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For Immediate Release

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Balanced Budget Amendment "A Recipe for Economic Disaster"

Statement of AFSCME President Gerald W. McEntee on the Senate introduction of a balanced budget constitutional amendment

Washington, D.C. — 

“At a time when Americans need to pull together to deal with the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the entire membership of one party in the U.S. Senate defied logic today. They should be focused on creating jobs. Instead, they all joined as cosponsors of legislation that would amend the U.S. Constitution in a way that would destroy our nation's ability to help veterans, seniors, students, working families and those in most need of help during an economic emergency.

“If such an amendment were to pass it would absolutely wreck the U.S. economy. It is not a real solution to the problems we face. It would put the economy in a straightjacket, making it next to impossible to address changing economic circumstances. It would cripple the ability of the federal government to operate. It would hurt citizens who rely on services provided by all levels of governments while they still struggle through hard times caused by the greed of Wall Street CEOs and right-wing ideologues.

“The amendment does not reflect the basic values of America. It would write into the U.S. Constitution an artificially low, arbitrary limit for spending, without saying how this would be achieved or what government programs would actually be cut. The politicians putting this forward don't want the American people to know that what they are doing is putting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and even veterans benefits, on the chopping block.

“This is nothing more than a political scheme to cut taxes for millionaires, billionaires, and corporations by forcing cuts to vital public services to pay for unwise tax cuts for the rich. They will destroy programs that fund education, child care, health care and meet the urgent needs that all Americans rely upon. They put the possibility of future revenue increases off the table in any deficit reduction discussions by requiring a supermajority vote to ever raise taxes. That's not what the Founders who wrote the Constitution wanted, and it is not what the American people need.

“These people claim they love the Constitution. Yet, they are ready to destroy it to satisfy the demands of the CEOs who pay for their campaigns. Working families across America will not be fooled by this radical proposal. They will see this irresponsible and shameless political ploy for what it IS: another attack on the middle class. If there ever was a recipe for economic disaster this would be it."