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The LWVUS Advocacy Committee asks leaguers to urge Congress to vote against any constitutional amendment to require a balanced federal budget.
The League of Women Voters opposes any federal balanced budget constitutional amendment believing that such an amendment would permanently put the federal budget and U.S. economic policy in an inflexible straitjacket.
Constitutional amendments must pass Congress by an absolute two-thirds majority of each house, and then be ratified by three-fourths of the states. No presidential signature is required. In the Senate, that means 67 votes;- in the House, 290 votes; thirty-eight states must ratify.
As described in the "Contract With America," the amendment provides that: (1) Total outlays for any fiscal year shall not exceed total receipts for that year. Total receipts include all receipts of the federal government except those derived from borrowing. Total outlays include all outlays except those for repayment of debt principal. (2) A deficit may be incurred if three-fifths majorities of each the House and Senate vote to incur a deficit. (3) Congress may waive these provisions only when a declaration of war is in effect or the U.S. is engaged in an "imminent and serious threat to national security." (4) Any tax increases or debt increases must be approved by three-fifths votes in both the House and Senate. The amendment would take effect beginning in fiscal year 2002, or with the second fiscal year after its ratification, whichever is later.
The league shares public concern about the federal deficit but believes that the solution to the deficit problem must not result in an abdication of congressional responsibility. Current deficit reduction plans are on the right track. The five-year deficit reduction plan begun in 1993 is expected to reduce the deficit by two-thirds by the 1999 fiscal year.
Consistent, gradual reductions in the deficit should accomplish the deficit reduction we seek without the damaging economic and governmental consequences inherent in a constitutional amendment requiring the federal budget to be in balance.
The league's position on the federal deficit, announced in 1986, explicitly rejects a federal balanced budget amendment as a means for achieving deficit reduction: "The league recognizes that deficit spending is sometimes appropriate and therefore opposes a constitutionally mandated balanced budget for the federal government."
Write your representative now and urge a vote against this constitutional amendment.
Additionally, be prepared to flood the Capitol switchboard and congressional offices if gun control opponents use consideration of anti-crime legislation, part of the "Contract with America," as an opportunity to call for a vote on the floor amendment abolishing the Brady law and the semiautomatic assault weapons ban.
|September 1994||Home Newsletters||April-May 1995|