Diverse Groups Oppose Resolution Calling for Balanced Budget Amendment

Tuesday, February 25, 2014 at 7:23 PM by

A broad range of Wisconsin organizations sent a letter to state senators today in opposition to the resolution (AJR 81) calling for a Constitutional Convention on a balanced budget amendment.  The letter raises substantive concerns about putting a balanced budget amendment into the U.S. Constitution and procedural concerns about the risks of holding a convention to amend the Constitution for the first time in over 225 years.   It cites the trepidations expressed by Constitutional experts regarding the unpredictability of what might emerge from a Constitutional amendments convention.  

The substantive concerns about a balanced budget requirement include the following: 

  • It would deepen and lengthen recessions by making it extremely difficult for federal lawmakers to increase spending when it is most needed for counter-cyclical safety net programs, such as food stamps, unemployment insurance, and Medicaid.  “Since tax revenue typically falls as the need for those programs rises, a balanced budget would require either making cuts to these safety net programs and other areas of spending at the worst possible time, or increasing taxes at a bad time for the economy.”
  • “…Depending on how it is written, a balanced budget amendment might also make it very difficult for Congress to respond to national disasters and other emergencies. Imagine the currently gridlocked Congress trying to find savings to pay for disaster relief or an unexpected military operation.” 
  • “… a balanced budget amendment is likely to require deep cuts to Social Security benefits and/or substantial increases in Social Security taxes, particularly if the amendment includes a provision capping spending at the amount of new revenue each year. “ 

The groups signing the letter are:  

  • AFSCME Councils 24, 40 and 48
  • Citizen Action of Wisconsin
  • Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups
  • Community Advocates Public Policy Institute
  • Institute for Wisconsin’s Future
  • League of Women Voters of Wisconsin
  • National Assn. of Social Workers – WI Chapter
  • One Wisconsin Now
  • SEIU Wisconsin State Council
  • The Madison Institute
  • Wisconsin Alliance for Retired Americans
  • Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health
  • Wisconsin Council of Churches 
  • Wisconsin Council on Children and Families
  • Wisconsin State AFL-CIO   

Read more about the proposed amendment in this recent article in the Progressive.   

Jon Peacock



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