Congressman Pete Olson

Representing the 22nd District of Texas

The Case for a Balanced Budget Amendment

September 16, 2011
Op-Ed

Fort Bend Sun
The case for a balanced budget amendment

By: Rep. Pete Olson

Every week as families sit down to pay bills and balance their checkbooks, they must reconcile what they spend with the income they bring into their homes.

In this negative economy, Americans from all walks of life have been forced to dramatically cut spending on staples like food, clothing and gas. For the millions without a job, it means that their families are struggling just to stay in their homes and keep the lights on.

As the economy turned sour, revenue at the state and federal levels dropped significantly. As a result, the 49 states with a balanced budget requirement were forced to make tough spending cuts. There were heated battles over spending cuts right here in Texas that were necessary to balance our state budget.

Yet, when it comes to the federal government, instead of cutting back, the president and congressional Democrats chose to dangerously escalate spending. For over two years, they insisted that the $860 billion stimulus spending bill would result in job growth and economic prosperity, yet unemployment remains at over 9.1 percent and America is $14.3 trillion in debt. In just two and half years, President Obama increased our national debt by $3.95 trillion - a feat that took 42 presidents more than 200 years to achieve.

Both parties share blame for not reigning in spending, but the escalation under full Democrat control has left a burden of debt that our children and grandchildren may well spend a lifetime repaying. For the first time in the history of this great nation, we are in danger of handing our children a lower quality of life than we have enjoyed. That possibility is shameful and inexcusable.

In light of this government's behavior under both Democrat and Republican control, the answer is clear. America needs a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution. This is a necessary mechanism that will truly force Congress and the White House to live within their means.

Sixteen years ago, a Balanced Budget Amendment passed the House with bipartisan support, only to lose by one vote in the U.S. Senate. The good news today is that the House and the Senate are required by law to vote on a balanced budget amendment before the end of this year. The bad news is that with a 2/3 majority required to pass a constitutional amendment, it might not pass. Tragically, many in Congress are too addicted to the notion of spend, spend, spend, that they will oppose this good government solution.

Texas is forced to balance its budget and does so without a state income tax. This is a key reason that almost half of all of the jobs that have been created in this nation since the recession began have come from our great state. Families are forced to live under a balanced budget or suffer serious consequences and the federal government must do the same. We have seen the consequences of unchecked, reckless spending.

The only permanent solution is to enshrine a Balanced Budget Amendment in the Constitution and legally force future Congresses and Presidents to stop spending money they don’t have. Pete Olson, R-Sugar Land, represents Texas 22nd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.