House Rejects Balanced Budget Amendment
Today, the House of Representatives rejected H.J. Res. 2, a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, when the measure failed to garner the two-thirds majority vote necessary for adoption. The amendment did not include any explicit guarantees to protect Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security; would have required federal government outlays not to exceed receipts; and would have required a two-thirds super majority to raise the debt ceiling. House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) made the following statement in response to the House’s action:
“The ‘Balanced’ Budget Amendment was a bad idea when it was included in the Contract with America in 1995, and it is a bad idea today,” said Conyers. “The American people want to see their elected officials take responsibility for balancing the budget – not adopt a constitutional amendment that would result in cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Also by requiring a supermajority to raise the debt ceiling, the amendment would have encouraged the same political brinkmanship we witnessed last summer.
“I cannot subscribe to simply enshrining a ‘new promise’ by government that can only be honored by vitiating social security and veterans benefits – or by creative financing which would shift the real economic burdens for cutting the federal deficit onto the backs of states, cities, and our most vulnerable citizens.
“The so-called ‘Balanced’ Budget Amendment would have resulted in cuts far greater than anything proposed in the discredited Ryan budget, and would tie the hands of future generations to address problems we cannot even foresee. Congress doesn’t need a constitutional amendment to balance the budget. What we need is the determination and the courage to make the tough choices necessary to do it. That’s what we did when Bill Clinton was president, and if we undo the Bush tax cuts for the very wealthy, and end two unfunded wars, we will go a long way toward doing it again.”