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house Bill H. Joint Res. 2

Should There be a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution?

Argument in favor

The federal government has lived beyond its means for far too long, racking up a national debt exceeding $20 trillion that will have to be paid by future generations. A balanced budget amendment to the Constitution is the best way to constrain spending and get the federal budget under control.

John's Opinion
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04/08/2018
Pay down the debt, run the country on what we have, and live within our means.
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Leon's Opinion
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04/11/2018
And they shouldn’t get raises or benefits until we’re debt free
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Jim's Opinion
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04/12/2018
I thought it was the LAW that there be a Budget for every year. Not necessarily balanced. A balanced budget should have been required decades ago.
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Argument opposed

A balanced budget amendment would pose too much of a constraint on the federal government, preventing it from funding many vital programs because deficit spending would be difficult politically for Congress to approve. The federal government needs to tax and spend more despite the debt.

mkettleson's Opinion
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04/08/2018
This is bad political posturing that shows ignorance of both political science and macroeconomics. It is just as bad an idea as it would be to have my finances be managed by rules that made it okay to starve my kids if the new car I want costs more than I make this year. The constitutional amendments we need are: equality for genders; valuing safety from guns more than revenue from guns; and limits on campaign contributions, lobbyists, and pacs.
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Aaron's Opinion
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04/08/2018
This proposal is based on junk economics and would have little benefit. Moreover, Republicans voted last year to attempt to repeal the ACA when the CBO projected that successful repeal would increase deficits and to reduce taxes even with an estimated 1.5 trillion deficit increase over 10 years. This bill is just a thinly veiled pretext to begin attacking Social Security and Medicaid.
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Greg's Opinion
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04/12/2018
This is just another Republican ruse to justify cutting social security, Medicaid, and other programs. Government debt is not like household debt. The government has options that households don’t have and the U.S. government is not in any danger of defaulting on its debt. The fact is, Republicans don’t really care about our national debt. All they care about is providing massive tax cuts to the super rich
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joint resolution Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house Rejected April 12th, 2018
    Roll Call Vote 233 Yea / 184 Nay
      house Committees
      Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties
      Committee on the Judiciary
    IntroducedJanuary 3rd, 2017

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What is House Bill H. Joint Res. 2?

This resolution would propose a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, which would prohibit the federal government from spending more in a fiscal year than it receives in revenue. Expenditures on repaying debt would be excluded. Congress could only waive the balanced budget requirement or raise the public debt limit by a three-fifths roll call vote by each chamber, while a majority roll call vote by each chamber would be needed to raise taxes (no voice votes would be allowed). These requirements could be waived when a declaration of war is in effect or if there is a military conflict posing an imminent and serious threat to national security. The president would have to submit a balanced budget each year.

Because it proposes a constitutional amendment, after this resolution’s passage by two-thirds of both chambers of Congress it would have to be ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures (38 states) to amend the U.S. Constitution.

Impact

American taxpayers and the general public; the federal government; Congress; and the president.

Cost of House Bill H. Joint Res. 2

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) proposed this balanced budget amendment to prevent the federal government from living beyond its means:

“Nearly 20 years ago, the U.S. Senate failed by one vote to pass a balanced budget constitutional amendment. If Congress had sent the amendment to the states for ratification in 1995, we would not be facing the fiscal crisis we are today and balancing the federal budget would be the norm rather than the exception. In order for Congress to consistently make the tough decisions necessary for fiscal responsibility, Congress must have the external pressure of a balanced budget requirement.
Every Congress since 2007, I have introduced amendments that require Congress to balance the federal budget. I urge my colleagues to consider the impact that reckless spending has on our nation’s future and on future generations. We should not pass on to our children and grandchildren the bleak fiscal future that our unsustainable spending is creating.
It is time for Congress to finally put an end to fiscal irresponsibility and stop saddling future future generations with crushing debts to pay for our current spending. We must rise above partisanship and join together to send a balanced budget amendment to the states for ratification.”

House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), who supported a balanced budget amendment proposal in 1995, encouraged Democrats to oppose this bill:

"Ironically, Republicans are pushing this proposal the same week in which the Congressional Budget Office released its new baseline projection showing massive new deficits resulting from Republican policies, nearly entirely from their tax law.  Under CBO’s projections, with no changes to their tax law, H.J.Res. 2 would impose a cut to federal spending larger than the entire Medicare program if it were in effect for 2019.  Even President Trump’s own budget proposal stopped short of that level of cuts.

It would also make it more difficult to raise the debt limit in the future, even if a majority of Members support it. This would further promote the brinkmanship and uncertainty that has been pursued by Republicans during debt limit debates ever since they took the Majority in 2011. It would also limit Congress’ ability to respond to a national crisis, though it provides one sole exemption in the case of a declaration of war.
H.J.Res. 2 is purely ideological. The United States of America has never written specific fiscal policy preferences into the Constitution, which is what this resolution seeks to do. "

This legislation has the support of 51 cosponsors in the House, including 50 Republicans and one Democrat.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: tomwachs / iStock)

Official Title

Proposing a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

    Pay down the debt, run the country on what we have, and live within our means.
    Like (140)
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    This is bad political posturing that shows ignorance of both political science and macroeconomics. It is just as bad an idea as it would be to have my finances be managed by rules that made it okay to starve my kids if the new car I want costs more than I make this year. The constitutional amendments we need are: equality for genders; valuing safety from guns more than revenue from guns; and limits on campaign contributions, lobbyists, and pacs.
    Like (251)
    Follow
    Share
    This proposal is based on junk economics and would have little benefit. Moreover, Republicans voted last year to attempt to repeal the ACA when the CBO projected that successful repeal would increase deficits and to reduce taxes even with an estimated 1.5 trillion deficit increase over 10 years. This bill is just a thinly veiled pretext to begin attacking Social Security and Medicaid.
    Like (56)
    Follow
    Share
    This is just another Republican ruse to justify cutting social security, Medicaid, and other programs. Government debt is not like household debt. The government has options that households don’t have and the U.S. government is not in any danger of defaulting on its debt. The fact is, Republicans don’t really care about our national debt. All they care about is providing massive tax cuts to the super rich
    Like (48)
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    Share
    And they shouldn’t get raises or benefits until we’re debt free
    Like (31)
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    Every year, this stupidity rears it’s head. The government is not a business. The government is not a NPO. Governments are different. They receive income from taxes. Their expenses benefit the people who pay the taxes. Government leaders retain popular support by providing services. If they want to continue being elected, they should provide as many services as possible to the people. That's because the vast majority of voters are never actually impacted by the debt. Government bonds finance the deficit. Most creditors think that the government is highly likely to repay its creditors. That makes government bonds more attractive than riskier corporate bonds. As a result, government interest rates remain relatively low. That allows governments to keep running deficits for years. This is, and has always been, a disingenuous ploy to prey on ignorance and fear. Deficit doesn’t really matter to a functioning stable government.
    Like (25)
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    This is a GOP two faced plan to capture control of Congress when they are all gone. What a bunch of hypocrites they are now after they increased the budget by trillions..
    Like (23)
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    Deficit spending is necessary to alleviate financial crisis.
    Like (20)
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    I thought it was the LAW that there be a Budget for every year. Not necessarily balanced. A balanced budget should have been required decades ago.
    Like (18)
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    Let us just assume that this Balanced Budget amendment passes and is fully ratified. What will ensue is almost certainly going to be chaos. Congress will be forced to cut EVERYTHING from our healthcare, to our public education, and even our veterans' benefits in order to achieve a balance budget each fiscal year. Not to mention the fact that taxes will certainly be increased immediately (on mostly middle-class Americans) since Congress can only cut so much. If you are willing to live without adequate Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, public roads, or even school funding, then this amendment is for you. If not, then you are now an informed citizen. We can reduce the deficit to zero over time, but it has to be done step-by-step and only after the American economy is doing well for EVERYONE.
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    Talk about a way to sabotage an economy. This is almost as ridiculous as going back to the gold standard.
    Like (17)
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    Government is not a business.
    Like (17)
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    NO! If we applied this logic to ourselves, none of us would ever be able to buy a car, a house, or handle any of life's emergencies.
    Like (15)
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    We cannot continue to spend money we do not have. We borrow from China to give aide to other countries that hate us. It is not helping us economically or from a foreign relations standpoint.
    Like (14)
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    Those who would want this also want to tie Social Security and Medicare cuts to the budget. They do nor affect the budget and are not there for the government to rape and pillage. We paid our premiums. Don't steal any more of our funds.
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    This is a slightly looser version of HJ Res 1. Like 1, this is one of those bills that gets proposed EVERY SINGLE SESSION. It sets a series of budgetary rules to enforce balanced budgeting, using arbitrary cutoffs. There are actually two versions of this bill, as nobody expects it to pass. If this did pass, it would mostly serve to be a weapon used to cut funding from programs funded by appropriations, which includes most social services programs. This is a silly, bad bill. Full text: https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-joint-resolution/2/text
    Like (11)
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    NAY!!!! TOO MANY VITAL PROGRAMS WOULD BE CURTAILED IF WE DID!!!!
    Like (11)
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    I support the idea of a balanced budget amendment, however one that is bi partisan in nature and one that’s not irrelevant. We are constantly in a state of war so even if this passes it will never balance the budget. The point of a budget is for us to think about how we use are resources. Why should one get a blank check at the expense of others indefinitely.
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    I can genuinely find no fault here and anyone that does clearly hasn’t read even the countable summary. The main opposition I’m seeing is that it will cut social programs etc. but it speaks nothing of programs or any other legislation only saying that congress must creat a balanced fiscal budget for each year so we don’t spend more than we have. Simple common sense for not going into debt and ruining the nation financially
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    There should have been one long ago but I won’t hold my breath for Congress to get it passed.
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