The long-term answer to the U.S. debt crisis is a balanced budget amendment, that was the message delivered in floor speeches today by four former governors now serving in the U.S. Senate. Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), John Hoeven (R-S.D.) and Mike Johanns (R- Neb.) each discussed the budgeting process they undertook as chief executive in their respective states and how it differs from the current process in Washington.
"The stuff that goes on here does not surprise me at all, except the cavalier attitude that this city and Congress have for the value of money. It just astounds me that in this institution they do not stop spending money when they hit the end of the budget or think to stop spending when they hit the end of their resources. They stop spending money when they run out of time. That seems to be the only sideboard on how much money is spent," said Risch.
Risch went on to say that 49 of the 50 states have some form of balanced budget requirement and only those that have used gimmicks to circumvent that requirement are in serious financial trouble. He urged Congress to approve a balanced budget amendment and give Americans the chance to vote on the issue.
A balanced budget would have to pass both houses of Congress by a 2/3 majority and be approved by 3/4 of states before being added to the Constitution. The current proposal is co-sponsored by every Republican senator, but senators on both sides of the aisle have voiced support for a balanced budget amendment. A vote on the issue is anticipated in the next two weeks.