Balanced Budget Con Game

When politicians start talking about amending the constitution to require a balanced budget, they're telling you two things.

They have no courage and they think you're stupid.

What they really want is the issue and none of the responsibility that goes with balancing the budget. Republicans have majorities in Congress and could pass a balanced budget today if they were serious.  And if the President vetoes it, they have the issue they're looking for.

Instead they passed an unrealistic, veto-bait budget this week that makes draconian cuts in social programs, particularly Medicare and food stamps, to pay for big boosts in defense spending, and they're touting it as a path to a balanced budget in a decade. 

Meanwhile, five of Republican presidential contenders so far this year have called for the balanced budget amendment (BBA) and more are sure to follow. They're kicking the proverbial can down the road because at best it will be several years before the amendment could be ratified and go into effect.

All that instead of trying to pass a realistic balanced budget that could get bipartisan support and a presidential signature, but that would call for making too many difficult decisions all around, like raising taxes and cutting spending on favored programs, so it is easier just to demagogue the issue.

If those presidential wannabes would stop to think about what they're trying to do, they would understand they'd be tying their own hands if lightning strikes and plops them into the Oval Office. 

It's a cop-out. The amendment won't pass and most of those wannabes, if not all, are unlikely to make it to the White House. 

So they'll keep droning on about balancing the budget while voters don't notice that's all they're really doing while they're out on the hustings making irresponsible promises (that's totally bipartisan) without a clue how they'll pay for it if they also intend to keep their vow to never raise taxes.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.