“No Man’s life liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session”.

- attributed to NY State Judge Gideon Tucker

Monday, March 8, 2010

What A Spending/Deficit Rule or Amendment Could Resemble

Last week, in the Wall Street Journal, two Republican House Members, Jeb Hensarling and Mike Pence, wrote an editorial concerning a Spending Limit Amendment to the Constitution.

I've discussed this notion with various colleagues in recent years. There are issues with how one states such a limit.

Hensarling and Pence argue for using a novel approach. Rather than wade into the morass of budget details and programs, they suggest a simple limit of 20% of "the economy," which one presumes to mean GDP.

What is covered in the 20% could easily be described as the sum of the stated federal budget plus off-budget programs, including Social Security, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Medicare, Medicaid, etc.

They allow for relief from the limit in the event of a declaration of war, or a two-thirds vote of both Houses.

Personally, I'd opt for only the declaration of war. Otherwise, the current Congress could vote themselves exempt.

I like their simplicity and the notion that federal spending should be limited to its long-term average post-WWII.

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