White House opposes GOP-led balanced budget amendment

The White House on Tuesday announced it opposes a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution that is coming to a vote in the House later this week.

President Obama does not need to sign a proposed Constitutional amendment, which is sent directly to the states for ratification if two-thirds of the House and Senate approve of it. Because of this, the statement of administration policy does not include a veto threat.

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In making the announcement the White House is seeking to rally House Democrats against the proposal.

The office of Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), sponsor of the amendment, said that dozens of Democrats are prepared to vote in favor of the BBA. The version being voted on has been designed to appeal to Democrats and it is identical to a BBA that almost passed the Congress in the 1990s.

The House GOP needs at least 48 Democrats to vote for the BBA in order to meet the two-thirds threshold.

The White House argues that “H. J. Res. 2 would impose serious risks for our economy” and that if it had been in place during the recent recession it could have blocked the Obama stimulus package and the U.S. could be in a second Great Depression


It says that the amendment, by forbidding deficit spending, would “accelerate economic downturns by requiring the government to raise taxes and cut spending in the face of a contraction, which would accelerate job losses.”

The White House also argues that the BBA would turn fiscal policy over to the courts, which would be brought in to decide if balanced budgets were in place.

It argues that requiring a balanced budget could result in draconian cuts to Social Security and Medicare.

“H. J. Res. 2 is not a solution to the Nation's deficits.  The Administration is committed to working with the Congress on a bipartisan basis to achieve real deficit reduction,” the White House says.