How Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Vision Underpins the Compact for a Balanced Budget
King understood that good intentions were not enough to secure such equality. He understood that the structure of governance itself had to be reformed, and from the bottom-up.
The same core value animates the Balanced Budget Amendment, which is advanced by the Compact for a Balanced Budget.
The national debt problem is, at its root, a problem of representation. Without a limit on the federal government’s borrowing capacity, there is just too great an incentive for elected federal officials to make unsustainable political promises that advance their career. This is because they can borrow the money and send the bill to our kids and grandkids, who do not vote yet. Unprincipled elected officials know our kids and grandkids cannot punish them politically for many years—probably long after they’re gone.
Without a Balanced Budget Amendment, our kids and grandkids have to rely on us to represent their interests. But the truth is nobody can represent their future adult interests as well as they will be able to—just as wives could not rely on loving husbands to represent their interests adequately before women got the right to vote.
Our kids and grandkids are just not equally represented when it comes to our national debt, which undeniably burdens their future adult lives.
This problem of representation cannot be fixed by reforming access to the ballot. There is no time machine that can transport our kids and grandkids when they reach voting age to vote in our current elections.
Instead, just like civil rights reform required all Jim Crow laws to be uprooted, not just an end to the poll tax, we must reform the system itself to ensure that it does not treat our kids and grandkids unequally when they come of age.
That is precisely what the Balanced Budget Amendment at the core of the Compact for a Balanced Budget would do.
The Amendment would limit the federal government’s borrowing capacity, ensure fiscal transparency, and demand a wide national consensus for federal debt policy.
In short, the Amendment would ensure that our system of governance itself does not unequally represent our kids and grandkids when it comes to decisions that severely restrict their future freedom as adults.
While many battles continue on other fronts to fulfill King’s vision (and fiscal policy reform was not King’s focus), we sincerely believe that he would be proud of the Compact for a Balanced Budget.
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