|For Immediate Release
June 2, 2011
Contact: Kim Smith Hicks, 202-225-3951
Statement of Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith
Full Committee Markup of
H. J. Res. 1, Proposing a Balanced Budget Amendment
Chairman Smith: Americans want the federal government to curb excessive government spending and erase the federal deficit.
Since 1960, the annual federal budget has been balanced only six times and the federal deficit has climbed from $300 billion in 1960 to over $14 trillion today.
America cannot continue to run huge federal budget deficits. Financing federal overspending through continued borrowing threatens to drown Americans in high taxes and heavy debt.
Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle recognize this problem. Minority Whip Steny Hoyer has said, “the course we’re on will lead to public debt that will exceed the size of our entire economy, and a government will then only exist to do two things: fund entitlement programs and make interest payments.”
Despite a bi-partisan recognition of the problem, in recent decades Congress has not been able to regularly balance the federal budget.
Several statutory attempts have failed to bring federal spending under control—from Graham-Rudman-Hollings, to the Budget Enforcement Act, to statutory Pay-As-You-Go requirements.
Many have concluded that only a constitutional amendment will work to impose fiscal restraint and rein in out-of-control federal spending.
According to President Reagan, “Only a constitutional amendment will do the job. We’ve tried the carrot, and it failed. With the stick of a Balanced Budget Amendment, we can stop government squandering, overtaxing ways, and save our economy.”
We came very close to passing a balanced budget amendment during the 104th Congress—falling just one vote short in the Senate of the required two-thirds majority.
It is once again time for Congress to attempt to pass a balanced budget amendment. Polls show that 95% of Americans believe the deficit is a problem and that 65% of Americans are in favor of a balanced budget amendment.
If we want to make permanent cuts to federal spending—cuts that cannot be undone by future Congresses—a constitutional amendment is the only answer. It is our last line of defense against Congress’s constant desire to overspend and overtax.
Amending the Constitution is not easy, nor is it a task that should be taken lightly. We’ve only amended the Constitution twenty-seven times. But America’s continued economic prosperity depends on changing our course on federal spending and growing deficits.
Democratic President and Founding Father Thomas Jefferson believed that “the public debt is the greatest of dangers to be feared.” Thus, Jefferson wished “it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our Constitution . . . taking from the Federal Government the power of borrowing.”
It is time that we listened to Jefferson and passed a constitutional amendment to end the federal government’s continuous deficit spending. We must solve our debt crisis to save our future.