Last week, the Senate Republicans revived the idea of a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. And their version of the amendment is, as Ezra Klein is calling it, “The Worst Idea in Washington.”
Not only does it restrict the budget to less than 18 percent of GDP (Reagan’s budgets, at 22 percent, would be unconstitutional) but…
In a recession, tax revenue plummets and GDP stops growing, but spending has to be sustained, or even increased, to a) give people unemployment insurance and Medicaid and other services they need and b) keep the economy from contracting violently. This amendments includes no provisions for recessions, meaning that when the economy contracted, the government would have to contract as well. That is to say, we’re still not out of one of the deepest recessions in American history, and every Senate Republican has co-sponsored a constitutional amendment to make future recessions worse. It’s just breathtaking.
In other words, the amendment would prevent the government from reacting to a recession. So in a time when consumer spending and economic growth is backsliding, government spending has to backslide as well. And this begs the question: who’s left? If there’s no spending, how does the economy recover? It doesn’t and we’re all screwed. Call it the constitutionalizing of the “families are tightening their belts, so government should, too” meme.
Furthermore, the last time federal spending was lower than 18 percent was 1956. You know, when the top marginal tax rate was 90 percent.
Plus, Paul Ryan’s plan, which is supposed to be released today, will likely privatize Medicare and drastically cut Medicaid, while cutting government spending by $6 trillion over the next 10 years.
I sincerely hope no one is taking Ryan seriously about all this. And the Democrats better not be planning to meet him halfway. Even halfway would be a nightmarish disaster.
The balanced budget amendment, meanwhile, won’t make it through the Senate, though some Senate Republicans, like John Cornyn, are refusing to vote to raise the debt ceiling unless the Senate passes the amendment — a vote that requires support from two-thirds of the Senate, two-thirds of the House, then ratification by three-fourths of the states.
Unbelievable. These guys want to destroy the economy and make it impossible for anyone to fix it. That’s nihilism, plain and simple.