By Penny Young Nance
Many families in this great country have been forced to look at their monthly budgets and see where they can make cuts. Maybe they can spend a little less on food, eating more vegetables than meat one week or maybe they need to cancel cable or forgo their summer vacations. Maybe they even need to look at the future and cut back on contributing to their retirements or their kid's college savings account. Some folks sadly have to dig even deeper and give up essentials. All of it is painful!
What the vast majority of financially hurting families don't do every month is go on a shopping spree at the mall, take a trip to Vegas, or spend simply open up a new credit card to allow for more debt. And those families who do have debt problems from bad decisions in the past are trying to rectify it by cutting spending and paying off that debt. That's just how a household budget works.
Women, who head up a majority of the household budgets in this country, sit down every week with a calculator and their checkbooks and make really hard decisions. There are sleepless nights and stress associated with these decisions, but they put on their big girl pants and make them just the same.
This is why Americans are so angry with our national leaders. It's not really that complicated. There is lots of talk about T-bills and bond ratings. Yes, we know the global financial markets and Federal Reserve policy are complicated, but the basic principle is not. We as a nation must live within our means. Forgive me if that sounds over-simplified or antiquated.
But again, the average household understands the consequences of not paying debt and spending money you don't have - you get a bad credit rating and then you can't buy even the things you need. They know the answer is not to keep spending or even cut back slightly. Unfortunately, the President has not gotten the memo. He doggedly refuses to seriously agree to spending cuts.
CNS News reported in late 2010 that "in the first 19 months of the Obama administration, the federal debt held by the public increased by $2.5260 trillion, which is more than the cumulative total of the national debt held by the public that was amassed by all U.S. presidents from George Washington through Ronald Reagan." That's a lot of money for one president to burden the public. Now he's trying to borrow more money and force our nation to go further into debt by advocating a debt ceiling increase without serious cuts in our spending.
That's why it’s important that the House passed the Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution (BBA). It is time for the nation to force accountability on our leaders and it is why the Senate needs to pass it as well.
Forty-five states have some sort of balanced-budget provision or stipulation in place that says they cannot spend more money than they take in, in most circumstances. Our federal government needs to do the same thing or our leaders in Washington will have to strike useless deals every year so that the government can just borrow more money without ever paying off the debt we currently owe.
A balanced budget amendment is where it needs to start. This kind of Constitutional amendment must be passed by a two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress and then be ratified by three-quarters of the states. Philosophically, conservatives and liberals are at an impasse when it comes to government spending but this is no longer about ideological views. This debate is about the very survival of our nation.
A balanced budget amendment increases certainty in the markets and facilitates job growth, which is desperately needed in this country. Our latest numbers of 9.2% unemployment show only part of the story. These figures represent the folks still looking, not the people on welfare or the ones that have taken a part-time job just get to off unemployment.
For both investors and employers, they see no end to the fiscal irresponsibility and spending that has gripped the nation and hence, are uncertain of their own future which leads to no one hiring because they cannot project any kind of growth. The constant threat of tax hikes coming from the White House further unnerves those who would like to expand their businesses. Coupled with uncertainty over the cost of health care under ObamaCare, employers are stuck treading water until Washington gets its act together.
The BBA isn't perfect but it's a good start.
Diana Furchtgott-Roth, an economist and adjunct fellow at the Manhattan Institute, said in a commentary piece that government cannot control itself when spending: "What we've seen since World War II is that the government is profligate and incapable of disciplining itself when it comes to spending. It writes laws that lead to increased spending over time without further congressional action, so-called entitlements such as Medicare and food stamps...Why wait until we lose our AAA credit rating? Some form of balanced budget amendment would improve the budget process and put spending on a lower path."
The Senate needs to follow the House’s lead and pass the balanced budget amendment now and help get our nation back on its feet and the states need to immediately ratify it. This will add a layer of much needed accountability to our national leaders. Washington has a massive spending addiction and they need to go cold turkey. Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee has a remedy in fact - Spenditol (www.spenditol.com). Take a dose of that Washington-made antidote and all your worries will disappear.
The President and Congress must follow the example of many of the families in America who understand that they cannot spend and borrow in endless rotation. It's time gentlemen, to put on your big boy pants and make the tough decisions about government spending. American families are with you.
Penny Nance is the President and CEO of Concerned Women for America.