Monday, November 6, 2017

GOP Congress can't balance budget. So why is WisGOP making them?

Tomorrow, the Wisconsin State Senate is scheduled to take up the topic of having Wisconsin sign on to a Constitutional Convention, under Article V of the US Constitution. The resolution claims that it is "for the limited purpose of requiring the federal government to operate under a balanced budget", but anything could be added to that "Balanced Budget" Amendment. And given that its companion bill is written in such a way to make Wisconsin's delegates to such a convention be selected by the heavily GOP-gerrymandered Legislature, this stunt should not be thought of as anything but a self-centered power-grab.

In addition to the obvious danger of one political party dominating a Constitutional Convention, Wisconsin isn't even living up to the "balanced budget" requirements that the convention is allegedly supposed to be about. Not only is the Wisconsin budget slated to spend more money that it takes in for both Fiscal Year 2018 and 2019, but we are borrowing on top of that. Heck, Wisconsin is borrowing another $277 million from the General Fund next week.

In addition, we are borrowing more money from the debt-ridden Transportation Fund for road projects, since GOP legislators and Governor Walker refuse to raise taxes to pay for those needed projects. All of this new borrowing is on top of the record state debt that was reached under Walker and WisGOP in 2016.

And the timing of this "Balanced Budget" request is especially bizarre. They're debating this bill less than a week after the Republicans in Congress finally released their "tax reform" bill that will blow up the deficit by a total of $1.5 trillion over the next decade. That includes the tax HIKES that the working and middle classes are going to have to pay with that scam.

Adding to the deficit will complicate a budget situation that has worsened since the Republicans took over both houses of Congress. In those 2 years, the federal deficit has gone up by $228 billion - more than 50%.

So why the Republicans in Wisconsin are drawing attention to the fiscal failures of Paul Ryan and the rest of the GOPs in Congress is beyond me, but that would be if you took the ALEC crew in Wisconsin at face value. In fact, this Article V effort has a much more nefarious agenda behind it.

As the Wisconsin Budget Project has consistently pointed out, this whole Article V Convention tactic is a Koch-ALEC effort to mess up the country even more than it already is. And even if the convention were limited to a Balanced Budget Amendment that GOPs have not been able to live up to at the state or federal levels, the Budget Project notes that it would cause severe fiscal handcuffs leading to unnecessary damage to millions of Americans.
A Balanced Budget Amendment would make recessions deeper and longer. Requiring a balanced budget every year, no matter the state of the economy, would tip weak economies into recession and make recessions longer and deeper, causing very large job losses. Requiring every budget to be balanced could also make it harder to respond adequately to costly disasters like hurricanes or earthquakes.

• Important federally funded programs, such as Medicare and Social Security, would be vulnerable to cuts. To balance the budget every year, even during recessions, Congress would be under immense pressure to cut funding for a wide range of federal programs, leaving funding for important priorities — including education, disease control, food safety, assistance for vulnerable families and individuals, and even Medicare and Social Security — vulnerable to damaging cuts.

• Federal budget cuts would harm state and local priorities. Federal grants account for about a third of all state government revenues. At a time when demands for services such as education, health care, and environmental protection are expanding, cuts in aid to state and local governments would force states to either raise revenues, eliminate programs, or shift spending within state budgets to make up federal losses. Because elementary and secondary education is generally the largest component of state budgets, it would be especially vulnerable to large cuts.
THIS is the real agenda of this Article V crap. To rig things in such a way that laws and policies are slanted to fulfill the dreams of right-wing oligarchs, including disastrous fiscal policy through a Balanced Budget Amendment to require Social Security and health care cuts that are unacceptable to the voting public. We've already seen how austerity in Wisconsin (well, austerity for public education and local government, anyway) has left us far behind the rest of the country for job growth, so why would we impose this failed idea on the rest of the country?

Do not fall for this garbage. Republicans are not serious about good fiscal policy at either the state or federal level. And anyone who votes for this Article V BS should be drummed out of office by anyone with an ounce of common sense.


  1. When our country was formed, by people like Washington, Franklin, Madison, it had no provision that we could exist solely because we had a balanced budget.

    Then came the Civil War, when the Confederate States of America (the "Confederacy") demanded a balanced budget.

    Then came 1995 when the Newt Gingrich/Rush Limbaugh and National Taxpayers Union crowd demanded it--Phil and Wendy Graham were supposedly your guidance. The Kochs are all a part of this...ask Eric O'Keefe, he knows...
    Your household budget somehow became equated with our national budget (just balancing your checkbook at the kitchen table).

    This is not true. Come on, stop this lie.

    1. The whole "balance your checkbook" analogy is also BS, because we use debt to pay for houses, cars, and everyday credit card purchases.

      If we counted state finances the same as we counted US finances, we'd have a "deficit" of hundreds of millions of dollars. It's either cynicism or fiscal illiteracy that keeps up this absurd meme.

  2. And here's the great Charlie Pierce calling out Wisconsin for passing this ALEC "Trojan Horse" yesterday.

    I'm so sick of this state being a national joke because of the dimwits that have been chosen to "represent" us.