarily have to include loop holes and escape clauses in case of unforeseen emergencies, such as war, a financial collapse, or any
unknown unknown that might arise.
The Gramm–Rudman–Hollings Balanced Budget Act of 1985 was quickly attacked in the courts and in the legislature. After some initial success it gradually faded in as holes and exceptions caused it to become ineffective.
Like the balanced budge law, a Constitutional amendment will be written with escape clauses. Whether or not escape clauses are necessary can be debated, but there can be little doubt they will be included. And like what happened with the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings law, these escape clauses will be used and expanded until the amendment becomes ineffective.
Thus a promise to vote for a balanced budge amendment is meaningless. In the very small chance such an amendment is passed, it will have little effect on the out of control growth of government. Like all government plans to cut spending, the balanced budget amendment is nothing but smoke and mirrors.