Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and a handful of other tea party lawmakers have been pushing a plan to create a balanced budget amendment (BBA) to the U.S. Constitution. With little support for the idea in Congress, Paul traveled to the Kentucky Capitol this week to urge his state’s lawmakers to call for a Constitutional Convention in order to force the issue. On Tuesday, at Paul’s behest, the state Senate passed the measure on a near party-line vote.
But not everyone on the right is thrilled with the plan. Kentucky tea party gubernatorial hopeful Phil Moffett — who introduced Paul at CPAC earlier this month and whom Paul has endorsed — slammed Paul’s idea in a lengthy statement on his website:
Asking states to call a federal constitutional convention is fraught with peril. First this has not been attempted since the Constitution was passed. There are not any established protocols or limitations that can be placed on the convention, therefore the entire Constitution will be open for modification. I do not have confidence in today’s politicians to do the same level of work our Founding Fathers accomplished in the 1780′s.
Moffett goes on to explain, in detail, why a balanced budget amendment to Kentucky’s Constitution has completely failed in its aims.
Indeed, a balanced budget amendment is a terrible idea. Bruce Bartlett, a conservative columnist who worked for Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, in addition to Paul’s father, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), has noted that a BBA is “just an election year ploy” to “fool people into thinking [Republicans] are fiscally responsible.” Bartlett cites over a dozens scholarly articles explaining the dangers of a BBA, and lists eight reasons why it is a “bad idea.” For example:
It’s doubtful that BBA supporters really understand the composition of federal spending. In fiscal year 2009, we would have had to abolish every discretionary spending program, including national defense, to balance the budget and that still wouldn’t have been enough without higher revenues. We would have had to cut more than $300 billion out of Medicare and Social Security as well.
“A BBA would force the federal government to make economic recessions worse,” he adds. And Bartlett is hardly alone among conservatives. Scott Galupo, a former staffer for House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) called the proposed amendment “quite simply, insane,” in an op-ed he wrote last year titled “A Balanced Budget Amendment Is Still a Stupid Idea.”