Thursday, February 09, 2006

Balanced Budget Amendment

We interrupt this bout of political science-fiction to bring you an idea I think would actually be a good idea to implement today. The passage I would amend reads as follows. The part in bold is the addition I would make.

Section. 8.

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow Money on the credit of the United States in a time of war as declared by Congress;

To pay interest and principal on debts previously established;

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;

To establish Post Offices and post Roads;

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;

To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;

To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

To provide and maintain a Navy;

To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;--And

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

Why would I take away the power to borrow money except in times of war? The reasoning is simple. We have seen during the twentieth century that a democratically elected government that has this power will abuse it, guaranteed. It is a dangerous power to give to an unaccountable multitide. The democratic political process is such that it encourages high spending and low taxes, and I do not believe it is wise to count on the "widson" of either elected leaders or the voters to restrain the use of this power. Thus, I think that in most circumstances, it is wisest not to permit Congress to borrow money.

However, it is a power that is needed in times of emergency, and the only emergency I think it proper for the government to respond to in this manner is a threat from without. An invading army would use all financial resources available to it, and thus, so should our government. However, I do believe that, if our debt is kept down, there will be even more money avaiable to be borrowed in an emergency. This amendment would make the power to borrow even more powerful, since it wouldn't be wasted on frivolous political matters.

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