Says Tennessee and Other States ‘Balance Their Budgets — Washington Should do the Same’
WASHINGTON, Feb. 4, 2015 – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today announced that he will be an original cosponsor of a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The amendment, cosponsored by all 54 Republican senators, would require that the president submit and Congress pass a balanced budget.
“Washington has to stop spending money it doesn’t have,” Alexander said. “It’s long past time for the federal government to require a balanced budget that will reduce out-of-control spending, grow our economy and put us on the path to reforming programs Tennesseans depend upon.”
“For eight years as governor I balanced Tennessee’s budget, and other states balance their budgets – Washington should do the same,” Alexander said. “We must make tough decisions now to fix the federal government’s $18 trillion debt, and a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution is one way to make sure we address the real driver of Washington’s fiscal problems: out-of-control entitlement spending.”
The proposal, introduced by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), would require the president to submit a balanced budget each year. The amendment also limits raising or creating taxes and increasing the debt limit, by requiring a supermajority vote in both the House and Senate to raise taxes or increase the debt limit. Congress would have the ability to waive these limits by a simple majority vote if there is a declaration of war. In addition, it prohibits the courts from ordering revenue increases to maintain a balanced budget.
The proposed amendment would cap spending at 18 percent of gross domestic product, which is roughly equal to the historical revenue average of our nation’s gross domestic product. Under President Obama, spending was nearly 23 percent of GDP, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
According to the Congressional Budget Office two-thirds of all federal spending goes toward entitlement programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, as well as interest on the debt. In addition it is projected that by 2030 Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and interest on the federal debt will equal all federal tax revenues.