A balanced budget amendment (BBA), a hardy perennial in Congress, is once again in the headlines. The balanced budget amendment said Congress can't spend more than it makes, but it can be waived with votes from three-fifths of the House and Senate. Chye-Ching Huang and Krista Ruffini (“Proposed Balanced Budget Amendment is Extreme by International Standards,” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, May 3, 2013) make a similar point. To see why a balanced budget amendment would undermine stability, we need to understand how the budget affects the business cycle, and how the business cycle affects the budget. Bio. Res. Former columnist focusing on economics. BALANCED budgets are generally good, but not always, which is why a balanced-budget amendment is a bad idea. Arguments Against a Balanced Budget Law . Many conservatives have suggested passing a law or even a Constitutional amendment requiring the government to balance its budget. About nine months ago, I learned that Vermont was the only state not have a balanced budget law in the process of answering the following question: answer to Why is the Balanced Budget Amendment bad? … This is entirely understandable. Those against a balanced budget amendment believe that it would not only tie hands politically, but represents bad economics in general. The amendment would make it unconstitutional for the federal government to run annual budget deficits. My “Lock-In Provision” answers this important objection, since it does not require the budget to balance in every single year. The public trusts neither the president nor Congress, regardless of the party in control, to strike and maintain an economically healthy, sustainable balance between federal spending and revenues. So instead of a balanced budget amendment I propose a better idea might be an unbalanced budget amendment. Although widely credited for being the last administration to achieve budgetary surpluses (1998-2001), President Bill Clinton was openly against a balanced budget amendment. Like now, an unbalance budget amendment … In its simplest form, a balanced budget amendment would add a budget rule to the Constitution that would require federal spending not to exceed federal receipts. Members of Congress have proposed almost a dozen constitutional amendments this year requiring a balanced budget, all of which share serious drawbacks. Rep. Ben McAdams introduced the latest balanced budget amendment (BBA), H.J. When we look at the pattern of federal receipts and outlays over time, as shown in the following chart, we see a lot of ups and downs. A balanced-budget amendment: Bad idea, for many reasons. 55, and it shows both that BBAs are fundamentally flawed and that attempts to fix them invariably don’t succeed at doing that. Robert J. Samuelson. By Robert J. Samuelson. 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