By Quin Hillyer at the Washington Examiner;

Congress has wrecked the federal budget so badly that only a constitutional amendment, if even that, can ward off economic catastrophe.

As described in previous columns, last month’s discretionary spending agreement was so indefensibly exorbitant that it could portend a federal debt crisis of immense proportions. (The likelihood of an economic crash was significantly increased by President Trump’s dangerously foolish March 1 decision to impose large tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.) Perhaps the only thing that could convince debt issuers not to panic would be signs of serious movement towards fiscal rectitude.

What’s needed is not pursuit of the same tired old “balanced budget amendment” idea that has been bandied about for half a century. It will never pass: Liberals hate it, and a large subset of conservatives fear it could either hobble the military or lead to tax hikes.

Also, some of us are loathe to amend the Constitution except at last resort.

Well, we’ve reached the last resort. In lieu of a BBA, a constitutional limit on Congress’ annual ability to spend profligately on domestic programs could slowly ratchet down the debt pressure without making anyone fear harsh consequences or precipitate action. Especially since the new spending baseline is already wildly extravagant by all historical standards, anything that allows inflation-based growth from that baseline should scare nobody.

The best solution would segregate defense spending so that national security decisions are based on demonstrated need rather than political tradeoffs between the military and domestic purses. It also would eliminate the ability of a Senate minority to filibuster annual spending bills that remain within reasonable limits. It should promote a very strong bias in favor of spending restraint, but should allow at least the chance of a super-duper-majority “escape hatch” for times of great, demonstrated need.

Hence, I propose…. [To see what I propose, read this.]


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