In exchange for not sending the nation into economic ruin, a swath of Republicans are demanding to pass a Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA) to the Constitution. By forcing government to actively slash spending in the face of falling revenues, such an amendment “would greatly damage an already-weak recovery,” “mandate perverse actions in the face of recessions,” and is considered one of the worse ideas in Washington. Nonetheless, as House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said today, the fringe contingent of the GOP is aiming to create “enough chaos” to force the Senate and the White House to accept a BBA. Freshman Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), sponsor of the Senate’s BBA bill, actually wants America’s “house to come down” unless he gets his way.
But today on the Senate floor, a more seasoned senator schooled the freshman contingent on economic reality. Though an avid supporter of the BBA, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) stood amazed that some members actually believed a BBA could pass in the Senate. Such a belief, he said, is “worse than foolish. That is deceiving.” Taking heed of numerous economists’ warning about the Aug. 2 deadline, McCain said that Republicans who are holding out on raising the debt ceiling for an impossible amendment is “unfair” and “bizarro”:
MCCAIN: Over here, we have individuals who believe somehow that there is still chance, at least in this Congress, to pass a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. Now, I will take back seat to none in my support of the balanced budget amendment. Thirteen times I voted for it. I will vote for it tomorrow. But what is really amazing about this is that some, some members are believing that we can pass a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution in this body with its present representation, and that is foolish. That is worse than foolish. That is deceiving. Many of our constituents, by telling them that just because the Majority Leader tabled the Balanced Budget Amendment legislation, that somehow through amending and debate, we could somehow convince the majority on the other side of the aisle to go along with a balanced budget amendment of the constitution. That is not fair.
That is not fair to the American people, to hold out and say we won’t agree to raising the debt limit until we pass a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. It’s unfair, it’s bizarro. And maybe some people who have only been in this body for six or seven months or so really believe that. Others know better. Others know better.
The senators McCain was taking to task include Sens. Jim DeMint (R-SC), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Rand Paul (R-KY).
McCain also read aloud from a Wall Street Journal editorial today that depicted conservatives anxiously waiting for a BBA as living in a fantasy world in which they are “tea-party Hobbits” that “could return to Middle Earth having defeated Mordor.” “This is the kind of crack political thinking that turned Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell into GOP Senate nominees,” said WSJ. “The reality is that the debt limit will be raised one way or another, and the only issue now is with how much fiscal reform and what political fallout.”