Bruce Bartlett takes a look at the Balanced Budget Amendment all 47 Republicans signed their names to and pronounces it “quite possibly the stupidest constitutional amendment I think I have ever seen. It looks like it was drafted by a couple of interns on the back of a napkin.”
I think “stupid” is the wrong word. “Dangerous” is more like it. And maybe “radical.” This isn’t just a Balanced Budget Amendment. It also includes a provision saying that tax increases would require a two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress—so, it includes a provision making it harder to balance the budget—and another saying that total spending couldn’t exceed 18 percent of GDP. No allowances are made for recessions, though allowances are made for wars. Not a single year of the Bush administration would qualify as constitutional under this amendment. Nor would a single year of the Reagan administration. The Clinton administration would’ve had exactly two years in which it wasn’t in violation.
Read that again: Every single Senate Republican has endorsed a constitutional amendment that would’ve made Ronald Reagan’s fiscal policy unconstitutional. That’s how far to the right the modern GOP has swung.
But the problem isn’t simply that the proposed amendment is extreme. It’s also unworkable. The baby boomers are retiring and health costs are rising. Unless you have a way to stop one or the other from happening—and no one does—spending as a percentage of GDP is going to have to rise. This proposal doesn’t interrupt those trends. It simply refuses to acknowledge them—or, to be more generous, it rules them unconstitutional. This is the equivalent of trying to keep your kid cute by passing a law saying he’s not allowed to grow up.
Modern day Republicans are bat-shit-crazy. There is just no other way to say it.