Politics: Budget Proposal Unbalanced
The Scales of Justice
A balanced budget amendment is a bad idea, and most legislators know it.
There's only one reason any legislator would vote for a balanced budget amendment -- politics!
Any legislator who would cast a ballot that endangers the heart and soul of our republic is, at best, unwise.
Budget problems abound, but a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget is not the answer. Our legislators already have the power to balance the budget if they believe it to be in the best interests of the country.
The founders of our country knew our Constitution would have to provide for a representative democracy if our noble experiment were to succeed -- even though the nation's population in those days was relatively small.
Despite their belief in individual freedom, and an abiding determination to be free of the tyrannies of the past, those great men framed a representative government. They were well aware it would not be possible to have a perfect democracy in which citizens cast votes for themselves on every issue.
Today, our representatives often come under heavy attack for their votes on a wide variety of issues, but the truth is, we simply can't get along without them (although sometimes we wish we could.)
With our country's population now at (about 265) million, it's simplistic to think we can be governed in any other way.
Bitter Politics on the Rise
Increasingly bitter politics has made the job of elected officials less enviable than at any time in the past, and if we are to encourage our best and brightest to run for office we need to be more respectful of those offices, even when we hold individual incumbents in less than high esteem.
Who would want to sacrifice his time and, perhaps, money to seek a legislative seat only to make decisions on minor issues? What kind of man or woman would run for a position that doesn't offer significant input on budgets?
Why tie the hands of legislators on the most important aspect of their job: deciding what programs are needed and how much funding we can afford for each?
Let Pollsters Decide?
These decisions have a bearing on the economy as well. If we're going to restrict our representatives' budget powers and, perhaps, limit their terms of office, we might as well throw out the Constitution and disband both houses of congress; let a pollster decide how we spend our money!
If we hope to have the kind of government we deserve, the president and the congress must preserve the flexibility to make decisions they believe to be essential for national security, not only militarily, but also economically and socially.
Any representative worth his salt votes for what he believes is best in the long run for his constituents; trying to put our two cents in on issues few of us know much about only aggravates an already touchy situation.
Let's hope our congressmen think this issue through clearly and vote down any effort to force through a balanced budget amendment. And, if it should pass, let's hope the states have enough wisdom to let the issue die a natural death.
I wrote this column as a "My View" for The Hour newspaper of Norwalk, Conn., on Feb. 5, 1997. I now write my views on a wide variety of topics on HubPages.