Hatch: A balanced budget amendment is the only way forward in debt-limit debate

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) is urging lawmakers to back a balanced budget amendment, calling it the only way to get federal spending under control. 

“The solution to a spending crisis is not tax increases," Hatch said in the Republicans' weekly address. "Yet, Washington has consistently demonstrated that it cannot control its urge to spend."

"Only by restoring constitutional restraints on the ability of Congress to spend, can we constrain the growth of the federal government."

ADVERTISEMENT
The top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee and chief sponsor of a balanced budget amendment in the Senate, argued that the Obama administration doesn't want a constitutional amendment "because they want to keep spending the American people’s money."

"The only reason congressional Democrats would refuse to pass it is because they know the people of this country would rise up and quickly ratify it," he said.

He said all 47 Republicans senators back the proposal he's introduced with Sens. Mike Lee (Utah) and John Cornyn (Texas).

“Unfortunately, last week the White House dismissed a balanced budget amendment saying it is not good for the economy, and that our debt isn’t a constitutional issue," Hatch said.

That bill would require the president to submit and Congress to pass, a balanced budget every year. The measure, like the House plan, would limit spending to 18 percent of gross domestic product and require supermajorities in the House and Senate to raise taxes.

“Our nation is in the midst of one of the most critical debates in generations," Hatch said. "It is a debate about the size, scope, and shape of our national government." 

House Republicans said Friday they plan to consider a proposal next week to raise the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion after Congress passes a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. 

President Obama said Friday that he hadn't yet seen the proposal, but expected the House to vote on "a couple of things just to make political statements."

According to a summary shown to The Hill, the plan would cut $111 billion in fiscal 2012 and cap spending at 18 percent of gross domestic product by 2021. 

The $2.4 trillion increase in the debt ceiling would satisfy the president’s demand that the additional borrowing authority carry the nation through the 2012 elections.

The balanced budget amendment needs a two-thirds vote in each chamber. It cannot pass without the support of at least 48 Democrats in the House. It would then need to be approved by three-fourths of the states.

The Republican Study Committee's "Cut, Cap and Balance" proposal is much more stringent than a balanced-budget amendment from the 1990s because of the 18 percent GDP spending cap and the requirement for a two-thirds vote to raise taxes.

A balanced budget amendment passed the House in 1995 but failed to pass in the Senate.