Patterico's Pontifications

4/18/2011

Rand Paul: Sure, I’ll Raise the Debt Ceiling …

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:23 am



… in exchange for a balanced budget amendment.

I have said it before and I’ll say it again: a balanced budget amendment is the only way we’ll ever fix the spending problem. Sorry, voters — the Constitution says we have to! A workable version should trigger automatic across the board cuts in the manner of Gramm-Rudman, and require large supermajorities for so-called emergencies.

And we are close to approval in enough state legislatures.

Is it a perfect solution? Perhaps not, but like democracy as a form of government, it’s the least imperfect one. Rand Paul has the right idea.

Say it with me: No raising of the debt ceiling without a balanced budget amendment.

16 Responses to “Rand Paul: Sure, I’ll Raise the Debt Ceiling …”

  1. i really have gotten to the point that i don’t want the debt ceiling raised, period.

    As for paul’s proposal, well, is he saying that he just wants congress to pass it and send it to the states? Or does he want it absolultely in the constitution, before he will vote for it. Because one will obviously take longer than the other.

    And yeah, i am digging on Rand Paul these days. maybe you need a crazy-@$$ libertarian to balance out big spenders on both sides of the isle.

    Aaron Worthing (e7d72e)

  2. What’s the enforcement mechanism? What prevents them from using accounting tricks etc? The law says they have to pass a budget and last year’s Congress just ignored it.

    Gerald A (138c50)

  3. It also addresses on the problem of deficits, but not the existing debt. Congress could conceivably pass a budget every year that while not increasing the debt, doesn’t pay down the whatever godawful amount we’ve accumulated to date–and use budget tricks to get around the balancing part, as Gerald suggest. And, as he asks, who would enforce it? If Congress passes an unbalanced budget, would we have to rely on a presidential veto? And what if the veto were made but overriden?

    I’d refine the proposal to: mandate paying down the debt at a set rate, and prohibit the federal government from most social services spending.
    That amendment might not pass, but it’s the only one that would actually (IMAO*) solve the problem.

    *in my arrogant opinion. Just for a change of pace :)

    kishnevi (a6ffde)

  4. Baby steps, kishnevi. Balance the budget first, then work on chipping away at the existing debt.

    Icy Texan (715d68)

  5. “A workable version”

    A lot of people would like to read a workable version before passing judgement, just like a lot of people would like to see some hot Megan Fox/Blake Lively chick on chick action or whatever flips your minnow.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  6. You can’t just pass a balanced budget amendment and expect Congress and the President to heed it. Congress and the President need to have clear consequences for not passing a balanced budget:

    -Any member of Congress or the Senate voting for an out of balance budget is ineligible to run for any Federal office again. Furthermore, they may not register as a lobbyist for ten years.

    -If an out of balance budget is passed by Congress, the President gets a line item veto to put the budget in balance.

    -If an out of balance budget is enacted, then the President’s term ends thirty days after the budget is enacted, and the Vice President becomes President.

    MartyH (52fae7)

  7. A balanced budget amendment does nothing to limit the size and reach of government.

    Put it this way Aaron: Would you rather have a $10 trillion federal budget that is in balance, or a $2.5 trillion budget that carries a $20 billion defecit? Which world would you rather live in?

    Blue Ox (ff919a)

  8. Whoops, “Pat” not “Aaron”. Sorry.

    Blue Ox (ff919a)

  9. Seconding Blue Ox: a balanced budget amendment would just give Congress an excuse to raise taxes every year. It doesn’t force Congress to make the toughest decision: to reduce spending.

    You wouldn’t hear, “Oh, the budget isn’t balanced: let’s cut another $200 billion from it.” Instead, you would hear, “Oh, the budget isn’t balanced: let’s raise taxes another 5%!”

    Some chump (4c6c0c)

  10. While a $10 trillion government is a risk it’s unlikely. The people will remove from power the people that raise tax rates to this extent.

    Lots of Democrats talk about letting the Bush tax cuts expire but where is Obama? Tax cuts on the rich. The Dems are too scared to own up to a massive tax hike on the middle class now and I don’t see that changing. After you’ve increased taxes on most of America where do you go for votes?

    East Bay Jay (2fd7f7)

  11. 3.It also addresses on the problem of deficits, but not the existing debt

    Actually, that’s made unimportant over time, because the GDP would expand and the debt would not, making its percentage of GDP lower. Further, tax revenues would increase with the expanding GDP, so a smaller percentage of revenues (and hence, the overall budget) would be devoted to debt service.

    Look at it this way: suppose you buy a house when your income is $40K a year. And suppose you never take on any more debt, but you get a 3% raise every year. After 10 years, your mortgage payment would be very easy for you to pay. After 20 years, you would hardly notice it at all.

    Some chump (4c6c0c)

  12. After 20 years, you would hardly notice it at all.

    I’d rather do what (to keep to the terminology of your parallel) what my mother did: have it paid down to the point where she could completely pay it off after twenty years.

    In other words, not only bring the debt down to manageable proportions (although that would be nice) but get rid of altogether.

    You’re also assuming a steady expansion of the economy. There have in fact been long periods of history in which economies have shrunk–or in which one country’s economy shrinks while that of others grows.

    Baby steps, kishnevi. Balance the budget first, then work on chipping away at the existing debt

    You’re right, in principle. But I’m afraid that a series of baby steps will be actually harder than doing it all in one big step at once.
    And I suspect that time is not on the side of the step by step approach.

    kishnevi (cbf6ab)

  13. I’d rather do what (to keep to the terminology of your parallel) what my mother did: have it paid down to the point where she could completely pay it off after twenty years

    I would rather pay off the debt, too, but I was trying to show you how it would become negligible after many years of not adding to it.

    Businesses carry debt all the time. When the debt becomes due, they roll over the debt. It is often a smart thing to do, and it’s only an issue when their revenues can’t pay for debt service on top of operations. As the business expands, the debt service becomes a very small part of their revenues.

    Governments and businesses are different from people when it comes to finances. People don’t live anywhere near as long as businesses or government, and people have several years at the end of their lives when they aren’t earning money (or earning very much less than they did while working). For those reasons, it’s not accurate to compare financial strategies between people and governments: a business is a more apt comparison.

    You’re also assuming a steady expansion of the economy. There have in fact been long periods of history in which economies have shrunk–or in which one country’s economy shrinks while that of others grows

    Over many years, the US economy will grow. It’s not a monotonic increase, but since 1940 you can’t find a 10-year period in US history where the economy didn’t grow.

    Some chump (4c6c0c)

  14. A balanced budget amendment means the supreme court determines the budget, every year. OR, if not, it’s unenforceable because courts won’t touch it as a political question.

    It’s not a formal transfer of power to budget to the Supreme Court, sure. But Congress will inevitably develop shenanigans to get around the amendment; the shenanigans will be followed by lawsuits; and then either the court steps in and takes over the budget process or the amendment becomes a dead letter.

    I understand why this is tempting. But I don’t understand how it can be reconciled with a philosophy of judicial conservatism.

    aphrael (fe2ce4)

  15. Over many years, the US economy will grow. It’s not a monotonic increase, but since 1940 you can’t find a 10-year period in US history where the economy didn’t grow.

    past performance is not a guarantee, etc., as they say in the stock broker commercials. Just because the US economy has generally trended towards growth throughout history, does not mean it will always do that. In fact, we may (I emphasize “may”) be in the middle of the first ten year period when it did not grow. It’s even capable of shrinking.

    And historically, it’s some of the strongest economies that end up having the longest and most chronic downturns. Great Britain is a good example–the world’s strongest economy throughout the 19th century started to sputter with WWI, and never got its mojo back. The socialism of the post WWII years was a response to that downturn, not a cause.

    kishnevi (07cf78)

  16. But I don’t understand how it can be reconciled with a philosophy of judicial conservatism.

    They just note it’s the least imperfect solution they can come up with right now. We have a crisis, and this beats the hell out of the status quo.

    Your pessimism is quite fair. The amendment will be violated eventually. But that’s an argument against a constitutional republic.

    Dustin (c16eca)


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