Senator Enzi and Rep. Allen
March 5, 1997
in this forum:
Is there really bipartisanship in Congress? Who cares about the White House fund-raising scandal? Should there be free air time for candidates? Why can't Congress pass the balanced budget amendment? SEN. ENZI: Should Congress "frivolously" amend the Constitution? REP. ALLEN: How likely is REAL campaign reform? SEN. ENZI: Is Congress covering up a lack of personal political responsibility?
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A question from Kevin Burt of Cheyenne, WY:
Greetings from Wyoming, Senator!
As a Libertarian, I sincerely desire reduced government, and spending. I oppose the Balanced Budget Amendment, however.
1) The Constitution should not be frivolously amended, lest it look like the state constitution of our neighbors to the immediate south, Colorado.
2) The proposed amendment, quite frankly, seems a "gimmick" to me. A political "V-Chip?" I endorsed and voted for you with the charge that YOU would exercise the courage to make the admittedly painful cuts. I hold YOU responsible to do it. Why do we need a Constitutional Amendment?
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Senator Mike Enzi responds:
I am pleased that we have similar views of reduced government and spending. The issue you point out where we differ though, is the Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment.
First of all, I agree that the Constitution of the United States should not be frivolously amended. However, an annual federal budget of over $1.6 trillion and growing is not a frivolous concern. We have not heeded the words of Thomas Jefferson, one of our founding fathers, who in 1816 demonstrated his concern about the federal government's ability to control its spending when he said, "I place economy among the first and important virtues, and public debt as the greatest of dangers to be feared." The future of our children and grandchildren is also at stake here. The debt we are incurring for them amounts to taxation without representation. We mounted a revolution over that before!
The Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment would only be a "gimmick" if the loopholes created were large enough to invalidate the amendment. An amendment without any teeth, such as allowing Congress to waive the balanced budget requirement by a simple majority vote, would be easily exempted. The proposed Balanced Budget Amendment is not a "gimmick," and would require Congress and the President to stop playing political games and balance the budget every year.
I am committed to making the difficult decisions to balance the budget. Programs have to be prioritized, meaning some will be cut in order to balance the budget. You may hold me responsible for my part in unbalanced budgets. As you will remember from my campaign, I said the Balanced Budget Amendment would be essential to a collective will to balance the budget. I give you two examples of why we need a Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment to require Congress and the President to be personally responsible. The President claims his proposed budget contains a $17 billion surplus by fiscal year 2002. However, the Congressional Budget Office indicates that President Clinton's budget contains a deficit of $69 billion in fiscal year 2002. It also reports that 98 percent of the painful cuts to reduce the deficit occur after he leaves office. Additional proof of the need for a Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment lies in the twenty-eight consecutive years of deficit spending. I will keep working to pass a Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment to protect the American dream for future generations.