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A Balanced Budget Amendment with teeth

Unlike the farce that went down to defeat in 2011, this Balanced Budget Amendment would work.

Amendment _____


Section 1. In any fiscal year, the government of the United States shall not spend more than it collects. When calculating its spending it must include all its discretionary and mandatory expenditures, as well as all its borrowing.

Section 2. In any fiscal year, the government of the United States shall not spend more than eighteen percent of the Gross Domestic Product of the United States economy, meaning the sum of total private consumption, total private gross investment, and total private exports less total private imports. No government spending of any kind shall be considered in this calculation.

Section 3. The government of the United States may exceed the spending limit in Section 2 only during a period of declared war in which the Armed Forces of the United States are engaged in combat against the armed forces of a nation specified in the declaration of war. Such excess spending shall only directly fund the Armed Forces, must be approved by three fifths of each chamber of Congress, must be reauthorized annually in the same manner, and must end no later than six months after hostilities cease.

Section 4. For any fiscal year in which the government of the United States spends seventeen percent or less of the previous fiscal year’s Gross Domestic Product, the President and each member of Congress shall receive a bonus payment exempted from all taxation, equaling one half of the recipient’s annual base salary for each whole percentage point less than eighteen percent of Gross Domestic Product spent by the government of the United States.

Section 5. If the government of the United States violates this Amendment two fiscal years in a row, then once each member’s current term of office ends, each sitting member of Congress shall be permanently barred from holding any office in the government of the United States, the government of any State, or the government of any Territory.

Section 6. This Amendment shall take effect three calendar years from the date of its ratification, and its text shall be interpreted to mean what a rational and reasonable reader on the date of its ratification would have objectively understood it to mean.

Section 1 does away with the accounting tricks used by Washington politicians to keep entitlement programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security off the books.

Section 2 sets the spending limit at 18% for a very good reason, and also prohibits Washington from including its own spending in the data for economic activity (since government spending cannot create wealth; it can only redistribute it).

Section 3 prevents this Amendment from forcing the American people into an unintended suicide pact, but also prevents politicians from playing games with so-called “emergency appropriations” that slither around the rules. There’s a sunset clause that forces Congress and the President to re-authorize any emergency wartime spending every year, which will keep them operating out in the open and subject to public scrutiny.

Section 4 harnesses humanity’s inherent self-centeredness to serve society by providing juicy incentives to our politicians. For example, if Congress and the President pass a balanced budget that spends only 15% of GDP, each politico gets a bonus check for one-and-a-half times their base salary, completely tax free, and we get to keep more of our own money.

Section 5 punishes elected politicians for failing to fulfill their duties under this Amendment. Politicians love power, and they can only convert it into fat paychecks if they can stay in office. To be forced out of power forever is a fate worse than death for these dirtbags, so they will take their duties seriously for once.

Section 6 provides enough time to prepare for the new budgeting process by guaranteeing that at least one Congressional election will take place between ratification and enforcement, plus a cushion for the “new kids” to get settled and involved in the budget process. This section also forces lawyers, politicians, judges, and special interest groups to stick to the common understanding of the Amendment as understood by today’s Joe Average. No “emanating penumbras,” “evolving standards,” “defining one’s own concept of meaning,” or “flexible legislative intent” loopholes allowed. This is not a “living document.”

Have I missed a loophole somewhere? Let me know if you think you’ve spotted one. Lord knows, we can’t survive much more of this:

suicide spender