A Conservative against the Balanced Budget Amendment

The beauty of the US Constitution is the lack of specifics – the assignment of the rights and responsibilities to the states, the people, and the branches of the Federal Government. The Constitution of the EEU is hundreds of pages of detail, as are those of other social democratic nations.

We tried to get specific in an amendment with Prohibition, it didn’t work. We hear discussions of an anti gay marriage amendment, or other specifics. I’ll address the latter. I would support an amendment to Article IV, section 1, to state that the several states need not recognize the “licenses”, etc. of other states should those be illegal in that state. New York should not have to recognize the driver’s license of a sixteen year old from a plains state, the roads are quite different. Nor should NY be required to recognize a gun permit to carry from Texas.

Those haven’t been contested, and won’t be. The courts would “toss” them. But isn’t it a parallel if a state with gay marriage gives a license, and the couple moves to another state. Marriage implies a spousal relationship, and under law a sharing of assets and benefits. Should Arkansas have to give spousal benefits to a state employee married in MA under the gay marriage law of that state?.

The issue could be covered with the simple amending of Article IV to limit the “full faith and credit” of the acts of other states to those legal in the state involved.

In the same fashion an amendment forcing Congressional responsibility in spending could be designed (not sure yet how, but I’m thinking about it). A balanced budget is a fiction, in that one can exclude capital investments and other such by fiat (unless the amendment is so detailed as to be burdensome). Numbers are also a fiction, how many times have we seen them change as different “base lines” are used. This kind of detail doesn’t belong in the Constitution.

Here’s a try.

The United States, a republic comprised of several sovereign States, has certain obligations under the Constitution for the defense and international relations of those State. The Federal Government has also incurred implied obligations by legislation agreed to with those States. The budget of the Federal Government must be balanced with regard to income and expenditure each year with regard to the implied obligations, but it is given the ability to borrow for expenses with regard to the original franchise of defense, international relations, and national disasters. These borrowings must be a first obligation on future revenues when in surplus (with regard to those obligations and expenditures). Recognizing that moneys must be spent in deficit during special circumstance this amendment doesn’t require the budget must be balanced each year, but recognizing the danger of excess debt the amendment requires that all funds be applied to paying the principle of said incurred debt when there is surplus.

Not good yet, I’m working on it.