Want a job? Want Medicare when you retire? How about good public schools? Then look out: Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) is joining with his tea party allies to hold a vote today that would guarantee deep, radical cuts—and make those cuts part of the U.S. Constitution, the supreme law of the land.
The so-called Balanced Budget Amendment is even worse than the budget proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). As Robert Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) put it, the Ryan plan would have produced:
the largest redistribution of income from the bottom to the top in modern U.S. history, while increasing poverty and inequality more than any measure in recent times and possibly in the nation’s history.
If you thought the Ryan budget was bad, the “Balanced Budget Amendment” to the U.S. Constitution is far worse. It would double the nation’s unemployment rate and cause the economy to shrink by 17 percent, according to the Center for American Progress. In addition, as Bloomberg points out, it would force lawmakers to”:
slash Medicare, eliminate federal programs or shrink education, law enforcement or national defense.
(If you oppose the so-called Balanced Budget Amendment, let your representative know. Call 202-224-3121 orclick here.)
Last night, The Hill reported that “the conservative-Democrat Blue Dog Coalition officially endorsed the House Republican balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution.”
It appears conservative democrats—who opposed the Ryan budget—are willing to join with Boehner and his tea party allies in supporting the much worse-Balanced Budget Amendment. Maybe that’s because the “balanced budget amendment” has a good name on paper. And it doesn’t have the votes to pass. So for some of these lawmakers, it’s a nice symbolic vote to take. They can go back home and tell their constituents they support a “balanced budget.” Sounds good, right?
What these lawmakers aren’t telling their constituents is that working families would bear the burden of massive, massive cuts. Mammoth cuts—versus raising revenue to balance the budget—would be forced in part because of extremist opposition to raising taxes on the right, and in part because of Grover Norquist’s “taxpayer protection pledge,” which the vast majority of Republicans have signed. This pledge prohibits raising taxes to balance the budget, under any circumstances. As Norquist, a rapid anti-government activist famously said, “I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.” This amendment, tied to his pledge, is a way of making his goal a reality.
Clearly, there’s a moral crisis in Washington. The fact that lawmakers of both parties are considering an amendment to immediately balance the federal budget when our economy is so weak—which would tie the government’s hands in the future and all but guarantee a second Great Depression in the event of a financial crisis—is deplorable.
What could possibly be worse? The fact that they’re prepared to do it knowing that working families—the 99 percent who have borne the burden of bailouts and an awful jobs market—would now suffer the consequences of the savage cuts that the so-called “balanced budget Amendment” would force. While as usual, the 1 percent are let off the hook. Shame.