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Balanced Budget Amendment even more vital now than in '95


In 1995, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a Balanced Budget Amendment, only to have it fail by one vote in the Senate.
I was on the House Budget Committee when we passed this bill. We realized - with a national debt of $4.7 trillion - that the federal government needed to scale back spending and operate within its means.
Back then, I don't think any of us could have foreseen facing a $14.3 trillion national debt, nor could we have imagined the massive expansion of government of the past several years.
Our country is facing a fiscal crisis. Your government is borrowing roughly 40 cents of every dollar it spends, much of it from the Chinese, and sending the bill to our children and grandchildren. Every child born today already owes more than $46,000 to our creditors, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has named our record-high debt "the single biggest threat to our national security."
Over the past year, the House has passed a number of bills that will cut billions in federal spending - from repealing the job-killing health care reform bill to ending regulations that prevent small businesses from growing and creating jobs. But we can't stop there.
That's why House Republicans approved the Cut, Cap and Balance Act on Tuesday. This bill does three simple things:
Cuts spending for FY 2012 by $111 billion. Non-security discretionary spending is cut by $76 billion, $35 billion is cut from non-veteran, non-Medicare and non-Social Security mandatory spending, and the defense budget is funded at the president's level;
Caps federal spending as a percent of GDP at 22.5 percent, and scales it back every year for the next 10 years. By 2021, federal spending as a percent of GDP will not surpass 19.9 percent;
Requires the passage of a Balanced Budget Amendment before raising the debt limit.
Every month, you have to live within a budget. You can't spend money you don't have, and you can't simply ask your credit card company to increase your limit once you've reached it.
Congress needs to operate in the same way. A constitutional amendment to pass a balanced budget every year would legally force - not simply "urge" or "incentivize" - Congress to only spend what the government takes in.
In 1982, Ronald Reagan declared his support for a Balanced Budget Amendment, stating, "only a constitutional amendment will do the job. We've tried the carrot, and it failed. With the stick of a Balanced Budget Amendment, we can stop government's squandering, overtaxing ways, and save our economy." Almost 30 years after Reagan hit the nail on the head, we're still fighting the battle.
Remember, there's no such thing as government money. It's the job of the government to act as a responsible steward of your tax dollars. Isn't it about time for the government to step up and take this responsibility seriously? Before us is the opportunity to restore certainty in our economy, bolster job growth and keep America competitive. A Balanced Budget Amendment would help ensure that your government gets its fiscal house in order, and in the process, saves the American dream for future generations.