For the Record


The country is $35 trillion in debt and the debt is growing dramatically. The responsibility for this debt lies at the feet of one political party, the Democrats. Thirty years ago Republicans were trying hard to get a constitutional amendment approved that would force Congress to balance the budget each year. The Democrats were trying just as hard to make sure no such amendment was adopted.

Following is a column I wrote in 2010 that shows just how the parties showed their true colors. Had the Republicans prevailed, our national debt today would be $5 trillion, rather than $35 trillion.


For The Record 101310

Our right as Americans to worship God – or to not worship – is guaranteed by the First Amendment, which also guarantees our freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

Our right to keep and bear arms is protected – although that protection is under constant attack – by the Second Amendment.

Our right to be protected from politicians who would destroy our way of life by their wild and reckless spending is provided by the Twenty-eighth Amendment to the Constitution. We can only wish that were the case.

In 1995 Congress came within one vote of adopting a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, which would have been the Twenty-eighth Amendment. In the House, under the leadership of Speaker Newt Gingrich, 228 Republicans and 72 Democrats joined in approving the amendment by a vote of 300 to 132. Only two Republicans voted nay, while 129 Democrats voted against the amendment. The House vote came in January, just a few weeks after Republicans gained control on the basis of voter approval of their Contract with America, the centerpiece of which was the Balanced Budget Amendment.

There was not as much support for the amendment in the Senate as there was in the House. A vote in the Senate did not take place until March, giving Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole time to work on getting a two-thirds majority. The vote was a cliff-hanger, with 66 voting in favor and 34 against – one vote short of the necessary two-thirds. Only one Republican senator voted nay, while 33 Democrats voted that way.

Fifty-five Republicans voted in favor of the amendment and they were joined by 11 Democrats, one of whom was Vice President Joe Biden.

Some of those who voted against the amendment were Harry Reid of Nevada, who now appears to be in big trouble in his reelection effort. Another was Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, who, along with Rep. Barney Frank, is responsible for the billions of dollars wasted by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Dodd is so unpopular in his home state he chose not to run again. Other Democrats voting against the measure were Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein of California; Ted Kennedy and John Kerry of Massachusetts; North Dakota’s Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan; Robert Byrd and Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia; Barbara Mikulski of Maryland; Patrick Leahy of Vermont; Russ Feingold of Wisconsin. The latter is currently trailing his Republican opponent by 9 points.

The lone Republican to vote against the amendment was Mark Hatfield of Oregon. Bob Dole, who was running for president at the time, and Oren Hatch of Utah, two of Hatfield’s closest Senate friends, strongly urged him to vote in favor, but he would not do so. Some wrote about his vote as being a “profile in courage.” Others were very critical.

One interesting aspect of this lobbying effort was action taken by Hatfield’s son-in-law, who gave the senator a picture of his granddaughter with “For Her Sake!” written across the picture. The son-in-law, who worked for Sen. Hatch, could see the problem with deficit spending. His liberal father-in-law could not. After witnessing the spending of the past two years, it would be interesting to see what Hatfield would do if he could turn back the clock 15 years.

To give you a little showing of how insincere many Democrats are on this issue of spending, consider that one year and one day prior to the vote in the Senate, with the Democrats in control in that body, a Balanced Budget Amendment went down to defeat 63-37. Six Democrats that voted in favor of the almost-identical 1994 proposal, voted against the 1995 amendment when they knew that if any one of them voted in favor the measure would be sent to the people for approval. Democrats want you to believe they are for fiscal responsibility, but they aren’t.

A look at party platforms shows how the parties feel. In 1980 and 1984 the Democrat platform opposed a Balanced Budget Amendment. In later years the platform was silent about the amendment. The 1984 Democrat platform read: “We oppose the artificial and rigid Constitutional restraint of a balanced budget amendment.”

The Republican platform always supported the amendment.

If you are a Democrat, the company line goes something like this: “If a Balanced Budget Amendment is in place, any program that relies on discretionary spending, from Social Security to Head Start, would face unpredictable cuts, which in turn would cause untold suffering to the poor, the aged, and the young.”

My response is three-fold:

First, Barack Obama’s spending is about to cause untold suffering for everyone.

Second, I readily admit George Bush spent too much, but he would not have been able to spend the way he did if a Balanced Budget Amendment would have been in place. We must protect ourselves from the politicians, regardless of party.

Third, governments must stop living on the edge. Many governments — possibly most governments — have deficits or only token surpluses. Many states spend everything they take in, except for a paltry few million. When the economy turns down, they have to raise taxes. They have followed this policy so long it is now counter-productive, in that many tax increases actually result in the loss of revenue. State governments everywhere should do what many of the cities and villages in this county do…they keep enough money set aside to handle some hard times. That’s called prudence, a virtue seldom seen at the state level and never seen in Washington.