U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., introduced a proposal Wednesday to amend the Constitution to require a balanced budget. If the president fails to enforce the amendment, it would make him subject to impeachment.
Brooks’ Protecting America’s Solvency Act, HR-371, would give Congress and the president five years to balance to budget — and keep it there. In an added shot in the arm, it would allow for two $1 trillion debt-ceiling hikes — one after congressional approval and the second after the states ratify the amendment.
“The President may not order any increase in taxes or other revenue measures to enforce the Amendment,” the bill reads, according to The Hill. “A President’s failure to prevent a prohibited fiscal year deficit is an impeachable offense.”
“I have learned from experience that unless there is penalty, there is a significant risk that the executive, or for that matter the Senate or the House, won’t do it,” Brooks told The Hill.
The measure does allow for extraordinary, unforeseen circumstances. In times of war, when most deficits occur, the provisions can be suspended by a simple majority vote in both houses. In peacetime, it would require a four-fifths vote.
The amendment process is set forth in Article V of the Constitution, which requires a two-thirds supermajority vote in both the House and Senate, followed by ratification of three-fourths of the states.
In other words, it would require the approval of 290 House members and 67 senators. Thirty-eight states would then have to ratify the amendment.
I have no doubt but that we could get 38 states to approve in no time. As Brooks told The Hill: “Most states have a balanced-budget requirement. In all states, it’s incumbent on the governor to ensure that spending equals revenue during the fiscal year.”
But it’s difficult to imagine all those members of Congress — from both parties — agreeing to curtail their own spending addiction.
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