Thursday, February 14, 2013

Balanced Budget Amendment is Back

There are already several proposals for a Balanced Budget Amendment in the House, and National Review Online reports that Senators Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn would unveil their own bill today in the Senate.  We posted on a left-leaning critique of the BBA here.  Here's what NRO said about it today:

Passage of a BBA is not just implausible; it also would be unwise.  Like the doomed 18th Amendment, it would enshrine partisan policy priorities in the founding document of the republic, which was meant to structure the democratic process, not rig its outcome in advance.

It would invite a hyperactive judicial intervention in the budget-making process that would throw the separation of powers completely out of balance.  Previous BBA proposals explicitly banned courts from raising taxes to balance the budget but did not otherwise limit judicial enforcement.  This means the judiciary might well attempt to set specific levels for every category of spending or otherwise shape budget priorities in an effort to enforce the Constitution.  Such a perversion of republican government would raise the stakes of inter-branch hostility and distrust to unprecedented levels.


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