In search of a solution to the great debt ceiling crisis, House Republicans have turned to the Tea Party for help in passing a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution along with deep spending cuts, and Senate Democrats have turned to the Jews for help blocking it.
The House Tuesday evening passed its Cut-Cap-Balance bill, 234-190 largely along party lines, but it’s likely dead in the water. The President has threatened to veto it, although it’s expected to die in the Senate and never make it to his desk.
That’s where the Jews come in, or were invited in. Twenty-one (of the 51) Democratic senators met with the Washington representatives of several Jewish organizations last week. Not all of the Jewish reps attending were Democrats.
Reported JTA’s Ron Kampeas: "Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, and Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), both of whom are Jewish, spoke most forcefully, participants reported, linking Jewish requests for funding to the need for Jews to lobby Republicans to help pass the budget."
Cardin later told JTA it is not enough to advocate for spending; the Jewish community must also help get a budget passed.
A constitutional amendment to balance the federal budget "would be disastrous," says Congressional scholar Norman Ornstein. It would prevent spending to combat an economic slump and require super majorities to increase taxes or the debt limit. Were the House-passed GOP version in effect today "it would mean slashing Social Security and Medicare" and cutting discretionary spending by at least half, "decapitating food inspection, air traffic control, scientific research, Head Start, childhood nutrition programs and more."