House Republicans expect begin debate on a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution as early as today. The measure of the, H.J. Res 2, which is part of the debt-ceiling deal Democrats agreed to in August is watered down political cop-out on the part of the Republican leadership. Apparently House Speaker John Boehner thinks this vanilla amendment which merely calls for a balanced budget, and includes no spending limitation or two-thirds supermajority to raise taxes, might just attract enough Democratic votes to pass.
House Republicans are set to vote later this week on a balanced budget amendment (BBA) that would not cap federal spending as a percentage of GDP or require a supermajority to raise taxes.
Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said the vote would probably take place this Friday.
Cantor said that this version of a BBA, H.J. Res 2 — rather than one that would cap federal spending, H.J. Res 1 — was the version “overwhelmingly” favored by House Republicans.
What is it with the Republican leadership and self-defeating Kabuki theater? This bill is a spectacularly bad idea for several reasons… First, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer is actively whipping against the bill, so it’s an open question whether this turd will even pass in the House. But if by some miracle it does, the odds of getting the 67 votes needed to pass in Harry Reid’s Senate are about the same as the Miami Dolphins winning the Super Bowl this season.
Second it gives political cover to vulnerable Democrats, who can claim they voted for a Balanced Budget Amendment even though know it has no chance of passing.
Third it paints House and Senate Republicans who favor a tougher version of the amendment, H.J. Res 1, into a political corner. Democrats and their willing allies in the media will trumpet the fact that Republicans have come around to a “reasonable” compromise on the balanced-budget amendment that would have passed save for the objects of few radical extremists.
Finally, and most importantly, under Speaker Boehner’s amendment, federal spending could easily rise to 25% or more of GDP as long as the budget is balanced. This is a recipe for disaster that will ultimately lead to higher taxes… We’ve seen this game played out time and again in states that have balanced budget amendments without spending caps — politicians keep spending and raise taxes to pay for it because their state constitution say they have to balance the budget.
This is how Republicans lose elections, they were winning the debate on fiscal policy, but then they lost their focus and started putting political symbolism over substance. They badly misjudged President Obama’s willingness to cut spending and allowed budget debate to move to secret super committee where Democrats will almost certainly torpedo negotiations in and effort to gain a re-election advantage. And now they put forth a hollow balanced budget amendment that Democrats will gladly feign support for, but that has no chance of actually reducing spending or preventing future tax increases… Instead it virtually assures them.