But as it turns out, our shot ourselves in the foot in November - whether because of general apathy or because Obama did not cure everything in two years - and the Republicans got at least they got part of the keys back. And when they did, they saw an opportunity not to simply make government dysfunctional but to root out the very fundamental premise of American society: a social compact that protects children, the poor and the elderly, ensures public safety, and provides the necessary infrastructure for a thriving economy. And to be fair about this, President Obama warned us about this last year when idiots and self-promoters on the Professional Left were running around making sure our side didn't vote.
If you thought gaining power, Republicans would be satisfied with making the government dysfunctional simply legislatively, you are soooo wrong. No, now that they have some power and more abilities to hold the American people hostage, they want to write destruction of America as we know it into the Constitution of the United States. In an amendment that might as well repeal the pre-amble of the Constitution, the GOP delares that government should now and forever be dysfunctional. They are calling it the "balanced budget amendment." Only, it's not simply an amendment to require Congress to balance the budget. No, that would make Congress actually have to work and compromise and stuff, you see. No, this Dysfunctional Government Amendment ensures that Americans are forbidden from entering into social and generational compacts, and that the ones we are in now (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, assistance for students, children and the working poor) are eliminated.
Here's how it starts to break the government:
SECTION 1. Total outlays for any fiscal year shall not exceed total receipts for that fiscal year, unless two thirds of the duly chosen and sworn Members of each House of Congress shall provide by law for a specific excess of outlays over receipts by a roll call vote.Let's ignore the fact for a moment that in the last couple of decades, federal outlays have always been in the 20-something-percent of GDP range, through Democratic and Republican presidents and Congresses. At least, this means the government can bring in 18% of the GDP in revenue to match the outlay, which hasn't happened in the recent recession, right? Of course not. What, you didn't actually expect the so-called "balanced" budget amendment to be balanced, did you? Here's the looksie on the revenue side:
SECTION 2: Total outlays for any fiscal year shall not exceed 18 percent of the gross domestic product of the United States for the calendar year ending before the beginning of such fiscal year, unless two-thirds of the duly chosen and sworn Members of each House of Congress shall provide by law for a specific amount in excess of such 18 percent by a roll call vote.
Any bill that imposes a new tax or increases the statutory rate of any tax or the aggregate amount of revenue may pass only by a two-thirds majority of the duly chosen and sworn Members of each House of Congress by a roll call vote.To summarize, spending in any given year cannot be more than 18% of GDP in the previous year, and not only can taxes not be raised, there cannot even be changes to the tax code that closes loopholes for giant corporations and multimillionaires. A supermajority - which will happen, uhh, let's see, never - is required to close corporate jet tax loopholes, but killing Medicare and Social Security? It only needs a majority vote. Actually, it doesn't even need a majority vote. Those are basically starved to death.
Oh, by the way, during a declaration of war, Congress can, by a majority vote (or during a military conflict that's not a declared war, by a 60% vote), waive the spending caps, but not the portion about additional revenue. Isn't that nice? They are allowing us to fight wars on the credit card - oh how very compassionate of them! Oh and another thing, if you can never raise revenue, and we have presumably fight wars on the credit card, just how does that war debt get paid back? Oh, I see. By taking on more debt. But wait. What's this?
The limit on the debt of the United States shall not be increased, unless three-fifths of the duly chosen and sworn Members of each House of Congress shall provide for such an increase by a roll call vote.So... it's also next to impossible to raise the debt limit. Hmm. Let's see: you can't take in more revenue nor borrow more money in order to pay for war expenses that Congress to authorizes beyond the spending cap. So how do you pay that war debt? You default. Or, you eliminate (or severely cut) Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and assistance for homeowners, students, children and the working poor. Not enough? Well, you then need to eliminate drug and food safety, clean water and clean air standards, and of course, disaster protection (that's right, there is no exceptions for natural calamities or emergencies, only for war). Also, forget about those roads and bridges and investment broadband Internet. Information superhighway? Who needs it? You're not going to need it where the GOP wants to take you.
And what if you have a war during a recession? Well, you are screwed even more. The limit on spending goes down (due to recessionary decrease in GDP) at the same time the need for services goes up (oh iono, maybe the unemployed need unemployment benefits?) and we borrowed extra money to pay for the war. So even more severe cuts in public, food and environmental safety, and in maintaining or building infrastructure (physical and broadband) and worse slashing - if they manage to even survive - to social safety nets. In other words, the Republican perfect storm.
And that's the goal. This amendment has nothing whatsoever to do with fiscal discipline, or actually balancing the budget, or ensuring that the United States pays its bills, builds a society worthy of our credo (Out of many, one), or any such thing. This has to do with dismantling the very nature of our country. In a country whose founders explicitly defined the general welfare of the people as one purpose to form this country and its government, one political party now seeks to ensure that the tax welfare state for the super rich and multinational corporation and the military industrial complex are strengthened while the building blocks and founding ideals of this country - the commitment to our social responsibility to each other, to a strong foundation of education for those who are willing to work hard, and public, environmental and consumer safety, and the protection of the most vulnerable - are destroyed right along with our capacity to respond in a natural calamity.
Those who can pay for education will have it; the rest will have to do with crums, no matter how hard you are willing to work. Those who can inherit and profit will have money; those who will have lost everything thanks to the irresponsibility of the former group will be left on the street. Those who can pay for medical care will be treated; those who cannot - including children - will be left to die. Those who can pay for their own police and fire protection will have it; those who cannot will be ravaged. The government will be unable to ensure the safety of the food you buy, or the water you drink. Of course, if you can pay a few times more for your food and water (make sure you only drink bottled water), you might still be fine.
Make no mistake: this amendment that the Republicans are trying to force down the throats of Congress and the American people will take us from the goal of a more perfect union to an oligarchic state of the the Have Not's and the Have More's; from freedom to wage slaves and wage masters, from a government handicapped by legislative gridlock to a constitutionally enforced swampland.