Why this legislation and why now? Some political facts:
Decades of polling show supermajority support – whether you’re in a deep-red district, a moderate community or an urban blue zone – for a balanced federal budget.
Congress has, for more than 40 years, debated the pros and cons of a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, bringing up dozens of legitimate concerns.
Our nation is facing a fiscal crisis. With $20 trillion in gross federal debt and $200 trillion or more in unfunded liabilities, experts recently agreed at House and Senate Judiciary Committee hearings that our nation risks a sovereign debt crisis.
Excessive federal borrowing risks more than economic or fiscal calamity – it is the civil rights issue of this century. By sending our children and future generations the bill for our policy choices, we deny them the right of self-governance; tax them without representation; and deprive them of policy choices as interest payments consume more and more revenues.
As an economic, fiscal and civil rights issue, it is essential that the federal budget return to balance as soon as possible.
H.Con.Res. 73: THE RIGHT SOLUTION AT THE RIGHT TIME
We commend the House Budget Committee and the President for proposing a budget plan that balances within ten years. While ratification of just about any balanced budget amendment would be a step forward, the passage of H.Con.Res. 73 is an especially plausible route to a win-win policy outcome.
Crucially, its passage would allow the President and Congress to rightly contend that they are committed to fundamental fiscal reform.
For this reason, we commend the House Budget Committee for including Section 501 in its budget resolution, which endorses adding a balanced budget requirement to the Constitution and spotlights the Compact for a Balanced Budget.
To advance the policy prescription in Section 501 of the budget resolution in the House, we recommend:
updating this section to reflect that H.Con.Res. 73 was officially introduced on July 26, 2017; and
incorporating the language of H.Con.Res. 73 into the House’s budget resolution itself. Passage would still require only a majority vote as opposed to the two-thirds required for balanced budget amendment proposals made by members of Congress.
This would establish a strong enforcement mechanism, sustaining the budget resolution following its adoption. It would also strengthen the appeal of the budget resolution to fiscal hawks.
We are asking for – and the country needs – your principled leadership on this issue. We hope you will agree that H.Con.Res. 73 represents a path that acknowledges the need for long-term fiscal sustainability while also meeting shorter-term political and policy needs.