Today, U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) announced their support of a constitutional Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA) with all 45 other Republican members of the U.S. Senate. The government is borrowing 40 cents on every dollar it spends and President Obama is asking Congress to raise the debt ceiling for the fourth time since he entered office.
"We must not allow a vote to increase the limit on our staggering $14 trillion debt until the Senate passes a balanced budget amendment," said DeMint. "The Democrats refusal to agree to even a 4 percent reduction of this year's $1.6 trillion deficit proves Congress will never stop its spending addiction unless it is forced to by law. Forty-nine states have balanced budget requirements and the federal government should, too.
"A balanced budget constitutional amendment provides the best hope of regaining and maintaining fiscal sanity," said Graham, a long-time supporter of the BBA. "In their private and business lives Americans don't get a pass on their pocketbooks and have to deal with the consequences of overspending. The government, on the other hand, can ignore those kinds of rules. It's past time we get our nation's fiscal house in order, and passage of this necessary reform will finally rein in Congressional spending."
If ratified, it would require the President to submit to Congress a balanced budget that limits outlays to 18 percent of GDP. In limited circumstances, such as during a time of war, Congress can waive the balanced budget requirement with a three-fifths majority. The amendment also would make it more difficult for Congress to increase the burden on the taxpayer by requiring a two-thirds majority vote to raise taxes. A decade ago, a similar version of the BBA passed the House of Representatives but failed in the Senate by a single vote.
In order to become law, the amendment must be passed by two-thirds of both the House of Representatives and the Senate, and then be ratified by three-fourths of the states. Forty-nine states currently have a balanced budget requirement.