This year the Congressional Budget Office estimates the US Federal Government will spend $425 billion dollars more than it takes in. On the books, that deficit is projected to grow and in 10 years the total debt is estimated to exceed 22 trillion. In addition, off the books there are Social Security, Medicare, the VA and other programs that Congress has promised but failed to set money aside for. All combined the US Debt Clock organization estimates the total debt including these unfunded liabilities at 97.1 trillion dollars or about $302,000 per US citizen.
Clearly this debt level is unsustainable. It should be just as clear that we cannot at present trust our representatives in the US Congress to address the problem since it is that very institution that created this debt by spending more than it has taken in 45 of the last 50 years.
Fortunately, we live in a country where the people and their States have the Constitutional right and power to reform the US Government in fundamental ways. And right now there is an effort on in Lansing to pass an amendment to the US Constitution that would require Congress to pass balanced budgets.
State Bill 306 (SB306) supports an Article 5 Compact among the States that would require Congress to vote on an Amendment to the US Constitution limiting how much the federal government can borrow, and otherwise restricting federal spending to cash revenues. The initiative is supported by an Interstate Commission with representatives from the four states that have passed it so far.
The Compact has a long way to go as it must be passed by 34 more States before it can result in an amendment, but 44 States including Michigan already have Constitutions that limit their borrowing capacity or require their Legislatures to pass balanced budgets. There are receptive legislatures across the country and across political divides.
For the Compact to pass, enough citizens have to wake up to the fact that no one benefits from a situation where the US Government is allowed to borrow without limit. They must ask their State Legislatures to vote for a change.
Regardless of whether you feel government should be larger or smaller, a balanced budget amendment by itself won’t push the US Government in either direction just as balancing our own families budget does not dictate the size of house that we live in.
What passage of the Compact will do is to stop the US Government from kicking the can down the road.
The wasteful spending that Republican and Democratic-led Congresses have engaged in for the last 50-years has weakened our country in more ways than can be expressed in one column. Just ask yourself how much has been wasted and lost in the last half dozen wars and “police actions,” the many bailouts of corporations and financial institutions, and the funding of unproductive welfare programs. Ask yourself if we would have tolerated such bad public policy if we were unable to just charge the costs to a limitless national credit card. The answer is pretty obvious if you think about it. Our toleration of bad public policy would be much less if we actually had to pay for it out of taxes or a limited amount of credit. Unlimited debt has enabled and will continue to enable bad government.
We really have no choice but to Compact for a Balanced Budget if we want to minimize future fiascos. Together we can hold the US Government to a higher standard.