Proposal One: A Balanced Budget Amendment
Earlier this month, Mark Satin, Centrist thinker and publisher of the Radical Middle newsletter, published a 12-point creative Centrist agenda that he feels, if adopted, could rid Centrists of the “mushy middle” label and propel us to prominence.
Here at The Yellow Line, we vowed to discuss each point. And so we will. Over the next several weeks we will write about each of the 12 points and hopefully spur debate on their merits, drawbacks and feasibilities.
Proposal One is:
Balanced budget amendment. As James Fallows memorably conveys in a recent article ("Countdown to a Meltdown," Atlantic Monthly, July-August 2005), current fiscal “policy” is going to bankrupt this nation, possibly even before the Baby Boom Generation now in charge dies off. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects record deficits totaling $1.2 trillion over the next five years alone.
Congress should pass a Balanced Budget Amendment. In an exuberant, contentious democracy, voluntary “pay-as-you-go” Congressional rules can never work. The Amendment should require Congress to raise enough revenue each year to cover the next year’s projected expenditures -- and to pay off some proportion of our mountainous debt as well.
In short, I strongly agree with this. A balanced budget amendment was actually part of The Contract With America but never got through the Senate. Of course, nowadays, even Republicans have little use for fiscal responsibility. And that’s why this can be such an important issue for Centrists.
If Centrists aren’t going to stand up and oppose the excesses and fiscal irresponsibility of the federal government, who will? You don’t have to be an economist to understand the severely negative consequences that will come from running up our national debt and yearly deficits. There’s only so long that we can carry such a heavy debt load before our economy suffers.
I’ve always felt that Centrists can generally be defined by their support of responsible action (on a personal and governmental level). And surely fiscal responsibility should be the cornerstone of any Centrist economic plan.