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We all know the circumstances that have led to our dire fiscal straits. The federal government led by its liberal purveyors of the preceding 110th Congress, have been on a spending bender the likes of which has left Charlie Sheen in awe. This compulsive nature of spending is so addictive, that the mere mention of fiscal austerity as an expedient sends liberals into withdrawals and convulsions.
Democrats on Capitol Hill, eager to demagogue the issue have been injecting dubious insights into the debate over spending. Senator Barbara Boxer went as far to claim that Jacobin Republicans are planning to thrust Sesame Street’s Elmo into the guillotine. While Congressman Ed Markey deduced that Republican spending cuts are an assault on big bird.
Much of this fear mongering would be averted if we simply were able to pass an all-encompassing balanced budget amendment. Our Founders understood the fixed basis of human nature which had the potential for greatness, but also maintained elements of vindictive, rapacious and coercive behavior. These same founders especially understood the unquenchable thirst to meddle by self-aggrandizing and paternalistic politicians. As James Madison wrote in Federalist 51:
“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.”
Unrestrained federal spending, the likes of which we have seen over the last 4 years, can be highly corrosive. Not only does it have the potential to eviscerate potential prosperity for future generations, but it harms the implementation of viable and efficacious federal programs.
The spending binge will result in confiscatory tax increases and drastic cuts, which will harm all programs, but if there were a balanced budget amendment then politicians would be forced to restrain spending and make judicious use of federal funds and favored programs.
Federal spending as a percentage of GDP would be limited to 18 percent. Also, all major changes such as increases in spending, raising the debt limit or to run a prolonged deficit would have to be passed through a two-thirds majority of both houses. This encompasses the bulk of Senator Mike Lee’s balanced budget amendment proposal and a good benchmark on which to proceed.
This country is an exemplar of human freedom and constitutional democracy. We have released human freedom and innovation the likes of which has never been seen before. But as all democracies progress, it is inevitable that a segment of the population will vote itself big government lollipops with ever indulging politicians willing to dole them out. This process becomes inherently unsustainable.
Spending of this magnitude, combined with tremendous unfunded liabilities of our welfare state endangers the present, past and future of our republic. Circumstances of our time require decisive actions and new internal and external controls on government are urgently needed. Let us pass a balanced budget amendment that will ensure that this the last bastion of freedom, prosperity and creativity will long endure.