Former U.S. Senators Paul Simon and Paul Tsongas are not outliers in the Democratic Party for supporting a federal Balanced Budget Amendment.
There are many democrats who have taken the same stand:
SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D-OH): “Before I ask for your vote, I owe it to you to tell you where I stand. I’m for… a balanced budget amendment.” (Rep. Brown, “Where I Stand,” YouTube, 11/1/06)
SEN. MARK BEGICH (D-AK): “It’s time to stop playing political brinksmanship with the budget and do what every Alaskan is doing - balance the budget.” (Sen. Begich, “Begich Statement On 2011 Budget Vote,” Press Release, 4/15/11)
SEN. BILL NELSON (D-FL): “Over the years, I have supported a balanced budget amendment…” (Sen. Bill Nelson, Congressional Record, S.1920, 3/29/11)
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): “[T]he balanced budget amendment's very, very important to me and to every governor, to every state, to every household, especially in West Virginia. And if they can do it, they think we can do it also.” (U.S. Senate, Budget Committee, Hearing, 1/27/11)
SEN. BEN NELSON (D-NE): “I voted yes and support a balanced budget amendment that allows for flexibility in times of war and for natural disasters.” (Sen. Nelson, Press Statement, 3/4/11)
SEN. MARK UDALL (D-CO): “I've long gone by the saying, if you find yourself in a hole, stop digging. By restoring healthy and responsible spending through a reasonable Balanced Budget Amendment, we can begin filling in that hole.” (Sen. Udall, “Udall Co-Sponsors Balanced Budget Amendment,” Press Release, 2/1/11)
SEN. MICHAEL BENNET (D-CO): “U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet broke his hesitation on endorsing the balanced-budget amendment last week… pledging support for the idea.” (“Bennet Balancing His Approach To Budget,” Denver Post, 3/6/11)
SEN. CLAIRE McCASKILL (D-MO): “I think they should. …It would be great if that discipline were in place. Clearly it’s a goal we’ve got to work toward…” “…responding to a question of why the federal government can’t have a balanced budget amendment…” SEN. CLAIRE McCASKILL (D-MO): “I think they should. …It would be great if that discipline were in place. Clearly it’s a goal we’ve got to work toward…”(“McCaskill For ‘Responsible’ Balanced Budget Amendment,” PoliticMo, 6/29/11)
SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY): “New York families must continuously balance their checkbooks. Forty-nine states, including New York, require a balanced budget. An amendment to the Constitution will finally hold the federal government to the same, common sense standard.” (Rep. Gillibrand, “Nation Deserved A Balanced Budget,” The Time Union, 6/4/07)
SEN. TOM CARPER (D-DE): “As a Member of the House, when I served with Senator Santorum over there, we were great proponents of something called a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution…” (Sen. Carper, Congressional Record, S.8063-4, 7/14/04)
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV): “…I believe we should have a constitutional amendment to balance the budget. I am willing to go for that.” (Sen. Reid, Congressional Record, S.1333, 2/12/97)
SEN. KENT CONRAD (D-ND): “I believe deeply in the need to balance the Federal budget… I would support an amendment to the Constitution.” (Sen. Conrad, Congressional Record, S.1147, 2/10/97)
SEN. HERB KOHL (D-WI): “The balanced budget amendment does, in my opinion, embody a principle simple and vital enough to deserve inclusion in the Constitution.” (Sen. Kohl, Congressional Record, S.1609, 2/26/97)
SEN. MARY LANDRIEU (D-LA): “I took a position to support a Balanced Budget Amendment…” (Sen. Landrieu, Press Conference, 2/25/1997)
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA): “The spending trends are what really motivates me, and I hope others, to accept a constitutional balanced budget amendment.” (Sen. Feinstein, Congressional Record, S.1594, 2/26/97)
SEN. TOM HARKIN (D-IA): “Mr. President, I have long supported a balanced budget amendment. I expect to do so again...” (Sen. Harkin, Congressional Record, S.2460, 2/10/95)
SEN. TIM JOHNSON (D-SD): “It is time to get our priorities straight. I've been a strong supporter of a balanced budget amendment…” (Rep. Johnson, Congressional Record, H.11213, 10/26/95)
SEN. MAX BAUCUS (D-MT): “I have always supported a balanced budget. Montanans want a balanced budget. We must listen to the people and give them a balanced budget.” (Sen. Baucus, Congressional Record, S.2469, 2/10/95)
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): “…we need to move toward a Balanced Budget Amendment.” (Rep. Durbin, Congressional Record, H.1310, 1/11/95)
SEN. JON TESTER (D-MT): “It’s absolutely critical.” “My folks did not teach me to not have a fiscal balanced budget. It’s absolutely critical… Because I am of the belief that you take care of your own self and you don’t pass your debts on to your kids... Let’s be fiscally responsible. Let’s have a fiscally balanced budget.” (Montana Senate Debate, 6/25/06) “Jon Tester will lead efforts to balance the federal budget…” (“Real Change, Real Vision For Montana Plan,” Jon Tester Website, Accessed 7/14/11) Tester Spokesman: “Of course Jon supports a balanced budget…” (“Rehberg Chides Tester Over Budget-Balancing Vote,” Billings Gazette, 3/3/11)
SEN. BOB CASEY (D-PA): “I Believe In A Balanced Budget. Government Should Live Within Its Means, Like Any Small Business.” MR. RUSSERT: “Let me find out how you would implement something that you’re promising the voters of Pennsylvania. Here’s a Casey campaign ad about our budget.” (Videotape, Bob Casey campaign ad): MR. CASEY: “I believe in a balanced budget. Government should live within its means, like any small business.” MR. RUSSERT: “How would you get a balanced budget?” MR. CASEY: “It’s not easy, Tim, but here are the steps we should take. First of all, when it comes to the budget, what’s missing principally is a lack of fiscal responsibility, you know that. We’ve gone from about two, 236 of, of surplus down to 296 in deficit. We need some fiscal discipline.” (Pennsylvania Senate Debate, “Meet The Press,” 9/3/06)
The notion that a federal Balanced Budget Amendment is only desired by “ultra conservatives” is demonstrably false.
There is a reason why both parties serve peaceably under and enforce constitutional balanced budget requirements in 44 states. There is a reason why only Vermont does not have a systematic means of limiting borrowing at the state level.
Good governance requires a limit on borrowing capacity because otherwise future generations are socked with the bill for our fiscal policies.
Good governance requires a limit on borrowing capacity because otherwise efficiency becomes impossible to assess and there is no reason for setting priorities; waste, fraud and abuse then become the norm.
People of good will do not have to agree on the output of fiscal policy in order to agree on what basic good governance requires for the process of generating fiscal policy.