Issues / Legislation » Federal Budget & Taxes

AFSCME’s Position – Balanced Budget Amendment

The Balanced Budget Amendment is a Bad Idea

A constitutional balanced budget amendment would be a simplistic answer to a complicated issue and would serve only to weaken our economy and move us away from fiscal responsibility.  A constitutional amendment is not the answer to deficit reduction, and is in fact more likely to damage the economy than improve it.

  • A Balanced Budget Amendment Would Make A Bad Economy Worse:  It would require large spending cuts or tax increases during economic downturns, precisely the opposite of what is needed to stabilize the economy and avert recessions.
  • A Balanced Budget Amendment Would Inevitably Result In Major Cuts In Education, Homeland Security, Labor Enforcement And Transportation Programs:  Any cuts made to accommodate a mandated balanced budget would fall most heavily on domestic discretionary programs, but ultimately, there would be no way to achieve a balanced budget without cuts in Social Security and other entitlement programs as well.
  • A Balanced Budget Amendment Would Hurt Unemployed People The Most:  National economic considerations aside, much of the increased federal budget spending that automatically takes place during a recession benefits the unemployed, the people most adversely affected by an economic downturn.  A balanced budget amendment would likely force cuts in spending on this population precisely when they need help the most.
  • A Balanced Budget Amendment Would Inaugurate An Era Of Judicial Budget Making:  A balanced budget amendment would bring the courts into day-to-day budget decisions, stripping away much of the budget-making power intentionally given to Congress by our Founding Fathers in the Constitution.  Budgets should be made by officials elected by the people, not unelected court officials with no economic or budget expertise.
  • A Balanced Budget Amendment Is Not Needed:  A Constitutional amendment is not needed to achieve deficit reduction – only the political will to do so.  In the 1990s, Congress and the President reached agreement on a deficit reduction package which when combined with a strong economy, produced record budget surpluses.