GOP Senate Hopeful George Allen Has A Case Of Balanced Budget Amendment Amnesia

Former Sen. George Allen (R-VA)

Former Sen. George Allen (R-VA) is trying to regain the seat he lost in 2006 after his infamous bullying of an Indian-American campaign tracker who he called “macaca.” In this campaign, he is playing up is his support for a constitutional balanced budget amendment, in order to clean up the massive budget deficit that he helped run up last time he was in congress. And his allies at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are also playing up the issue in their “independent” ads supporting him.

But video on Allen’s campaign site highlights his selective memory on this subject. As part of his “Ask George Allen” video series, Allen tells a questioner, “you do have my word to fight for a balanced budget amendment to the constitution as well as line-item veto authority.” He then explains his reasoning, saying:

In fact, while I was a member of the House of Representatives for one year in the early 1990s, I introduced the line item veto [and the] balanced budget amendment. We got it to a vote on the floor. And when I was in the Senate, a few years ago, I introduced it as well.

Watch the video:

But here’s what actually happened. In 2000, he ran against then-Sen. Chuck Robb (D), promoting his support for a balanced budget amendment. After getting elected, Allen waited more than five years to act. He neither authored nor co-sponsored a balanced budget amendment proposal in the Senate in the 107th or 108th Congress, while the Republican Congress and President George W. Bush took a $236 billion surplus and turned it into a $412 billion deficit. Instead, he focused his efforts on legislation like his Liberty Dollar Bill Act, a proposal to require that all U.S. one-dollar bills include the preamble to the constitution, a list of articles, and the first ten amendments.

Only in February 2006, when he was up for re-election, did Allen submit a balanced budget amendment proposal in the senate. In his speech announcing the bill, he said “I hope my colleagues recognize the seriousness, the importance, and the urgency” of his proposal. Allen was unable to get a single colleague to sign on as a co-sponsor.

But sure enough, his 2006 re-election site boasted that Allen “introduced a Constitutional amendment to require a balanced budget.

A constitutional amendment to require a balanced budget is, in the end, a gimmick that would either require massive tax increases or massive spending cuts — cuts which could have put 15 million Americans out of work if they were enacted this year. But still, Allen is throwing his weight behind the idea as a crowd-pleaser, when there’s no chance of him actually getting it enacted.