Government Bytes


Columnist Steve Chapman's Anti-BBA Arguments are the Real Delusion

by Pete Sepp / /

In his syndicated column, Steve Chapman attempts to torpedo support for a Balanced Budget Amendment in a purely negative piece, “The Balanced Budget Amendment Delusion”, absent of any positive suggestions for remedying America's fiscal crisis. Fortunately for those looking for solutions, the real “delusions” in Steve Chapman’s article are the author’sown arguments against such a proposal.

He rightly critiques repeated failures of our leaders to“get serious about the deficit even when they face a stark obligation,” yet hebelieves a constitutional balanced-budget rule would fare no better. If so, whyhave a Constitution and Bill of Rights at all? An amendment would focus policymakers(not “distract” them as Chapman contends) on more responsible budgeting – and,in the words of former Congressional Budget Office Director Doug Holtz-Eakin,“give Congress a way to say no” to special interests.

Chapman then raises several stale and contradictory objectionsabout an amendment, such as it being easily evadable by crafty politicians. Ifso, why haven’t those same politicians lined up to pass the amendment and claimcredit for a gimmick they know they can undermine? Because they know that theamendment, while not perfect, will put a check on their fiscal excesses andhold them more directly accountable to the electorate when they engage inchicanery.

Thomas Jefferson wrote about the need for “an additionalarticle” to the Constitution “taking from the federal government the power ofborrowing.” Here’s hoping Chapman doesn’t consider one of our Constitution’sarchitects “delusional” too – and that Chapman will pay a visit to the NationalTaxpayers Union again sometime soon. He could get a worthwhile refresher courseon why the tax-spend-and-borrow crowds in both parties have feared thisamendment for so long.