At least Andy Harris listened.
Today, Rep. Andy Harris voted against the debt ceiling increase. The plan did not require passage of a balanced budget amendment, which Rep. Harris feels is essential to bringing permanent common sense accountability to Washington.
“A balanced budget amendment is the only way to make sure the federal government spends what it takes in and lives within its means,” said Rep. Andy Harris. “Over the past few weeks I have repeatedly voted for reasonable proposals to raise the debt ceiling that included passage of a balanced budget amendment. But I didn’t come to Washington to continue writing blank checks. Maryland’s families and job creators sent me to Congress to permanently change the way Washington does business. I appreciate Speaker Boehner’s remarkable, historic efforts to craft a proposal to solve the debt ceiling issue. But today’s debt ceiling deal just doesn’t go far enough to build an environment for job creation by requiring passage of a balanced budget amendment to bring permanent common sense accountability to Washington.”
Currently, the U.S. Government has a national debt of $14.3 trillion and runs an annual deficit of $1.65 trillion.
I have been told by someone close to the Congressman that Andy was “one of the ringleaders” in getting the BBA into the original Boehner plan that was quickly shot down by Senate Democrats, so it was fitting and proper that he didn’t vote for this version.
Unfortunately, Andy’s dissent was in vain since the measure passed 269-161 – Republicans passed the bill 174-66 while Democrats evenly split 95-95. But at least Andy got some face time on the evening news (from about the 17-minute mark through the end.)
So the country is “saved” from having to stick to a budget plan – after all, that which is cut can be restored at any time. But if there’s a Constitutional amendment passed it would be more difficult (but not impossible, of course) to overspend.
You know, almost a century ago we passed a series of Constitutional amendments in less than a decade. In 1913 we allowed the income tax (16th Amendment) and provided for direct election of Senators (17th Amendment.) Six years later we enacted Prohibition with the 18th Amendment and in 1920 women gained the vote (19th Amendment.) That’s a lot of radical change in what was considered the “progressive” era.
Perhaps 2013 will begin a new series of Constitutional amendments, beginning with the passage of the Balanced Budget Amendment. But truly progressive reform would continue with the enactment of Congressional term limits (extending the 22nd Amendment enacting Presidential term limits to the legislative branch,) repealing the 16th Amendment to pave the way for a truly fair taxation system (one based on consumption,) and several other ideas I’ve had before.
So the fight’s not over, but it gives us all some breathing room before the fight begins anew in the 2012 election.