Oppose Balanced Budget Amendment

Media 06.1.11

Recipient: U.S. House of Representatives

Dear Representative:
On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, we write to express our opposition to H.J.Res.1, H.J.Res.2, or any other proposed balanced budget amendment (BBA) to our Constitution. While the notion of a BBA may have a certain political appeal, its impact in reality would be disastrous for the economy as a whole and for the communities we represent.
The BBA in its various forms would require a balanced budget every year, regardless of the state of the economy. While it punts on the specifics, it would require extreme spending cuts precisely when the economy is at its weakest and government revenues are at their lowest, preventing the government from resorting to countercyclical policies right when they are needed most. As a result, the BBA would tip a struggling economy into a recession and would keep it there for a protracted period of time.
Moreover, the various proposals on the table would require a supermajority to increase revenues – even in order to close outrageous loopholes or to end corporate welfare in the form of tax expenditures. Such a requirement would virtually guarantee that in the event of any shortfall, the budget would be balanced on the backs of people who can least afford it.
H.J.Res.1 is even more extreme than other versions of the BBA. It would require a supermajority of two-thirds in each chamber to increase revenues, and would drastically reduce government expenditures overall to 18 percent of GDP, a level not seen in decades. Taken together, these provisions would force massive if not devastating cuts in many of our most important governmental functions and programs, cuts that have clearly not yet been fully thought out by proponents.
For these reasons, we urge you to oppose H.J.Res.1, H.J.Res.2, or any other balanced budget amendment – either as a free standing proposal or as a prerequisite to raising the debt ceiling. Thank you for your consideration.

Wade Henderson
President & CEO

Nancy Zirkin
Executive Vice President