Talk:Balanced Budget Amendment

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I don't think this article should present the proposal as that outlandish. Many European countries have recently enacted such amendments, though I don't think they are in effect anywhere yet due to grace periods. And looking at Wiki it says all US states except Vermont have such a clause, too. Of course, if it isn't actually fiscal woo, "pseudolaw" or "centrist stupidity" then this raises the question if the wiki even needs this article... Octo8 (talk) 06:18, 21 August 2014 (UTC)

I don't think looking to Europe for fiscal advice is really credible at the moment. While it is generally preferable to balance your budget over the course of a business cycle (taking in more during boom times, paying out more during a recession), keeping the government from being able to pay out more during a recession is a bad idea, as it gives up one of the most important ways that the government can fight a prolonged recession, especially in a recession like the most recent one. (We can see this by comparing US vs. European recoveries from the financial crisis.) This isn't even "centrist stupidity," as even most centrists in the US know this is a bad idea. Researcher (talk) 13:51, 9 August 2015 (UTC)

Keeping the government from being able to pay out more during a recession is a bad idea, but allowing the government to run massive average deficits is an even worse one.— Unsigned, by: TripleO / talk / contribs

Right. So you don't fix the worse idea with a bad one. You fix it with proportional solutions that actually solve the problems they're supposed to. ikanreed You probably didn't deserve that 20:46, 27 August 2015 (UTC)
As a warning to other editors, the recent changes by TripleO need more cleaning up. I got rid of that particularly awful last sentence, but the whole thing has a quesitonable bent. Not specifically bad, but needs more review. ikanreed You probably didn't deserve that 20:51, 27 August 2015 (UTC)

Don't let the best be the enemy of the good. Sometimes bad is the best you can do. There are many better solutions, but I don't see any of them happening. — Unsigned, by: TripleO / talk / contribs 21:07, 27 August 2015 (UTC)

That's true, but at the same time you don't want to incorporate an illogical and destructive restriction into the fundamental fabric of your nation's government. Just look at how the second amendment turned out. ikanreed You probably didn't deserve that 21:15, 27 August 2015 (UTC)

It's clearly not illogical, the idea has no logical contradictions and is based on reality. Destructive is debatable, it would clearly do both harm and good.

Also, why is this marked as pseudolaw, I don't know of any legal misconceptions associated with the balanced budget amendment.— Unsigned, by: TripleO / talk / contribs

I think it needs to be said that the failure of the folly of balanced budgets and low inflation can currently be seen in the Eurozone Avengerofthe BoN (talk) 21:40, 27 August 2015 (UTC)

Eurozone shows both the cost of balanced budgets and the higher cost of having large average deficits. Pick your problem. Greece shows what happens when you hit a debt of 200% of GDP. Granted the US can print money while Greece can't, but printing money to make ends meet always ends in disaster.

If you take is as a given that the government won't reduce spending while the government is doing well, then your choices are either have a balanced budget or a continual deficit, and a balanced budget is clearly economically superior. Keynesian economics only works if the government is willing to run a surplus in good times, otherwise it produces a short term benefit, a medium term detriment, and a long term disaster.

If the government could somehow manage to only run a small average deficit we could avoid the long term disaster, but we'd still be worse off that if we had a balanced budget.

The only policy superior to a balanced budget is to spend more/tax less during a recession while maintaining at most a small average deficit. Since no first world democracy has been willing to do this, a balanced budget is the best option left.--TripleO (talk) 18:02, 7 October 2015 (UTC) Let not the best be the enemy of the better.

Also, Greece bating deals with the welfare state, it doesn't apply here. Greece is a relevant example of what happens if you go to far into debt, the error people make with Greece is blaming its problems on other things.--TripleO-Let not the best be the enemy of the better 18:24, 7 October 2015 (UTC)

Um yeah, besides Keynes stating more than that, the general idea is deficit spending during bad times to boost the economy...and using surpluses during the good times to pay it off. Depending on how it's structured a balanced budget amendment usually will do the opposite as when tax revenues decrease spending will be cut...resulting in more job losses and aggregate spending decreasing proven to lengthen a depression. This was shown in 1929 under Hoover with the "rugged individualism" mantra. -EmeraldCityWanderer (talk) 18:45, 7 October 2015 (UTC)

The basic argument against a balanced budget amendment is that it prevents deficit spending during bad times to boost the economy...and using surpluses during the good times to pay it off, but this argument is invalid because the government doesn't do that anyway. Besides, with the current debt the best economic policy would be to run a large surplus during the good times and no surplus during the bad times, which would be allowed under a balanced budget amendment. This would provided the benefit of Keynes economics while paying off the debt. --TripleO-Let not the best be the enemy of the better 20:24, 14 October 2015 (UTC)

That sounds nice, but how would that actually work? Having that with vague enough wording on policy will place everything right back to where it was. It's also nearly impossible to run without a deficit or debt (historically) in US history it's happened once for a very short amount of time till Andrew Jackson reluctantly had to do it again. -EmeraldCityWanderer (talk) 20:38, 14 October 2015 (UTC)

It probably wouldn't fully work, a responsible congress willing to make short term sacrifices for long term benefit is required for the best outcomes, but an Amendment requiring 0 deficit after 2020 would prevent the Greece like debt collapse our current deficit spending patterns are leading to, while allowing Keynesian economics if we somehow got a congress responsible enough to implement it properly. It would likely result in worsening recessions, but that's better than debt collapse. Another way to word the amendment would be to write a debt ceiling in to the constitution with provision for reducing spending if you hit it.--TripleO-Let not the best be the enemy of the better 14:59, 15 October 2015 (UTC)

That wasn't what I asked at all. How would that actually work? is a direct copy of the question above. All you are saying is that it's not perfect, but if we don't then bad things will happen. I want the provisions. -EmeraldCityWanderer (talk) 16:55, 15 October 2015 (UTC)

Are you asking for exact amendment language? I'll take a stab at good wording. Perhaps "Total federal government spending after 2020 AD shall not exceed total federal government revenue after 2020 AD. This rule may be suspended for one year by a 4/5th vote in both the house and senate." Or maybe "Spending shall not be authorized if it will cause total federal government debt to exceed an amount equivalent to the value of 25 trillion US dollars in 2015. This rule may be suspended for one year by a 4/5th vote in both the house and senate."

I'm not sure exactly what congress will do without a balanced budget amendment, but it's notable all the presidential candidates proposals for dealing with the deficit amount to "Massively increase the deficit immediately, and hope something happens later to balance the budget" --TripleO-Let not the best be the enemy of the better 18:24, 15 October 2015 (UTC)

However, that's the problem people have been attempting to solve since the founding of this nation. The idea sounds great till it comes down to how the to do it. Extolling the passing an amendment that no one has any idea how to make work is absurd. It's like championing the creation of a faster than light spaceship drive...that's nice, everyone is pretty much in agreement, get to work figuring out how to make it work. -EmeraldCityWanderer (talk) 18:49, 15 October 2015 (UTC)

I just proposed a couple of ways to make it work, what's wrong with my proposed wording? --TripleO-Let not the best be the enemy of the better 19:25, 15 October 2015 (UTC)

"Total federal government spending after 2020 AD shall not exceed total federal government revenue after 2020 AD. This rule may be suspended for one year by a 4/5th vote in both the house and senate." How is this intended? Cuts? Increases in revenue? Does that vary in circumstances of the country? Is there a limit to the cuts/increases or where? That's exactly what I asked you before and you keep just hand waving it away like they will just figure it out...somehow.
It's easy as hell to talk in vague proclamations hoping someone else will figure out the details. -EmeraldCityWanderer (talk) 19:34, 15 October 2015 (UTC)

The point of a balanced budget amendment is to force Congress to figure out the details. There are many ways to balance the budget, Congress just isn't willing to pick one. It's not a vague proclamation, it's a constitutional restriction, and it's not hoping someone else will figure out the details, it's forcing Congress to. You seem to be confusing a constitutional amendment with a proposed policy. If I was simply proposing a balanced budget your objections would be valid. If I appear to have been dodging your questions it's just because I've been accidently misinterpreting them.--TripleO-Let not the best be the enemy of the better 21:00, 15 October 2015 (UTC)

Yes, and I am thinking of 2 centuries of people trying to do just this in different ways and succeeding for a single year. Obviously the ideal is admirable, and it's universally acknowledged as a good idea, but no one has figured out how in detail. Requiring people to do the nearly impossible is a sure fire way to really fuck things up.
I am with you in principal. However, with just saying the smart people can figure it out is kind of a cop out to how hard this actually is to do. I am more worried about how it would be done than what it does. -EmeraldCityWanderer (talk) 21:11, 15 October 2015 (UTC)

Lots of people have figured out ways to balance the budget, it's trivially easy, for example simply eliminating Medicare payments would do it (not saying we should, just that it would work). The tough part is getting Congress to accept one of the ways, and the balanced budget amendment would fix that.--TripleO-Let not the best be the enemy of the better 21:58, 15 October 2015 (UTC)