Monday, July 18, 2011

A legislative update from Congressman Mike Ross, D-Ar

I've been pretty hard on Mr. Ross lately and have written some pretty harsh letters to him in expressing my frustration and sense of hopelessness and utter lack of confidence in our Congress. And alway - ALWAYS - Mr. Ross writes back and is always - ALWAYS - very gracious in his responses. So I thought it fair to share what his weekly update contains. I don't always agree with Mr. Ross, but I do not question his integrity. I am confident that Arkansans will never wake up to his face and a corresponding scandal splashed across the front pages of our newspapers.

Dear Friends:

In the midst of the debt ceiling negotiations in Congress, we sometimes lose sight of the big picture. If Congress does nothing but simply raise the debt limit, we are ignoring the fundamental problem that spending is out of control and that we are once again kicking the can down the road until we hit the debt limit again.

Every time the United States approaches its debt limit, it creates problems in our economy. The uncertainty of America being able to pay its bills threatens our credit rating around the world, destabilizes the markets, stunts economic recovery and hurts job creation. So, the best and most commonsense way to ensure this debt limit problem never happens again is to require that Congress stop out-of-control deficit spending altogether.

That’s why I have cosponsored a balanced budget amendment to the United States Constitution, or H.J.Res. 10. In fact, I have helped introduce a balanced budget amendment in each and every session of Congress since I first arrived. I strongly believe in a balanced budget amendment because it is the only guaranteed way we can get our fiscal house back in order and prevent future fiscal irresponsibility.

H.J.Res.10 would require Congress to produce a balanced budget every fiscal year and would require the President to submit a balanced budget in his or her annual report to Congress. The amendment would also prohibit spending for a fiscal year to exceed revenues, unless, by a three-fifths roll call vote of the House and Senate, Congress authorizes a specific exemption.

The last time a balanced budget amendment was seriously considered was in 1995, when it passed the House but failed by a single vote in the Senate. An amendment to the U.S. Constitution proposed in Congress requires a two-thirds majority vote in both the House and Senate and must then be ratified by three-fourths of the states, or 38 states, or by a ratifying convention.

Some will argue that a balanced budget amendment isn’t practical. But, look at our state. Arkansas has a balanced budget amendment and prohibits deficit spending. The amendment has required our Governor and the state legislature to work together and, as a result, our state has consistently produced balanced budgets. I know it can be done because as a former state legislator, I made the tough decisions, took the tough votes and worked with members of both parties to reach a balanced budget for each of my ten years in the State Senate.

Back in the mid-1990s, President Clinton faced growing budget deficits, a ballooning national debt and a divided government with Republicans controlling Congress. Though they certainly had their battles, in the end, our nation achieved not only a balanced budget, but a budget surplus, effectively erasing the nation’s budget deficits for the first time in four decades. Though the budget surpluses didn’t last long after President Clinton left office, the experience taught us that by working together in a bipartisan manner, it is possible to balance the budget. It was done then and it can be done again.

I will continue to monitor the debt ceiling negotiations very closely, but I will also be looking long-term and working to pass a balanced budget amendment. Both sides will be forced to make concessions and I will continue to be a moderating voice, bringing everyone to the table as we find commonsense ideas that will help us return to the days of a balanced budget and a stronger economy.


Mike Ross


C.E. Bulice said...

I heard about this amendment (or one like it) on the radio today. It makes sense, but already people are trying to water it down or destroy altogether.
Somebody (or many somebodies) in Congress needs to get their mind right! We cannot continue in this direction forever. And, I think we cannot continue in this direction fiscally for more than a year or two before we collapse financially.

Michael said...

Maybe what you heard on the radio was a stipulation on the "cut, cap, and balance" proposal passed by the House that a balanced budget amendment be acted upon. You're right, though. Default is inevitable, as Ron Paul stated recently, because the debt itself is unsustainable.