Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A balanced budget amendment

A balanced budget amendment, certainly if anything like those that have been proposed, is a very bad idea. The current problem is that, because of the irresponsibility of the politicians, mainly those in Congress, the federal government is not in intelligent control of its budget. The proposed amendments would only substitute a different lack of intelligent control for the present kind -- except that as a part of the Constitution it would be an even harder problem to fix.

Should we really insist upon an amendment that promotes a balanced budget anyhow then it should provide that:

In the year following any year in which the total of all expenditures by the government of the United States and all its agencies exceeds the total of all its income:
(1) No member of Congress, nor the President or Vice President, may collect any compensation from the government other than reimbursement of expenses for official business.
(2) All of their other income shall be taxed at a rate of 90% with no deductions or exemptions of any kind.
(3) No member of Congress, nor the President or Vice President shall be eligible for reelection in that year.
However, this would leave unsolved, and may exacerbate, the problem of economy distorting off budget "tax expenditures" and the corruption of special interest influences that lead to them. Consequently there is a need for a fourth paragraph:

(4) The taxes collected from any person or organization may not vary by more than five percent from that determined by the primary applicable rate exclusive of deductions or exemptions.

This amendment is also a bad idea but I feel it is clearly far better than those that members of Congress have been willing to propose. I do not claim this as a product of personal brilliance. It was actually a pretty simple-minded exercise. That it is an improvement over those other proposals was made possible only because the Congressional amendment proposers are a pack of dangerous morons.

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