Reps. Granger and Johnson
February 3, 1997
in this forum:
What happened behind the scenes during the Gingrich ethics vote? Are the lobbyists really waiting for your plane to land? How much pressure do you receive from party leaders? How can Congress be bipartisan when the leaders are at each others throats over ethics issues? Should House leader have their own PAC? What is your stand on the balanced budget amendment? Will there be campaign finance reform this session? What has surprised you most about Congress?
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Follow the first year in Congress of Freshmen Reps. Kay Granger (R-TX) and Jay Johnson (D-WI)
A question from Kiley Thompson of Blacksburg, VA:
What is your stand on the balanced budget amendment to the Constitution? Why? I know a lot of state's like Virginia have gotten around their balance budget requirements by selling bonds that force later governments to pay up for the projects today's government wants. Are you concerned something like this may happen at the federal level?
Rep. Jay Johnson responds:
Yes, I am very concerned about the effects that a proposed Balanced Budget Amendment may have. I am against opening up the Constitution to detailed policy mandates that may not be appropriate in later years. Members of Congress should have the integrity to make the tough choices necessary to balance the budget--without a Constitutional Amendment. More and more economists are agreeing with Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin that a Constitutional Amendment would only subject the nation to an economic risk that is not necessary. It is not the same as states, many of which do have requirements for balanced budgets.
Rep. Kay Granger responds:
I believe that we should have a constitutional amendment to balance the federal budget. A balanced budget is more than just smart accounting. Balancing the budget will improve the quality of life for all Americans. It will change the face of Washington. No longer will Congress be able to simply throw money at a problem in order to score political points, with little or no concern for whether or not the money is well spent.
Congress will have to review the programs that are on the books, and see where the money is accomplishing something, and where it is simply wasted. A balanced budget amendment, like nothing in law today, will force a top-down review of federal spending programs that is long overdue.