We Will Not Balance the Budget

by Dave Schuler on April 10, 2014

It doesn’t make any difference how many columns George Will writes on the subject. We will not amend the Constitution to require a balanced budget or even according to his preferred formula. At best such an amendment would merely make lawbreakers of Congressmen who would simply ignore the amendment when expedient.

This subject is like term limit amendments. When waste perfectly good column space in a valuable property like the Washington Post over something that will never happen?

I also wonder how he thinks the present budget could be balanced without cutting military spending (unacceptable to Republicans), Social Security spending, or Medicare spending, the last of which appear to be unacceptable to both political parties. You can’t cut enough so what sort of tax does he think might raise the necessary revenue?

Update

Glenn Reynolds takes not of Mr. Will’s column and implicitly supports an Article V Constitutional convention. Who does he think the delegates to such a convention would be?

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

TastyBits April 10, 2014 at 9:14 am

I am sure Congress and the White House can create accounting gimmicks to balance any budget, and the courts will bless it off. In the end, the result will be more cynics, and there is nothing worse than a new cynic.

Dave Schuler April 10, 2014 at 9:54 am

TastyBits:

Bill Clinton showed us the way. If you take enough things off-budget, any budget can be balanced.

... April 10, 2014 at 1:54 pm

In the end, the result will be more cynics, and there is nothing worse than a new cynic.

Yeah, it’s a real pain in the ass for us old cynics to show them the ropes.

Ben Wolf April 10, 2014 at 6:46 pm

We will not amend the Constitution to require a balanced budget or even according to his preferred formula.

It would be a farce to do so. The budget balance is not, much as conservatives might prefer otherwise, a matter of planning. It’s determined endogenously by the private sector and exogenously by the foreign sector, to which government outlays and collections then react.

Has anyone noticed this model of our economy which conservatives implicitly assume (a model in which spending and taxing requirements can be determined decades into the future via centralized planning) is far more akin to a Soviet-style command economy than to a capitalist system?

mike shupp April 11, 2014 at 1:22 am

“what sort of tax does he think might raise the necessary revenue?”

Looking back at my younger National Review-reading days, what conservatives generally feel is that if the government just stopped adding new things to do and got rid of a little waste (Housing and Urban Development, food stamps, extended unemployment, and so on) that the American economy would grow just as fast as the Chinese claim theirs is growing, so there’d be scope for both paying off the national debt and giving everyone frequent tax cuts. Needless to say, the closer we got to low debt and small government, the faster we’d all be getting as rich as we individually deserve. Whether that’s realistic …

Another point is that rank-and-file conservatives (e.g., office workers, not corporate executives and bond traders) generally view the state as adults as they did their middle class families as children. Daddy makes the money, and Mommy stays home, and we don’t talk about money and we can’t always get all the things we want because Daddy says No, but there’s always enough when emergencies occur. And that’s the way we should run the country. Period. Because anything else is Just Wrong. Look at all those people on the other side of the tracks and you’ll see my point!

It’s really hard to convince a 70 year old guy with a Princeton law degree or a PhD in Economics from Chicago that what they learned about the world back in the 1950′s just doesn’t apply to today.

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