The Mack Truck Sized Hole In The GOP’s Balanced Budget Amendment

The House GOP's proposed Balanced Budget Amendment contains the seeds of its own utter worthlessness.

Both Steven Taylor and myself have written about the structural problems that the Balanced Budget Amendment currently being promoted by the Republicans in Congress would create. However, there’s one specific provision in the House version of the Amendment, which is the one that the GOP seems to have adopted that makes the entire Amendment pretty much worthless:

The Congress may waive the provisions of this article for any fiscal year in which a declaration of war is in effect. The provisions of this article may be waived for any fiscal year in which the United States is engaged in military conflict which causes an imminent and serious military threat to national security and is so declared by a joint resolution, adopted by a majority of the whole number of each House, which becomes law.

So, even without a declaration of war, Congress could waive the provisions of the Balanced Budget Amendment for any fiscal year in which there’s a military conflict that causes an “imminent and serious threat to national security” merely by passing a joint resolution by majority vote. How hard do you think that would be? Heck, in 2001, Congress voted nearly unanimously to give the President unimpeded, undefined authority to wage worldwide war in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. Arguably, that AUMF itself would be sufficient to waive the provisions of the Amendment and, if it weren’t, I’m sure it wouldn’t be too hard for Congress to muster up a 50%+1 majority to pass a resolution every year.

That’s not to say that I think the Amendment would be acceptable if this section were removed. As I noted in my earlier post, the structural problems in the Amendment are too severe to be redeemed that easily. Moreover, the Constitution already gives Congress all the power it needs to reduce spending and balance (or nearly balance) the budget. If they aren’t using those tools, what makes anyone thinks the Amendment would change anything?

 

FILED UNDER: Congress, Deficit and Debt, Law and the Courts, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Trumwill says:

    Theoretically, it’s worse than worthless. It says that if we ever find ourselves not in a war, we’d better go find one quick unless we want to have to balance the budget.

  2. @Trumwill:

    Some would say we’ve basically been in some form of a National Security State of Emergency since the end of World War II so actual combat might not even be necessary

  3. Scott O. says:

    I agree, the GOP is worthless

  4. ponce says:

    I agree, the GOP is worthless

    The GOP is confused.

    They’ll figure it out eventually.

    They have to hit bottom first.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    They have to hit bottom first.

    Is there a 12 step program for them? Republicans Redeemed? Conscious Conservatives? Conservatives with a Conscience?

  6. ponce says:

    Republicans Redeemed? Conscious Conservatives? Conservatives with a Conscience?

    Assholes Anonymous

  7. Ernieyeball says:

    Let’s do a little cut and paste:

  8. Ernieyeball says:

    Lets do a little cut and paste.

    A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed. The provisions of this article may be waived in an imminent and serious military threat to national security by a joint resolution, adopted by a majority of the whole number of each House, which becomes law.

    There, that reads better. It’s more in line with the exception noted in Art I, Sec 9, Par 2 “The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.”

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    for the first (and last) time I clicked on the “like” button(just to see what would happen)… I don’t like myself that much. still @ 1 “like”, “0” dislikes…. JJ, to like oneself that much is a little incestuous (sp?)

  10. Ron Beasley says:

    Kind of a strange loop hole from a party that’s in favor of the forever war!

  11. @OzarkHillbilly:

    Is there a 12 step program for them?

    I think the last thing the Republican party needs is more appealing to a higher power….

  12. Murray says:

    It’s a Mack truck sized hole if you think the whole thing isn’t just a political stunt designed to take away from reality a sizable amount of the news’ time-space continuum.

  13. Argon says:

    @Murray: It’s a political stunt? Wow. But they seemed so serious and insistent about it. Next thing you’ll try to convince me that the Earth isn’t 6000 years old.

    Argon
    “Palin in 2012!”