It's only Monday, but Senate Republicans have already found a new part of the Constitution they want to amend. Sen. Jim DeMint and others plan to introduce a balanced budget amendment in September, just to wow their base before November.
This is only the second very major constitutional amendment Senate Republicans have been pushing relentlessly in the past couple of weeks, so praise them for their restraint.
Scared-for-his-career Sen. Lindsey Graham first proposed changing the extremely important and carefully worded 14th Amendment to eliminate "birthright citizenship" in the case of illegal immigrants' children ("anchor babies") a couple of weeks ago. Many Senate Republicans signed on, because they want to rile up base voters for the election and have no intention of actually rewriting the 14th Amendment.
Now this: have the Constitution require balanced budgets, so as to make the Constitution more constitutional!
GOP Sens. Jim DeMint (S.C.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), John McCain (Ariz.) and Tom Coburn (Okla.) will lead the charge in the fall, when Democrats plan to debate raising taxes on families that earn more than $250,000 a year.
It's the latest campaign in a crusade that conservatives have waged for two decades.
They believe the proposal, which came within one vote of passing Congress in 1995, will gain new political traction in the weeks before the election, when federal deficits are a chief concern of many voters.
The amendment would bar the federal government from spending more than it collects in revenues each year. It would also require a two-thirds majority vote in each chamber to raise taxes.
Cute! It will be interesting to watch how they propose doing this in the next couple of years. Mandatory government spending, required by law — Medicaid/Medicare, Social Security, interest on national debt, primary — already nearly matches revenue in our current, famously shitty economy. So, since no tax hike will really ever come to fruition under a two-thirds majority rule (hi, California!), balancing the budget will require long-term, drastic changes to mandatory entitlement spending. We all expect a fiscal tightening soon enough. So: which entitlements will be thrown out under a mandated balanced budget, Jim DeMint et al.?
They know this amendment will go nowhere and they know it's not responsible anytime soon. So just keep that in mind as they lead us through this latest session of campaign season hokum disguised as legislative responsibility.
In fact, we should have a constitutional amendment to ban the introduction of constitutional amendments in election years. Or even the talk of them. Basically, Jim DeMint should be required by the Constitution to shut up about everything.
[Image via Shutterstock]