October 25, 2020

Is changing the U.S. Constitution the only way to rein in federal spending? Cindy Hyde-Smith thinks so

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith has introduced a bill that would amend the U.S. Constitution to force the federal government to create annual, balanced budgets.

“The American people expect their government to manage their hard-earned tax dollars responsibly,” Hyde-Smith said. “Our growing deficit and debt will catch up with us if we don’t act to control spending.”

Hyde-Smith serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee, which has jurisdiction over discretionary spending that comes through the Senate.

Senate Joint Resolution 3 would amend the Constitution to require:

  • The president to submit a balanced budget.
  • Congress to pass a balanced budget.
  • Federal spending to be no more than 18 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product.
  • Two-thirds majority votes in the House and Senate to raise taxes.
  • Three-fifths majority votes in both houses of Congress to raise the national debt limit.

The bill includes the possibility of waivers in times of war or danger to national security. The bill has been referred to Senate’s Judiciary Committee.

When such bills have been considered in the past, they’ve been defeated after numerous national economists warn that taking such a hard line on the nation’s economy could cause instability and even sudden downturns in the nation’s economy.

In 1997 when a constitutional balanced budget amendment was considered, more than 1,000 economists — including 11 Nobel laureates — issued a statement on the matter.

“We condemn the proposed ‘balanced-budget’ amendment to the federal Constitution. It is unsound and unnecessary. … The proposed amendment mandates perverse actions in the face of recessions. In economic downturns, tax revenues fall and some outlays, such as unemployment benefits, rise. These so-called ‘built-in stabilizers’ limit declines of after-tax income and purchasing power. To keep the budget balanced every year would aggravate recessions.”

To read Hyde-Smith’s proposal, visit: https://www.hydesmith.senate.gov/sites/default/files/SJRes3-Balanced-Budget-Amendment.pdf