Balanced budget amendment: A trap for fiscal conservatives

A law ensuring that government spending doesn't exceed revenue sure sounds good — until you consider what it would cost the GOP

Edward Morrissey

CNN’s Candy Crowley recently asked Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), one of the many new Republicans on Capitol Hill, whether Paul could bring himself to vote for a raise in the statutory debt ceiling, an issue rapidly approaching the new Tea Party-influenced Congress. Paul’s Tea Party supporters are vocal about their opposition to allowing room for more borrowing and more deficit spending, and perhaps no other freshman senator, other than Marco Rubio, has more prominent ties to the grassroots movement. Countering that pressure is the obvious and critical issue of avoiding a default on U.S. debt service and other obligations, a potential crisis point was driven home by Monday’s warning from Standard & Poor’s on America’s bond rating.

Paul allowed that he would vote for a debt-ceiling hike as a one-time fix — but only if he could guarantee it would be the last debt ceiling hike the U.S. needed. “I would vote to raise the debt ceiling,” Paul told Crowley, “if we passed a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution and say from here on out, this is the last time we're doing it, we are going to act responsibly.”

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Edward Morrissey

Edward Morrissey has been writing about politics since 2003 in his blog, Captain's Quarters, and now writes for His columns have appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Post, The New York Sun, the Washington Times, and other newspapers. Morrissey has a daily Internet talk show on politics and culture at Hot Air. Since 2004, Morrissey has had a weekend talk radio show in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area and often fills in as a guest on Salem Radio Network's nationally-syndicated shows. He lives in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota with his wife, son and daughter-in-law, and his two granddaughters. Morrissey's new book, GOING RED, will be published by Crown Forum on April 5, 2016.