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`Section 1. Total outlays for any fiscal year shall not exceed total receipts for that fiscal year, unless three-fifths of the whole number of each House of Congress shall provide by law for a specific excess of outlays over receipts by a rollcall vote.
`Section 2. The limit on the debt of the United States held by the public shall not be increased, unless three-fifths of the whole number of each House shall provide by law for such an increase by a rollcall vote.
`Section 3. Prior to each fiscal year, the President shall transmit to the Congress a proposed budget for the United States Government for that fiscal year in which total outlays do not exceed total receipts.
`Section 4. No bill to increase revenue shall become law unless approved by a majority of the whole number of each House by a rollcall vote.
`Section 5. The Congress may waive the provisions of this article for any fiscal year in which a declaration of war is in effect. The provisions of this article may be waived for any fiscal year in which the United States is engaged in military conflict which causes an imminent and serious military threat to national security and is so declared by a joint resolution, adopted by a majority of the whole number of each House, which becomes law.
`Section 6. The Congress shall enforce and implement this article by appropriate legislation, which may rely on estimates of outlays and receipts.
`Section 7. Total receipts shall include all receipts of the United States Government except those derived from borrowing. Total outlays shall include all outlays of the United States Government except for those for repayment of debt principal.
`Section 8. This article shall take effect beginning with the later of the second fiscal year beginning after its ratification or the first fiscal year beginning after December 31, 2016.’ House Joint Resolution Balance Budget Amendment introduced by Representative Bob Goodlatte (Virginia 6) and 205 co-sponsors.

As some may remember I shared, several months ago, my proposal for a balance budget amendment.  I know Bob Goodlatte he is a nice man and represents my hometown of Lexington Virginia.  I do not agree with many of his positions; I believe he is a toady to  which ever way the winds are blowing in the Republican majority.

This is a serious piece of legislation, however I believe that my shorter and simpler version is superior (why wouldn’t I believe that) for several reasons.

  1. Bob’s is written as a lawyer would write it, which is well and good, however our founders were men of simplicity, I would argue mine is not only simpler but better understood by the citizens.
  2. Bob confuses the issue with including the debt ceiling in the discussion of a balanced budget.  While related, the debt ceiling must be viewed as a separate issue.  In the short term if a balance budget amendment is ratified by the respective states, it will take several years before the national debt will begin coming down; and in fact it may well rise depending on the economy.
  3. I believe this standard for allowing Congress to override the provisions of the balance budget amendment is too low.  I proposed a four fifths (4/5) vote, I must admit I did not think to add a phrase that Bob uses, by a roll call vote.  That is an important to know who did or did not vote to have a budget that is not balanced.
  4. Bob adds a provision that taxes will not be raised except by a majority of both houses by a roll call vote.  I believe this is also not needed.  No bill is going to pass unless there is a majority; requiring a roll call vote is not necessary as that should be in the discretion of the respective houses of Congress.
  5. Bob provides a provision for an exception during times of war.  He needs to be more specific: a Congressionally declared war; since the end of World War II our nation has committed American troops to Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, Desert Storm, Somalia, the Balkans, Iraq, and Afghanistan to name a few, all which were accomplished without a Congressional Declaration of War.  For me it is not a Joint Resolution authorizing the President to take specific action; rather it is a Joint Resolution that unequivocally stating that the Congress of the United States declares war.
  6. Bob defines revenues as excluding money that is borrowed.  Now I am not a CPA, but it seems to me that one would never count money borrowed as a receipt.  While I think it is not necessary, I would add it to my proposed amendment.
  7. Bob focuses entirely on the actions of Congress; however my amendment also provides for the President a line item veto and for Congress a mean to overturn that line item veto by a 2/3 vote.  While to Bob’s way of thinking a Congress, like the 111th Congress, needs to be controlled from overspending.  I would argue, that a line item veto would benefit the nation as it would permit the President to exercise those item, such as the bridge to nowhere, that Congress both Republicans and Democrats are guilty of  doing including in appropriations bills.
  8. The strength of my proposed amendment is it empowers both the Legislative and Executive.  Without empowering both, we tilt the balance in favor of the legislative.  We must preserve the checks and balances which the founders so wisely put into place.  While the current crop of republicans believe the evils of deficits were the work of democrats; they forget their role in the years 2001 to 2006 in increasing the deficits of our nation.  The last President who balanced the budget was not George W. Bush, rather William Jefferson Clinton.  Both parties in the Congress are to blame, we must give the President a means of countering an imperial congress.

On the whole I would give Bob Goodlatte a B for his effort.

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