Posted by 09 March 2021
The federal government has never been required to balance its budget every year. A U.S. House member wants to amend the Constitution to change this.
Rep. Mark Green (R-TN) has proposed a balanced budget constitutional amendment. This would require that the federal government have a balanced budget except in cases of emergency, such as war. Congress could vote by a super-majority to waive the balanced budget requirement in those times.
Supporters of this amendment argue that with a record federal debt -- over $28 trillion -- and high yearly deficits, it's clear that Congress and the president cannot be trusted to balance the budget. They contend that a constitutional requirement is needed to prevent fiscal catastrophe. Opponents, however, counter that deficit spending can be good in many instances, such as providing money to states that are struggling and who cannot borrow like the federal government does. They note that if the amendment took effect it would mean deep spending cuts and big tax increases, or both.
A balanced budget amendment is not a new idea in Congress. In the 1980s and 1990s, it was a prominent part of much of the discussion over federal spending. In 1982, the Senate passed the amendment but it failed in the House. In 1995, it passed the House but failed in the Senate.
It is unlikely that Speaker Pelosi will bring the balanced budget amendment to a vote during this session of Congress.
Do you support amending the Constitution to require that the federal budget be balanced?