The dumbest proposed constitutional amendment of all time

THE DUMBEST PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT OF ALL TIME…. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other top GOP leaders sent out a message to every Republican in the chamber: GOP senators will be expected to endorse a constitutional amendment mandating a balanced budget. No exceptions.

As of yesterday, the demands were successful — literally everyone in the 47-member Senate Republican caucus signed on as co-sponsors of the truly ridiculous Balanced Budget Amendment.

The last time the BBA reached the Senate floor, 14 years ago, it came literally just one vote shy of passing. This time, proponents hope enormous deficits, combined with public confusion, have created a more favorable environment.

Indeed, this version of the BBA is even more ambitious — and more absurd — than its predecessors. The federal budget would not only have to be balanced, but it would be written into constitutional stone that spending couldn’t exceed 18% of GDP without two-thirds supermajorities.

Bruce Bartlett has explained, more than once, why this little gimmick would be a dreadful mistake, but he revisited the issue yesterday, calling the latest version of the Republican plan “mind boggling in its insanity.”

In short, this is quite possibly the stupidest constitutional amendment I think I have ever seen. It looks like it was drafted by a couple of interns on the back of a napkin. Every senator cosponsoring this POS should be ashamed of themselves.

Again, that’s a group that includes literally every Republican senator, including the so-called moderates who are presumed to be sane.

Jonathan Bernstein also had a worthwhile piece on this, calling the BBA a “pathetic joke of an amendment,” which would very likely make the deficit worse, not better. In apparent reference to the entire Senate GOP caucus, Jonathan concluded, “Any politician who peddles this junk is either a fool or a scam artist.”

I’d just add one related thought. The whole idea of the BBA offends me because it’s such a cheap cop-out. Policymakers who want to balance the budget can put together a plan to balance the budget. It’s hard work, of course, but those who take this goal seriously can put in the effort and craft a plan.

But they don’t want to. They don’t want to draft a plan to balance the budget, they want a constitutional gimmick that will mandate a policy goal they can’t figure out how to accomplish on their own. Instead of effort and intellectual honesty, Senate Republicans prefer the easy way out (which as Jonathan explained, wouldn’t really work anyway).

In other words, those who want a balanced budget amendment should make plain how they’d balance the budget. Otherwise, the scheme is just a silly, cynical charade.