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senate Bill S. Joint Res. 19

Should the Constitution Have a Balanced Budget Amendment That Caps Federal Spending at 20% of GDP?

Argument in favor

The federal government has lived beyond its means for far too long, racking up a $22 trillion debt that will have to be paid by future generations. A balanced budget amendment to the Constitution that also caps federal spending at 20% of GDP would help put the country’s fiscal house in order.

SneakyPete's Opinion
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07/04/2019
👍🏻👍🏻🇺🇸 By All Means Why The Devil Shouldn’t We? 👍🏻👍🏻🇺🇸 The federal government has lived beyond its means for far too long, racking up a $22 trillion debt that will have to be paid by future generations. A balanced budget amendment to the Constitution that also caps federal spending at 20% of GDP would help put the country’s fiscal house in order. SneakyPete. 👍🏻👍🏻🇺🇸🇺🇸👍🏻👍🏻. 7.4.19.....
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One4All4One's Opinion
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07/05/2019
Republicans talk fiscal conservatism like having a balanced budget,but their administrations have by far increased the national debt. The Bush and Trump regimes have been the worst ever.
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Gopin2018's Opinion
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07/05/2019
I fully support and recommend passage of this bill as written. Congress has proposed balanced budget amendments for years, I hope there is enough bipartisan support for this one in the senate, the house I doubt until Republicans can be the majority and that’s not till the 2020 election. #MAGA
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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.

SouthernGal's Opinion
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07/04/2019
I love when the GOP tries to force spending limits when THEY drove the debt to the current $22 trillion thanks to their misguided tax give away to the 1% and the big corporations.
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Robert 's Opinion
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07/05/2019
A balanced budget is an admission by the Republicans that they do not have the discipline or sense of national priorities to govern. Republicans drive up the deficit by funding wars and by giving tax breaks to the wealthy. Democrats then have to fix it.
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Aaron's Opinion
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07/04/2019
Not at this time. We have to raise taxes on the wealthy first.
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joint resolution Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house has not voted
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
    IntroducedMay 2nd, 2019

What is Senate Bill S. Joint Res. 19?

This resolution would propose an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that requires the federal budget to be balanced each year, meaning that federal spending couldn’t exceed tax revenue collected. The amendment would also prohibit the federal government from spending an amount exceeding 20 percent of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) and require the president to submit a balanced budget to Congress. The spending restrictions wouldn’t be in effect in a fiscal year when a declared war is in effect, or if three-fifths of the Senate and two-thirds of the House vote to suspend them.

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 Senate Bill S. Joint Res. 19

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) introduced this proposed constitutional amendment to require a balanced federal budget that doesn’t exceed 20% of GDP as a means to address the $22 trillion national debt:

“While our national debt continues to climb, it is imperative that we stop spending without proper constraint. I have long believed that our Constitution lacks a requirement for the federal government to balance the budget — something that hardworking Americans are required to do every day. This legislation would implement a common-sense policy to improve our spending of taxpayer funds and help protect the future of the next generation.”


Of Note: Historically, federal spending as a percentage of GDP has trended very closely to the 20% cap proposed by Shelby’s constitutional amendment. After peaking at 40.6% in the final year of World War II, the proportion fluctuated between 10.8% and 19.8% from 1947 to 1979, next exceeding 20% during the recession of 1980. It remained between 20 and 20.3% throughout the 1980s before gradually dropping to 17.6% at the end of the 1990s. During the most recent recession spending as a percentage of GDP peaked at 24.4% in 2009. It has remained above 20% since 2008, totaling 20.7% in 2016.

In its budget and economic outlook for the 2019 to 2029 period, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that under current law, spending as a percentage of GDP is expected to rise from 20.8% in 2019 to 22.7% in 2029.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: iStock.com / sborisov)

AKA

A joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to require (except during time of war and subject to suspension by Congress) that the total amount of money expended by the United States during any fiscal year not exceed

Official Title

A joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to require (except during time of war and subject to suspension by Congress) that the total amount of money expended by the United States during any fiscal year not exceed the amount of certain revenue received by the United States during such fiscal year and not exceed 20 percent of the gross domestic product of the United States during the previous calendar year.

    👍🏻👍🏻🇺🇸 By All Means Why The Devil Shouldn’t We? 👍🏻👍🏻🇺🇸 The federal government has lived beyond its means for far too long, racking up a $22 trillion debt that will have to be paid by future generations. A balanced budget amendment to the Constitution that also caps federal spending at 20% of GDP would help put the country’s fiscal house in order. SneakyPete. 👍🏻👍🏻🇺🇸🇺🇸👍🏻👍🏻. 7.4.19.....
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    I love when the GOP tries to force spending limits when THEY drove the debt to the current $22 trillion thanks to their misguided tax give away to the 1% and the big corporations.
    Like (97)
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    A balanced budget is an admission by the Republicans that they do not have the discipline or sense of national priorities to govern. Republicans drive up the deficit by funding wars and by giving tax breaks to the wealthy. Democrats then have to fix it.
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    Not at this time. We have to raise taxes on the wealthy first.
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    No. Don’t mess with the constitution. If you want a balanced budget- Repeal the trump GOP tax scam! Tax corporations. Tax the wealthy 1%.
    Like (35)
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    I work 27.5 hours a week ( allocated by Medicaid) at 12 bucks an hour. My bills are paid. Why when the red team is in power can’t they pass a simple budget. Oh that’s right , we have to spend lavishly on our current head of states golf outings, and his economic plan is draining us. #Impeachindictimprison
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    The Congress, to which the purse strings of the Republic have been given, is the SOLE arbiter of how and where our taxes will be spent. The Founders designed our republic this way to ensure that the branch of government MOST DIRECTLY ELECTED AND REPRESENTATIVE of We the People would have the power to spend the money WE give the country for its operations. As I have said before, it is my view that the Constitution is general in its guidance, not specific. Lazy legislators, desirous of avoiding the challenging and difficult task of managing the government’s expenditures while retaining all the power, perks and pleasures of the offices to which they are elected, need to fulfill their duties and do their job or leave office. In fact, We the People will help them find the door if they cannot do their jobs!
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    WOW! Why now? Why not when Trump was jacking up the deficit to build walls, give the wealthy permanent tax breaks and the rest of us very temporary breaks? This bill will increase taxes on those of us who were given the “temporary” tax breaks (given to appease the “here and now” folks who didn’t realize that they would be financially raped when the tax bills come due). Our Republican friends must be giving up on the next election and want to dump responsibility for yet another mess that the next administration will have to fix. The deceived “here-and-now” crowds that brought the Trump-plague upon us will blame the new administration. Once again, politics to support the party at the expense of people.
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    Republicans talk fiscal conservatism like having a balanced budget,but their administrations have by far increased the national debt. The Bush and Trump regimes have been the worst ever.
    Like (22)
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    The Republicans must be worried about losing the White House and the Senate or they wouldn’t be raising this issue at this time, especially with the way they blew up the debt and the deficit with their last budget, Trump’s golf trips, and his July 4th political rally. A zero based budget would be a better way to go.
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    Wait - are Republicans concerned about the debt and deficit again??? When did that happen?
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    I fully support and recommend passage of this bill as written. Congress has proposed balanced budget amendments for years, I hope there is enough bipartisan support for this one in the senate, the house I doubt until Republicans can be the majority and that’s not till the 2020 election. #MAGA
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    Absolutely not. Just another way for repugs to cut social services like SSecurity and Medicare.
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    Better to tax the rich to help everyone.
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    I do support balanced budgets, but this is a bad deal for two reasons: 1. The military will always come first, and will always want more money, which leaves all the other agencies having to fight for the scraps. 2. It says nothing about passing massive tax cuts which will inflate the deficit, and those are the main reason it's not balanced now. If you're serious about fiscal responsibility, then both those issues must be addressed.
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    First of all, it would restrain spending in an emergency. Secondly, anybody who says they live on a balanced budget better not have a mortgage, credit cards, a car loan, or any other obligation. Third, this is a Repugnacant effort to strangle government.
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    I don’t like artificial restraints on the federal budget. Situations vary, like the 2008 recession, when extraordinary measures are necessary; and I don’t want to count on Congress to come to a consensus on this. If we need more money, they should take back some of the recent tax cut.
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    This is not the way for us to provide social services to citizens. This bill merely helps provide more of our tax money to Republicans that they have already been stealing from us for decades.
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    Such an amendment is at odds with the fact of the US’s fiat currency, and would lead to damaging austerity, increasing wealth inequality, which poses the gravest threat to our democracy.
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    Congress will never pass this, but we the people can. Sign the petition at ConventionOfStates.com
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