Washington, DC – The time to balance the federal budget by reducing spending is now, and Congress has no leeway left to deal with the issue. That’s the message sent today by 47 members of the U.S. Senate, including Idaho Senators Jim Risch and Mike Crapo, who support a new Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. A procedure was put into effect today by the Senate that will force a vote on the Balanced Budget Amendment, at a time when Congress debates ways to avoid a budget and debt ceiling crisis that could dramatically increase interest rates and cause the government to default on its obligations to Americans.
"A balanced budget amendment is absolutely necessary if we are going to stop run-away spending by the federal government. Congress has demonstrated time and again they do not have the fiscal discipline to keep from overspending," said Risch. "I am convinced that the only mechanism strong enough to keep spending in check is a balanced budget amendment in our Constitution. It is vastly stronger than the numerous laws passed by Congress to limit spending that are routinely ignored or fudged. Congress only needs to look to states with real balanced budget requirements to see it is possible to live within our means."
"When we are borrowing $4 billion every day, carrying 40 cents in interest and debt on every dollar we spend, Americans know it is time for a serious discussion about a balanced federal budget," Crapo said. "Congress needs to get the message as well. Families know how to balance a budget, but the federal government still needs to get the message. This amendment is a strong step in the right direction."
The Balanced Budget legislation calls on the President to send Congress a balanced budget that limits spending to 18-percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The 18-percent figure becomes a cap on spending that can only be lifted by a two-thirds vote by both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives.
Federal spending has exploded since the budget was last in balance in 2000 and 2001, when federal spending was 18.2 percent of GDP. In a report issued last week, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects total federal spending in 2011 to exceed 24 percent of GDP. If current spending trends continue, the CBO projects federal spending will reach an unprecedented and unsustainable 34 percent of GDP in 2035.
Crapo and Risch noted that the precarious credit ratings currently held by America put all Americans, including future citizens, in jeopardy. Just a small one-percent rise in interest rates alone would result in $130 billion in interest payments on the national debt each year. That would make it more expensive to pay back as well as cause ripple effects on consumer costs for home or automobile purchases, college tuition and other everyday expenses. A vote on the amendment could be scheduled as early as July.